Hotel Shot; photo credit Landry's, Inc.The Houston Westin Downtown

by Michelle Mantor, Editor of HPT

I can think of a lot of reasons to have a staycation right here in the Bayou City, the least of which is the nearly unbearable rigors of today’s travel environment – if you are flying, the act of getting to the airport, finding a parking space, checking in your luggage, bearing everything but your soul to security all to find that your plane is delayed – can be a challenge for even the most patient person. Beyond the hassle, the cost of an airline ticket is also a game changer. The fees alone cost more than the actual ticket used to cost just a few years ago.

IMG_0964However, we all need a change of scenery, a break from routine to energize our spirit. If you’ve not tried going on vacation in your home city, you might be surprised how “away” it can feel. Simply being pampered and not worrying about house chores, sleeping in a luxurious bed and venturing out to see the sights can give you a whole new perspective.

And, there is one more cuddly reason to vacation just a short car ride from your front door…your pet wants to come too! The ideal trip for your dog (or cat) is reaching a quick destination full of great new smells, their own heavenly bed, and a chance to hang out with you when you are relaxed.

All of this and more is possible at the newly anointed Houston Downtown Westin (formerly the Inn At The Park) owned by Landry’s Corporation. Situated next to Minute Made Park, there is more to do than you can imagine just out the front door of the hotel. Catch an Astros game, walk over to Discovery Green where action is always on the menu and your dog will enjoy the walk and the ability to also romp in the fenced in dog park area. Or perhaps something fun is happening just around the corner at Toyota Center that will entertain you. Restaurants, as we all know, are abundant in our city and they are not just “restaurants”. We live in a true gastro paradise and many are walking distance from the Westin with the closest of all being Vic & Anthony’s right on the property.

Room; photo credit Landry's, Inc.Needing a break and curious to check out this new pet-friendly destination, I loaded up kids and my two critters and headed for the memorable Houston skyline. During the reservation process, the hotel asked for my pet’s names, size, etc. To our delighted surprise, both dogs were welcomed with their own food bowl and name tag to boot! But that’s not all, each pup had their own trademarked “heavenly bed” and toy for them to take home. The check-in process was super easy and the staff was truly delighted by having some 4-leggers check in.

Another excellent surprise is the fact that dogs under 45lbs are freebies, meaning there is no requisite deposit or cleaning fee. Welcomed, pampered, free…sounds good to me! The kids enjoyed room service and due to some rainy weather, rather than walking, the Westin provided a free shuttle for us to Bayou Place for dinner. Dogs were no welcome at Bayou Place but they were happy to strut through the lobby for a walk around the block when we returned.

IMG_0952Of course with kids, there is no way you can get away without ordering room service even though we had stuffed ourselves with sushi at Blue Fish. The brownie, ice cream and berries disappeared before the room service attendant was out of our room. And speaking of the room, ours was spacious and included a sitting area, a luxurious bathroom and the best thing of all…the bed! Oh the bed! I don’t know how they actually get people to leave.

The next morning we walked over to Discovery Green and the dogs were so happy they were like rubber balls on the end of their leash. That’s when I realized you don’t have to go far to have the energy of a vacation. Only 10 miles actually! The price is right, the hassle is non-existent, the entertainment is diverse including sports, theater, museums, shopping, dining – it’s the easiest, last-minute fun we’ve had in a long time. I live in Houston, but the Westin reminded me that with the ones you love, they can make you feel a world away when you’re just around the corner!

I want you to try it for yourself and here’s how. Send us a one paragraph about why you and your pet need a weekend stay cation at Westin and you just might get one! Enter our contest here or on our Facebook Page.