Hospitality with a capital H: That’s what the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile offers to pet lovers around the country. If you enjoy red rock canyons and quality time with animals, put Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in beautiful southern Utah at the top of your travel list. The Sanctuary — the heart of Best Friends Animal Society’s nationwide lifesaving work — is home to hundreds of dogs, cats, bunnies, birds and horses, as well as pigs and other barnyard animals. Here, you can meet your new best friend, volunteer to help homeless pets or simply bask in a pet-friendly, nature-soaked haven with your own beloved pet.
No matter how you decide to spend your time at Best Friends, they welcome you to stay at the Roadhouse, the newest lodging option and the most pet-centric hotel in the Kanab, Utah, area if not the entire country. Everything in the 40 well-appointed rooms, as well as the grounds surrounding the Roadhouse, was designed with pets (and their human traveling companions) in mind. That’s especially exciting because animal lovers now have a sleek, modern home-away-from-home where they’ll be closely connected to the Sanctuary. Also, Sanctuary animals now have more opportunities than ever to go on sleepovers in a cozy, homelike setting with visitors, volunteers and potential adopters.
Sanctuary pets try it out
The Roadhouse has so many amenities that it’s hard to name them all. Here is a sneak peek from the perspective of a few Sanctuary pet guests.
One of the first visitors was a tiny Chihuahua named Robert Johnson. Because Robert is paralyzed in his back end due to previous trauma, he uses a wheelchair. Wow, was he ever fast when he rolled into his room through a pet introduction door that also functions as an air lock! Robert sniffed around his new digs, but the only thing on his mind was snuggling with his sleepover host. He could easily have curled up in one of the small nooks at the bedside nightstands or stretched out on one of the pet beds that slide out from underneath every custom-made Roadhouse bed platform, but instead he chose to cuddle on a big bed for the night. (Today, he has every reason to sleep soundly, because he was adopted by some Roadhouse guests and now lives in California.)
Hercules, an exuberant pit bull terrier mix, wasted no time in getting the party started during his first stay at the Roadhouse. He leaped up on the king-size bed and dove into a pile of fluffy pillows. He seemed determined to test the durability of the pet-friendly fabric pillowcases ― that is until his sleepover host distracted him with a treat. When Hercules moved over to the convertible sleeper sofa in the living area, he discovered the panoramic front window and stopped bouncing around long enough to take in the fantastic view.
One of Best Friends’ adoption specialists is excited about the opportunities available to both prospective adopters and Sanctuary animals staying at the Roadhouse. “It’s an awesome environment for people to get to know their potential new family members, since adopters will be able to see the animals in a real-life, homelike setting before actually heading home,” she says. “They can get an idea of how a pet responds to normal household noises, see how a dog does off-leash in the dog park, see how they behave in public settings, and even see how they handle a quick trip to the spa.”
That’s right, there’s an off-leash dog park and a self-serve pet washing facility on-site. Guests can help their dogs tidy up after a romp in a dog park that features a super-fun splash pad that operates in warmer weather. The pet washing station is perfect for any pet ending a long day on the hiking trails covered in Utah’s beautiful red sand or smelling a little less than stellar.
Dogs aren’t the only preferred guests at the Roadhouse. Two of the rooms were designed especially with cats in mind. Ori, a cat with special needs, had the chance to try one of them on a recent sleepover. It took him a few extra minutes to feel like he could relax in his guest room, but his hesitancy was understandable, because he’s been at the Sanctuary for three years and this was his first sleepover. Ori has Manx syndrome, which makes him incontinent, and his back end is a little wobbly. In the past, he couldn’t go on sleepovers in other hotels or Airbnb rentals. But he is welcome at the Roadhouse.
At the Roadhouse it’s all about the pets, according to Amy Kohlbecker, cat care manager at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: “The Roadhouse is nice because we can have cats with special needs come here. It’s customized for animals, so there’s not as much risk of them getting stuck under furniture and such. They can also be a lot more flexible with people about the timing of sleepover checkouts and returns. With a little bit of a heads-up, we can get them a sleepover buddy for a night.”
Have four-legged friend, will travel
Julie Schulze, the Roadhouse and Mercantile manager, sums up the magic of the place: “The Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile has a tradition of warm hospitality because it’s an extension of the Sanctuary. It’s a welcoming place where everyone ― volunteers, members, donors, adopters and anyone who loves animals ― can engage with Best Friends’ mission.”
So many things make this a truly unique and special place. Some rooms have built-in wall cubbies for dogs and cats. The Mercantile, which hosts a welcoming common area with a breakfast bar, is where you can purchase pet necessities and Best Friends and Roadhouse-branded items. But don’t take our word for it. Come and experience it for yourself. And don’t forget to bring along a furry four-legged friend or two. Then again, they have plenty of sweet potential guests at the Sanctuary matching that description, and they would love to join you for a sleepover.