Let’s travel to hotels that animals and birds lovingly call ‘home’ and double as brand ambassadors for the property.
We know there are many hotels which, with all their zeal, welcome pets with enthralling package deals and the promise of many treats. But did you know there are also hotels that proudly own pets who, like other staff members, also extend a rousing reception in the lobbies? And some establishments have even gone beyond dogs and cats! These furry friends serve as unique hotel ambassadors, for which most hotels have also created souvenirs with the animals in mind — from postcards and coffee cups to books and more.
Animal Ambassadors at Hotels
Cori Copley, a Labrador
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston, USA
This hotel commenced the tradition of a canine ambassador in 2004. Cori Copley, a five-year-old black Labrador is the third and current ambassador. Her open office (a small luxurious bed with soft toys) is right in the heart of the lobby facing the front desk under the chandeliers. She clocks in every day for duty from 7 am to 3 pm with her handler, Joe Fallon, who interestingly heads the concierge desk. “Most Fairmont hotels have canine ambassadors. Super glad that this four-legged being was chosen for the ambassador job which came from Guide Dog Foundation. Being a dog lover, I opened my home to her. We come to our workplace together and often, she is more excited to go than me! After all, she loves meeting people and has successfully made many international friends who, on return to the hotel, also get many gifts for her. She is an attraction for our many four-legged guests, who come along with their human masters,” Fallon shares. “It’s gratifying to see how Cori’s presence brings joy to everyone who meets her.”
The hotel has also printed a business card for Cori mentioning Fallon’s email ID and her instagram page that has thousands of followers. Guests are allowed to take her out for walks, too. But what is it that Cori admires the most? “She loves belly rubs and giving kisses,” her instagram bio tells.
Meet Cori Copley at: 138 St James Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116, USA
Parker, a Pug
Park Hyatt Chicago, USA
Thanks to Walter Brindell, the former GM of this hotel, Parker, a five-year-old pug, checked in to the hotel in June 2016. Soon, Parker earned an important role in the premises: Bark Hyatt Director. She was adopted from a local dog shelter named PAWS Chicago, which rescued her from an abusive life in Tennessee. Today she usually dresses in a branded bandana, and can be found scurrying around in three different corners of the lobby amid her warm beds. Joining the guests in the lifts is one of her favourite activities. Many in-guest feedback forms mention the welcome by her. “PAWS eventually nursed her, helping her heal from many skin tags, poor respiration and a fully damaged eye. But the moment Walter learnt about her story, she decided to make Park Hyatt her permanent home,” unfolds Meghan Erickson from the hotel’s PR team.
Each day, there’s a checklist for staff members to be followed: arranging Parker’s meals and even taking her for walks on the lively streets of the windy city. “Whenever I go to this hotel, I never miss meeting Parker because it relaxes me. It’s a kind of therapy,” says George Taylor, a middle-aged Chicagoan.
Meet Parker at: 800 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60611, USA
Socrate, a Burmese cat
Le Bristol, Paris, France
The hotel staff warmly calls Socrate the son of Fa-raon, their first feline resident who retired after 11 years’ service as a receptionist at this historic hotel. “Yes, Fa-raon is Socrate’s father, who has passed his guest relations job to his son — a Burmese cat born on June 15 2021 in a Parisian suburb. Within days, he figured out his favourite places to hangout: from the front desk to our large garden outside where he can be seen playing with butterflies. He rarely minds joining the receptionist to lead guests to their rooms. We love it when he joins guests for long conversations in the lobby, sits with them on one of the sofas or even in their laps,” explains Jean-Marie Burlet, Guests Relation Manager at Le Bristol Paris.
The hotel also has a congratulatory letter from French president Emmanuel Macron for the animal ambassador’s birth. Socrate also continuously gets treats as gifts from guests. “He often gets on the luggage trolley for a free ride and guests go on taking his pictures,” Burlet adds.
Meet Socrate at: 112 Rue Du Faubourg, Saint Honore, Paris, 75008, France
The Peabody Memphis, USA
The mallard ducks in the hotel lobby’s large Italian marble fountain pool is a big attraction for guests. Often, these quacking creatures are the first to greet—even before the front desk staff! The ducks don’t just enjoy swimming in the pool though. They also put up two parades on the red carpet rolled out exclusively for them—one is at 11 am, the other at 5 pm. A special announcement followed by music kickstarts these celebrations every day. Out comes an elegantly dressed master who first brings the ducks from the luxurious rooftop penthouse to the pool via the lobby lift. “It may be look like a simple walk but it seems they want to match steps with the music as they walk in a straight line—much like professional models!” says Kay Ghoman, a former hotelier from Alberta.
But how did the mallard ducks reach the hotel and become animal ambassadors? Frank Shut, the hotel’s GM, brought some ducks in 1933 to surprise guests in the lobby for a day. The guests’ love nudged him to continue the idea forever. Soon, the ducks began receiving training, eventually leading to a parade. Interestingly, every three months, a fresh batch of five ducks arrives, replacing the former five who are transported to local ponds.
Meet the mallard ducks at: 149 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, 38103, USA
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
Nestled in a forest that is home to free roaming endangered Rothschild giraffes, the manor lives to its name. The Giraffe Manor has adopted the long-necked beings and even given them names like Edd, Salma, Daisy, Kelly and Buttercup, to mention some. For conversations with these animal ambassadors, the hotel’s rooms and restaurants are inundated with large windows. Guests also get the opportunity to feed them using giraffe food bowls placed in the guest rooms. However, the most common feeding hour is during breakfast, when the giraffes turn up to the windows of the large breakfast room for some animal-friendly muesli. Notably, the Giraffe Manor is managed by Safari Collection, a group that aims to educate visitors about these endangered animals.
Meet Rothschild giraffes at: Koitobos Road, Nairobi, 00509 Kenya
Hero and feature image credit: Courtesy of Le Bristol, Paris