PEMBERTON, B.C. — Kody, the Canine Concierge at Pemberton Valley Lodge in Pemberton, B.C., had a low-key seventh birthday celebration on June 22, as this year’s festivities were done online due to COVID-19. “Usually we waive our pet fees for the day, and provide treats for the canine guests and cake for the people guests,” said David Mackenzie, owner and general manager of the lodge, located a half-hour’s drive northeast of Whistler along Highway 99.
“A lot of local people follow us on Facebook and social media,” Mackenzie said. “A couple of years ago, guests even brought him birthday gifts. It shows there’s very far reach for social media.
“We are in a mountain resort area that has a community that is friendly to pets and we offer a hotel that is friendly to pets,” said Mackenzie. “We have spacious grounds where dogs can run around, including pooper scooper stations. Even people who don’t have pets like seeing our dog because they miss their own pets. It provides a home away from home.”
When guests with dogs arrive, their package includes plush dog beds and pet bowls, and a personalized note from Kody along with treats and pooper-scooper bags and a map showing off-leash areas. There are rules, though. Pets must be leashed in the common areas. The Pemberton Valley Lodge has pet-restricted floors and rooms, so that people with pet allergies can be located in rooms that have never housed a dog. The lodge allows dogs, but not other animals. There is a $65 fee, a weight limit of 34 kg or 75 pounds, and pets aren’t allowed on the furniture.
Kody, adopted from the SPCA six years ago, is Mackenzie’s personal pet as well as Canine Concierge. He can move freely around the lobby area, and his training involved learning to approach people slowly, since not everyone loves dogs. He also had to learn how to handle the poking and prodding from children. “He’s my personal dog, but I do travel a lot. When I’m travelling, my husband drops him off so that he can get his day of work at the office. He’s my No. 1 employee — he’s never missed a day of work. The wages are reasonable too — a bag of premium dog food every other week.”
Pemberton Valley Lodge was deemed an essential service during the pandemic and never closed. “We get a lot of corporate business from companies like CN Rail and B.C. Hydro,” Mackenzie said. In late June, B.C. entered Phase 3, which allowed B.C. residents to travel. Business hasn’t returned to normal; usually the lodge would be full at this time of year. Right now, occupancy is in the low- to mid-50s.
“At least right now, we’re not losing money,” Mackenzie said. “The wage subsidy has made the difference — without it, maybe I would have had to close the doors.” He praised HAC’s Susie Grynol for her hard work in getting the wage subsidy extended until the end of August, and hopes it can be extended until the end of the year. “If that happens, we will have escaped 2020 without going bankrupt.”
Stage 3 doesn’t mean they are relaxing any of the new social distancing and cleanliness measures. “Daily housekeeping is not permitted; we’re still cleaning the hotel four times a day — every single doorknob!”