Meet Cooper, the Golden Retriever Leading Hikes With Hotel Guests at This Vermont Resort

Dogs make everything better — especially while on vacation.

Now that spring is here and summer is right around the corner, it's the perfect time to explore the great outdoors on your next trip. And you can have a furry companion with you while you do it, even if you're not actually a pet owner.

At the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester Village, Vermont, outdoorsy guests can enjoy a hike with the resort's chief happiness officer (CHO), Cooper, a five-year-old golden retriever. Cooper took on the job back in fall 2020 "because, well, he just makes people happy," according to the resort.

Cooper belongs to The Equinox's general manager, Jay Sheldon, who "Golden Hikes," for guests at the resort during the warmer season. While a reservation is recommended for Golden Hikes (particularly in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic), this service is also fully complimentary for guests. So you can enjoy a nice day outside and get to pet a dog while you're at it –– all for free.

"As we begin to see the other side of this very challenging period, there is no question that people everywhere are looking for ways to be lifted up," said Sheldon, in a statement. "Getting safely outside of our homes, exploring new destinations, and experiencing all they have to offer certainly helps, but here at The Equinox, we want to add a little extra joy. That's why we've enlisted Cooper as the resort's official chief happiness officer. I can personally speak to the happiness he's brought me over the past five years we've been together, but I can also attest to the smiles he brings to our guests' faces as he greets them 'hello'. Immersing ourselves in the nature that surrounds our resort is one of mine and Cooper's favorite things to do in Manchester. We wanted to share that with our guests, which is why we offer our Golden Hikes."

Naturally, the resort also encourages guests to bring their own furry companions, too, since Cooper is very good at making friends. The resort is pet friendly regardless of whether guests want to attend the weekly hike. Golden Hikes, which take place on Saturday mornings, explore the 914 acres that surround The Equinox. Hikes last approximately two hours, and Cooper is so well-versed on the trail that he can complete it unleashed and even lead the way.

Cooper also takes his job pretty seriously, often making himself available for guests throughout the resort. He can be seen roaming the grounds with Sheldon and hosts meet-and-greet check-ins on Fridays between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to formally welcome guests to the resort while they enjoy a complimentary glass of wine. Guests with children can also take home plushie versions of Cooper after their stay.

Besides the chance to hang out with an adorable dog all day, guests who stay at The Equinox can enjoy its fascinating history. In its 250 years, the Equinox has hosted four U.S. presidents, was a meeting site for Revolutionary War soldiers, and has enjoyed status as a historic landmark since the 1970s. Not to mention, it's a gorgeous hotel with an 18-hole golf course, three tennis courts, a 13,000-square-foot spa, a heated indoor swimming pool, and five on-site restaurants and bars.

The Equinox is open year-round, but Golden Hikes kicks off for the warm season on Saturday, April 17. For more information or to make a booking, visit the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa website. While you're planning your trip, get to know Cooper virtually through his dedicated Instagram.

Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.

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