26 July 2016

BUSINESS - Ultra Luxury Pet Hotels Thriving

Whether pampered pooches or downright divas – there are services catering to dog owners with an appetite for luxury.

There's fancy bedding, decadent dining, doting staff, over-the-top spa treatments and, yes, bacon-scented bubble games at some of the most posh pet lodgings, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

(Wag Hotels)
For $150 a night, dogs checking in to Wag Hotels get the royal treatment and a stay at a deluxe suite featuring a queen-size bed, a faux fireplace, a flat-screen telly and dog-friendly artwork.

Missing the owners?

Dogs can Skype with their homo sapien companions before enjoying a bedtime story such 'The Poky Little Puppy.'

Think this is too lavish to be a viable business concept?

Think again.

Wag Hotels, which first opened in 2004 now has locations in Sacramento, San Francisco and Redwood City, and recently opened its fourth location in Oakland, California.

"You are getting people who are treating their dog more like a child, not the family pet. They want to create a homelike environment," Jennifer Duryea, general manager of Wag Oakland told the Mercury News.

Just like rock stars, some of the dogs' owners demand super special treatment for their canine companions – and they aren't disappointed.

One Wag client wanted her dog to watch 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' during its stay while the owner of a Boston Terrier, who drinks bottled Fiji water, required the designer dog to have its feet wiped and cream applied to its nose before being put to bed dressed in its comfortable PJs.

But that's just some of the decadence doled out at Wag where guests can devour dog-friendly ice cream sundaes, frozen yogurt bars “full of antioxidants” or have blueberry facials in the grooming salon.

Former zookeeper, Carlie Thibault, was brought on board to help create activities for the guests which include playing with bacon bubbles for dogs and swinging plank obstacles for felines.

Yes, cats are welcome, too.

"My role is taking my experience about what we know about animals and what makes them tick in the wild and bringing that into our facility in an interesting and fun way," Thibault told the Mercury News.

Rooms range from $50 to $150 a night.

But owners don't just ditch their dogs or cats, with many opting to check up on their beloved pets via webcams after check-in.

Stacey Wells brings Tugger her Labradoodle to daycare once a week to get the dog better socialized.

"I'm like one of those really bad soccer parents," Wells told the Mercury News.
"My kid never plays, and I'm like, 'Come on, play,' screaming from home watching her."

Lucky dog, Lily, has been a regular at Wag since she was a puppy.

Now that she is moving up in age her owners are even more inclined to shell out $580 a month for her to go to doggie daycare there.

"She's now deaf, so if there were something to happen at the house, there's no way for her to hear about it," owner, Danielle Murphy told the Mercury News.

"We don't have kids and both of us are working, so it's really for our peace of mind and comfort with a 16-year-old dog to know that people are taking care of her every day."

Wag is certainly not the only company catering to those who want to lavish their dogs with loads of luxuries.

D Pet Hotels is thriving and expanding in the U.S..

North of the Border, the B.C.-based Jet Pet Resort is also very stylish with courtyards, lounges and its on-site Spaw where dogs can have baths, nail trimming or a full grooming package.

Day lounges feature plasma TVs and there are a la carte extras which include meals tailored to dogs' dietary needs.

“We can anticipate when nap times are needed, fetch is a necessity and when some pets just need that little bit of extra TLC to settle in,” Jet Pet Resort's website states.

“We are used to hand feeding, grooming, cuddles, games and simply going the extra mile to make them feel at home.”

Feline owners need not fret – there is a separate cat lounge with plenty of scratching posts, toys and a telly as well as private cat suites.

By Nadia Moharib
Nadia is an animal lover who has adopted everything from birds to hamsters, salamanders, rabbits, fish and felines. She has written about all-things-pets for years and was a long-time editor of a pet magazine in a daily newspaper which featured a Q & A column, Ask Whit, penned by her pooch (ghost written, of course.) The serial dog owner lives in Calgary, Alberta and most days can be found at a dog park picking up after her rescue pooch, Scoots.

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