Legendary performer and dog lover Doris Day had one non-negotiable condition when she purchased the Cypress Inn more than 30 years ago with business partner Denny LeVett: Four-legged canine guests would be as welcome as their two-legged companions.
Since then the hotel has been named “pet friendliest” in the nation by many publications and launched Carmel’s international reputation as a dog-loving destination.
“We literally treat them like regular guests,” says General Manager Peter Radler. “We just like the true, honest companionship of your pet.”
Walk into the hotel on any given day and it’s not unusual to see dogs on the patio enjoying treats from the restaurant’s menu or hanging out with people at the bar, Terry’s Lounge – named for Day’s late son, Terry Melcher, a musician and record producer – where they hold popular “Yappy Hours,” from 4-6pm, Sunday through Thursday. It’s also not uncommon to see guests forge new friendships over their dogs, Radler says: “It’s beautiful to see.”
Doggy guest amenities include an outdoor dog-sized shower for rinsing off after a romp at the beach, treats and customized blankets and bowls for in-room use.
The beautiful Spanish Colonial-style inn with its gracious living room is a gathering place for locals and guests alike. Live music from weekly regulars like Debbie Davis, Dino Vera, Lee Durley and others cements the hotel as a village institution.
“People come here and make an evening of it. It makes us a center,” Radler says. “It’s an extreme locals hangout, which is the beauty of it. ”
As for out-of-town visitors, the hotel has become an annual tradition for many.
“We have people who’ve been coming back for 30 years, some even asking for the same room,” Radler says.
The 89-year-old structure has been served well by the stewardship of Day and LeVett, although 96-year-old Day is not involved in day-to-day decisions, focusing instead on her animal foundations and life at her home in Carmel Valley. Since taking over, the team has renovated and refreshed the exterior and interior multiple times, while maintaining its unique charm. About 15 years ago they added a wing, expanding from 32 to 44 rooms. The hotel will undergo a renovation next year, updating air conditioning, heating and plumbing, as well as upgrading from the original single-paned windows to double-paned.
“It has tweaks but it’s such a special place, it really is,” Radler says.