Taking the Loews Road

On Wednesday, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort announced that the property’s managed colony of cats will be “relocated to the county animal services center.”

This, of course, was not entirely unanticipated. Loews first announced that it would be reversing its position on TNR and on-site managed colonies back in January. Nor was it a surprise—given how the self-proclaimed “pet-friendly” luxury chain has tried to downplay the issue from the outset—that the big announcement was buried in a Facebook comment to a post more than two months old now:

We have reviewed our practice involving feral, free-roaming cats and have talked with numerous agencies including Orange County Animal Services. The Florida Department of Health states that feral, free-roaming cats pose a continuous concern to communities due to the persistent threat of injury and disease.

The priority at our hotels is the health and safety of our guests and team members. As a result, the cats will be relocated to the county animal services center.

We appreciate all the feedback we have received on this important matter and are grateful for your understanding as we implement this policy.

Turns out, an awful lot of us don’t understand at all—beginning with their alleged public health concerns. Jennifer Hodges, Director of Public Relations for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, played the same card in January—but, to my knowledge, no details were ever offered. (I received a brief, generic e-mail reply when I inquired about the issue.)

The real problem for Loews, however, is that in their efforts to keep the whole thing low-profile, they apparently failed to inform their own marketing department. Which, in turn, failed to get the website updated accordingly. As a result, visitors to the site might easily come away with the impression that Loews actually is “the vacation choice of every pet lover.” Or that, as is indicated in the out-of-date copy, “Loews loves pets.”

Perhaps it’s true that “your VIP (Very Important Pet) will be waited on hand and paw, traveling in first-class comfort.” But for the cats outside—sterilized, vaccinated, and well cared for—their next trip won’t be comfortable at all.

And, more than likely, it’s one-way.

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