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Canine Concierge

heidiho
February 2nd, 2005, 01:59 PM
It isn’t just the $34-million renovation of its 383 guest rooms and suites that has tongues wagging at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel (800-441-1414). It’s a 70-pound black Labrador retriever named Catie Copley, who’s won the hearts of guests and employees alike. In fact, since joining the staff in April 2004, Catie has become as famous as the elegant, AAA four-diamond historic hotel, which opened in 1912.

Recently retired from guide-dog training in Smithtown, New York—where vision issues prevented her from graduating, prompting a new career path—the petite 3-year-old is the hotel’s new Canine Ambassador. She caters to those who long for man’s best friend while away from home. In addition to greeting guests in the lobby and assisting with room deliveries, Catie is available for guided strolls around the city. She maintains an appointment book at the concierge desk that’s typically filled (even more so on sunny days and weekends) with walks that range from 20 minutes to several hours—along with a ledger of her favorite routes, verbal commands, and biscuits.



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“Marrying the comforts of an upscale hotel with the warmth of a family pet has been an unbelievable success,” says Jim Carey, director of concierge and Catie’s after-hours caretaker. “In all my 27 years at the Fairmont, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the largest luxury-hotel management company in North America that’s also pet friendly, created the Canine Ambassador program. It debuted in 2001 at the company’s Vancouver property to rave reviews. “The Hotel Vancouver’s canine program was so popular that we decided to partner with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, which donated Catie to us,” says Carey. The Fairmont Washington, D.C., has since adopted a dog, too.

Catie’s appeal extends to the business and leisure traveler alike. She was recently drafted by a Fortune 500 company to attend their corporate-training boot camp at the hotel. “The company’s meeting planner wanted Catie as an icebreaker for the very large, daylong meeting,” says Suzanne Wenz, Fairmont’s regional director of public relations. “She instantly changed the mood of the entire room, wagging her tail and wandering from table to table for pats on the head.”

And why should she limit her influence to merely a room when she has the whole city? “The Boston Duck Tours narrator now announces that our historic hotel is also home to Catie Copley as he drives sightseers by our front door,” marvels Wenz. “It’s amusing to hear her name mentioned alongside such revered Copley Square landmarks as Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library—the oldest lending library in the country. I guess it means that she’s arrived.”

Indeed, Carey says that a London reporter recently wrote about Boston’s Freedom Trail—from Catie’s perspective—after the two of them walked the historic route together. “Next thing you know she’ll be featured in a movie or asked to write a book.”



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twodogsandacat
February 2nd, 2005, 10:23 PM
I have heard of this at another hotel and I believe that dog was a black lab also. What a great idea to make guests feel at home.

When I travel on business I usally end the day with a stroll. It would be great to be able to walk a dog when I missing mine. Sometimes I miss my girlfriend too though. I don't think she'd be as understanding as the dogs would be (if you are reading this - I'm kidding honey). :angel:
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heidiho
February 3rd, 2005, 01:17 PM
I love it,that is such a great idea...