Contributed by Jenna Donleavy, traveler and pet parent of three rescue dogs: Knox, Bear & Harper
Back in May, my family and I took Bear, a Labrador/Border Collie mix, to the beautiful Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine—one of the best dog-friendly vacation destinations in New England. When we’re only traveling with one dog, we’re pretty comfortable staying in pet-friendly hotels. Having three pups on your hands, however, isn’t as easy, and usually requires a lot more space.
When staying at The Inn by The Sea, it is a totally different story. The hotel staff go above and beyond to provide pet-friendly accommodations and make sure dogs of all sizes feel welcome.
Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the hotel’s foster dog, Swink, a 6-year-old Hound mix, in the lobby. It turns out that the Inn has a partnership with the Animal Refuge of Greater Portland, which has allowed them to foster rescue dogs on site. In the past 2 years, the Inn has managed to place 88 dogs in permanent homes! After meeting Swink and looking around at all the dogs enjoying the property, I knew we were in for a treat.
Our two-level spa suite came with a wet bar kitchenette, balcony and a lofted bedroom—and it was nothing short of impressive. Our room overlooked Crescent Beach and the gorgeous gardens of the Inn. The staff left Bear his own bed mat, an adorable paw-print towel, doggie bowls, a dog menu (yup, you read that right!) and peanut butter dog treats.
They also left behind a ton of info on the different programs they run. We’re talking everything from gourmet pet menus to dog walkers and doggie daycare to pet massages. We also received a huge, comprehensive list of nearby walking trails, pet-friendly beaches and free-range parks. Talk about doggie heaven!
After we settled in, we spent most of the day exercising. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach from April 1st to September 30th, so we walked the parallel paths of Crescent Beach down by the boardwalk.
And if you’re looking to do a little exploring, the Inn is also an easy 10-minute drive to Portland, a popular pet-friendly vacation destination where there are plenty of dining and shopping options, along with additional dog-friendly trails and parks.
After Bear worked up an appetite, we ordered him a meal from the doggie room service menu (because, of course!). His “Bird Dog” entree, which was a mix of grilled chicken on top of rice, peas and carrots topped with an enormous organic peanut butter cookie, arrived promptly at our door. For dessert, he licked up their probiotic frozen yogurt in under a minute. Four paws up from this guy!
After dinner and a walk for Bear, we brought him down to the lounge area off of the lobby where he was able to sit with us while we had cocktails. While he relaxed by our feet, the kind bartender gave him lots of belly rubs, followed by a water bowl and more homemade cookies.
Though Bear wasn’t allowed in the dining room because of public food-related laws, we were able to enjoy a fabulous three-course meal prepared by Chef Chadwick in the beautiful Sea Glass Restaurant with spectacular ocean views. It was an A+ night!
This luxury Maine property truly set the bar high for the other pet-friendly hotels we hope to visit in the future. The staff made us feel so relaxed and at home, while also spoiling our four-legged friends. As for Bear, his expectations of pet-friendly accommodations are high as well. The doggie room service and constant attention from all of the staff members made our trip truly unforgettable. The Inn by the Sea clearly tops our list of the best dog-friendly vacations, and we’ll definitely be going back sometime in the future.