Natalie B Compton
THE WASHINGTON POST – The holiday season is fraught with cliches (albeit cliches we love). Everywhere you turn, you see the same lights and hear the same songs.
And then there’s Portland, Oregon, a city so unique that it got its own show (Portlandia) to lampoon its many quirks. You can now add this to the list: festively dressed therapy llamas in a hotel lobby.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland has partnered with the nonprofit Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas to host a few holiday-themed llama visits where guests can interact with the shaggy creatures in the spirit of stress relief. The Friday lobby visits are scheduled for December 20.
It’s not the first time the hotel has sponsored animal shenanigans.
“Prior years, we’ve had the llamas out, and walked through the downtown areas and spread holiday cheer unexpectedly,” said Travis Williams, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland’s general manager. “Last year we had them in the lobby before we walked them around the neighbourhood, and immediately the word is out once you see a llama. People were so excited by the chance to touch and feed and get some photos with a llama.”
The idea for the partnership came from a hotel employee who was friends with someone at Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas. After seeing the reactions from guests, Portland locals and tourists, the hotel decided to bring them back.
“Once we saw the joy that it brought people, we just kept going,” Williams said.
When the Mountain Peaks therapy llamas and alpacas aren’t making holiday-themed visits to the Kimpton, they’re herded around Washington and Oregon to hospitals, rehab facilities, senior communities, hospice care, schools and special-needs organisations. According to the Mountain Peaks website, “research has shown that animals help humans by acting as social bridges, reducing blood pressure, directing thoughts outward, and serving as strong motivators for accomplishing difficult tasks.”
For those concerned about the well-being of llamas and alpacas in a hotel lobby, Williams said the animals are well fed and taken care of and that they will be attended to by handlers during the visit.
To promote the animal visits, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland is running a Fa-La-La-La-Llama package.
The package includes a donation to Mountain Peaks, a stuffed toy llama as well as a plate of holiday milk and cookies. For the ultimate experience, book the package to overlap with the llama visit days.
It could be the most unusual thing you do this holiday season.
“Everyone’s got an option to go see Santa, or an option to go see a Christmas tree, but an option to go see a llama is pretty cool,” Williams said.