by Matt Alderton | November 01, 2016
People adore their pets -- so much so that Americans spend over $60 billion per year on food, supplies, veterinary care, and other services for their furry family members, according to the American Pet Products Association. In exchange for their investment, they get not only unconditional love and unlimited face-licks, but also increased happiness. In 2014, the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative surveyed 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners, finding that most of the respondents observed health benefits in patients who interact with animals, including improvements in their physical condition (88 percent), mental health (97 percent), and mood or outlook (98 percent).

Given that, it's not surprising that many pet owners want to not only come home to their animals, but also leave home with them. Meeting planners who are looking for new, fun ways to personalize their events and delight their audience can leverage that desire by encouraging attendees to bring Fido or Fluffy with them to their meeting. Here are five pet-friendly venues that make it easy for them to do so.

Hotel Nikko San Francisco (San Francisco)

In early 2016, financial consulting company SmartAsset set out to find the country's most dog-friendly cities, based on criteria such as the number of dog parks, dog-friendly shopping areas, and dog-friendly restaurants, not to mention cities' walkability, weather, and housing costs. The result: The most dog-friendly U.S. city is San Francisco. And the most dog-friendly hotel in the most dog-friendly city? High on the list is Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Along with 532 guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting space, it offers a renovated rooftop deck with a grassy dog run; dog beds, bowls, and treats; a fun welcome bag with toys, portable food bowl, dog waste bag dispenser, and tennis balls; and its very own onsite pooch, Buster, who holds the title of "Canine Operating Officer."

Thompson Chicago (Chicago)

This month, readers of Condé Nast Traveler named the 247-room Thompson Chicago as the second best hotel in the United States as part of the magazine's 29th annual Readers' Choice Awards. "This boutique hotel in the Windy City is known for its stellar service, jewel-toned rooms, and prime location in the Gold Coast neighborhood," Condé Nast Traveler reports. The hotel is beloved by its human guests for its chic Italian eatery, Nico Osteria; its stylish bar, Salone Nico; and its 12,000 square feet of elegant meeting space. As for its four-legged guests, they love it for its pet-friendly policies: all pets are welcome and the hotel has neither a size limit nor a fee. Its pet package includes a ceramic take-home dog bowl and dog toys, gourmet dog treats, an in-room dog bed, 15 percent off at Chicago's Tails in the City pet boutique, and a special "Pets in the City" guide to Chicago.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando (Orlando)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort gives guests a taste of the South Pacific -- in the middle of Central Florida. Located at Universal Orlando, it's got everything you'd expect to find at an island resort, minus the island, including sand, sun, and palm trees. Along with 1,000 guest rooms, a lagoon-style pool, and 132,000 square feet of function space, it offers exclusive theme-park benefits like Universal Express Unlimited ride access, which allows guests to skip the lines at Universal Orlando and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guests aren't the only ones who'll have fun at this resort, however; their pets will enjoy themselves, too, thanks to Loews Hotels & Resorts' "Loews Loves Pets" program. For a $50-per-night cleaning fee -- up to a maximum of $150 - pet parents get gourmet room service menus for their cat or dog; creature comforts like specialized bedding, leashes, collars, and litter boxes; helpful amenities like dog-walking route maps, pet placemats, water bowls, treats, and doggie pick-up bags; special treats like rawhide bones, catnip, and scratch poles; and pet-walking and pet-sitting services. The resort even has designated green areas where you can walk your furry family members.

Vdara Hotel & Spa (Las Vegas)

Located in CityCenter, a block from the Las Vegas Strip, Vdara Hotel & Spa is a non-gaming hotel that's known for its amenities, including its 18,000-square-foot, two-story spa, salon, and fitness center; its 40,000-square-foot pool and deck area; and its 16,000 square feet of meeting space. The amenity pet owners will be most excited about, however, is the 1,495-room hotel's "Vdog Suites," designated especially for pooches and their parents. Each Vdog suite reservation includes a dog amenity upon arrival, an in-suite dog-dining menu, and -- upon request -- crates and eco-friendly dog bowls. Better yet: The hotel has an onsite dog park and walking path that's accessible by guests and pets 24/7.

Hutton Hotel (Nashville)

For humans, Nashville's Hutton Hotel has 247 guest rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space. For pets, it has a Hutton Happy Tails Pet Program that equips pet parents' rooms with a long list of animal amenities, including: water and food bowls, a welcome treat from Bubba Rose Biscuit Co., a special welcome toy, a pet bandana, a custom placemat, a custom leash, a list of pampered pet resources (e.g., groomers, walking areas, and veterinarians), and a "Furry Friend Room Service Menu" of healthy, organic snacks available through in-room dining. Pet bedding also is available upon request. The hotel charges pet owners a one-time cleaning fee of $75.