Home Chennai Our list of the best places to vacation with your pet

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    Sign up for a weekend with your pet atA�destinations that pull out all the stops to keep them happy

    hen the person on the phone says, a�?Your dogs can sleep on the bed with you,a�? you know thata��s as close to home as youa��ll ever get on vacation. And thata��s what our first impression was of the Sharoan homestay in Kodaikanal, long before we made the 500 kilometre drive from Chennai. A beautiful gray-stone home, the place looks like ita��s straight out of an Enid Blyton novel.A�Owned by Manmohan (Mac) Sahani, thisA�a�?pet and youa�� getaway is almost enough to make you forget that you just drove 10 hours with two dogs in the same car.

    Mac and  Sasha

    Mac and Sasha

    Everyonea��sinvited
    Increasingly, pet owners are finding that taking their dogs along onA�a holiday is a viable optiona��sentimentally and financiallya��over leaving them in expensive kennels. And ita��s all thanks to a few indulgent pet lovers with property, who have decided to create holiday homes that are open to the whole a�?extendeda�� (theA�waggingA�tailed kind) family. a�?Ia��ve been driving up hereA�(to Kodaikanal)A�with my pug Sasha for years now,a�? Mac recalls, but adds, a�?every time this would come up in conversation with friends, I realised very few people had the same option.a�?

    However, several holiday options that are pet friendly choose not to go overboard with publicity. WhileA�MacA�has confined his a�?ada�� to a single poster outside his veta��s Chennai clinic, Nicholasa�� La��Escale guesthouse in Pondicherry leaves it to good old word-of-mouth publicity. The Englishman who has settled there with his French wife tells us, a�?Wea��ve had three owners come with their pets in three years.a�? Do they allow any kind of pet? a�?Yeah, as long as ita��s not a tiger!a�?A�La��Escale responds with a laugh.

    Also in the same vicinity is the boutique resort, the Dune. Formerly an artista��sA�residence, the 40-acre property has been converted into 55 gorgeous cottagesa��each aesthetically unique and all open to canine guests. a�?We even cater to custom doggie meals on request,a�? Dunea��s director Sunil Varghese tells us. And the dogs are free to roam the property on or off the leash. Perhaps the only no-paws zone is the restaurant. a�?We keep this off-limits to pets for hygienic reasons,a�? Sunil explains, sounding a little apologetic. But hey, as long as you get to wake up every morning toA�a wet-nosed greetingA�even when youa��re on vacation, what more can you ask for?

    The Farm
    The Bed and Breakfast on OMR is less than an hour away from the city and has a relaxed set up of 12 rooms (all pet friendly), a lake that is great for a doggie swim and plenty of farm animals to socialise with. Says Shalini Phillip, who co-runs the space, a�?Since we dona��t
    specify what pets are allowed, wea��ve had dogs, cats and even turtles!a�? Cost per room: Rs. 3,000 plus taxes

    Vivanta by Taj Connemara
    Would you believe Connemara has been open to furry five-star guests since the 80s? And now that the hotel has been rebranded, pet-friendly rooms are a part of the policy. Once you check in, your pet can enjoy a host of luxuries. a�?That means a doggie bowl, a separate mattress and custom food, like lamb broth,a�? says Ashirbad Praharaj, the accommodations manager. He adds that guests with pets usually get an upgrade to a deluxe room with direct garden access. Cost for pet for the duration of your stay: Rs. 3,000

    Outstation getaways
    Sharoan Cottage (Kodaikanal): Rs. 4,000-5,000 depending on which room you pick La��Escale (Pondicherry): Rs. 450 for the pets and Rs. 2,200-Rs. 2,700 for the rooms
    Dune (Pondicherry): Rs. 5,500-Rs. 19,000 depending on proximity to the sea

    A�a��Sonali Shenoy

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