130-Room Resort Opens For Cats and Dogs

www.Taken from The Saturday Republican-American June 6, 2015

Pets Enjoy the Suite Life, By Brittany Shammas Sun Sentinel

Soft music plays in the lobby as guests check in at the front desk. Chandeliers dangle from the ceilings of suites, where visitors lounge on memory-foam beds and watch cable on flat-screen TV’s.  Blueberry facials, Brazilian waxes and aromatherapy baths are among the treatments available in the gleaming spa.

This new, 130-room Palm Beach County resort was designed to feel like the Breakers or the Four Seasons, with one key difference: It’s for cats and dogs.  Called the Post Pet Hotel, it provides pampered pets amenities and services similar to those enjoyed by their two -legged best friends, bringing a new meaning to being “in the dog house.”

“People are like, “Wow, I would stay here,” said owner Lincoln Baker. “People literally want to stay here.”

The hotel, opened in April in West Palm Beach, joins a handful of others in South Florida that offer super-luxe accommodations for cats and dogs.  Forget chain-link fences or long stays inside a kennel-dogs that shack up in these digs get treated to over-sized suites and hours of entertainment, whether they’re there for doggie day care or overnight stays.

Dog pools with water fountains are among the offerings at the Lauderdale Pet Lodge; in Fort Lauderdale. A fitness center with personal trainers who “offer expertise and assist guests with achieving their goals” is on of the features at Pompano Beach’s Chateau Poochie. And rooms with private patios are available at Lake Worth-based Barkers Hotel & Parrington Inn.

Across the country, people are spending more and more on their pets.  Last year, more than $58 billion went toward food, veterinary care, boarding and other expenses in the U.S., according to research by American Pet Products Association. This year, it’s expected to surpass $60 billion.

That people are so willing to splurge is a reflection of changing attitudes toward pets, said Carmen Rustenbeck, CEO of the International Boarding and Pet Services Association.

Dogs have gone “from the backyard into the doghouse, from the doghouse into the house and into the family,” she said.

They now have birthday parties, costume parties and even weddings.

“We’ve really sort of incorporated these pets into our lives, and the more human characteristics we give them, the more we want them to be treated the way we want to be treated ourselves,” said Rustenbeck, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. “When we look for a room for ourselves, we look for the best we can afford.  So now we do the same with our pets.”

Sofia Petris, who takes her 2-year old Maltese, Maximus, to the Posh Pet Hotel for doggie day care a few times a week, explained the phenomenon like this: With her two kids grown, the little white pooch is now her “baby.” He rules her West Palm Beach house, and when she isn’t at home, she wants someone to look after him.

“Pets are the new kids,” Petris said with a laugh. “What can I say”

In designing the 13,000 square-foot Posh Pet Hotel, Baker tried to think of everything a pet parent might want.  Need a driver to pick up Fido or Fluffy? No problem-the hotel will send a Maserati, Bentley or Cadillac Escalade.

Looking to treat him to something besides kibbles and bits? You’ll find filet mignon, chicken and salmon on the menu.

Still, despite the glamorous add-ons, Baker said the rates are set at a range meant to be friendly to all budgets.

Day care, which includes constant supervision by the Posh staff, costs $35.00 a day.  Room rates range from $49 nightly for the classic suite, an  orthopedic bed in a cub-by-like space, to the $120-per night presidential suite, the “wow room” that features a queen-sized bed, chandelier and complimentary belly rubs and bedtime stories.

“It’s like how you can get a cheeseburger or a filet mignon,” Baker said.

All rooms come with daily sheet changes, and all dogs spend their days outside their rooms.  They romp around with other guests and hotel staff in the outdoor play areas, with frequent trips to the absorbent, AstroTurf-lined outdoor area.

DOGTV, a Direct TV channel plays on the 65 flat-screens throughout the place, showing movies including Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” and “101 Dalmations.”

For cats, there’s Catlantis, a room full of multi-level “cat condos” overlooking a fish tank. It has an attached play area, Cat Cay, with towers for cats to climb on.  Rates are A$36 for a classic suite and $40 for a luxury one.

The facility is staffed around-the-clock, often by Baker himself, a dog lover who moved from California to Palm Beach County to open Posh Pet Hotel with his wife.  At night, he reads to the dogs and takes them out for bathroom breaks.

“People really love their animals-they’re like family,” Baker said.  “We treat them like family.”

But do all the extra perks, from spa treatments to over-sized rooms, actually matter to the pets?

“You know, that’s an excellent question,” said KC Theisen, director or pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States. “And it’s certainly something that pet families should think about before they make an investment. The best path is to put your pets’ well-being at the front of your mind.”

Laura Laaman, president of Outstanding Pet Care, an organization that consults with pet care providers, said her clients have found major benefits in two areas: “The more interaction and activitiy that a pet receives, the happier and the healthier they are,” she said.

That’s true for Benson, an 11-month old Bouvier des Flandres, according to his owner, Amy Sinnott.  He spend a few days at the Posh Pet Hotel while she was in Washington D.C., and she found that the extra attention made a difference.

Traveling with your dog will cost you – possibly hundreds. By Sue Manning -Associated Press

Having a 80-pound Labradoodle as a travel buddy means B.L. Ochman can quickly separate the hotels that love dogs from those that just put up with them.

A bed-and-breakfast she visited north of New York City wouldn’t let her pooch Benny trot around in the main house, among other troubles.  Ochman, a Manhattan Internet strategist, has since discovered Audrey’s Farmhouse, a B&B in Wallkill, New York, that caters to dogs and doesn’t charge pet fees that can top hundreds of dollars.

“Dog-friendly means your dog is welcome,” she said.  “If the dog is welcome, he shouldn’t cost extra money. Of course, I am a dog owner, not an innkeeper.”

Hotels ranging from major chains to small outposts are capitalizing on the wave of travelers who bring along their dogs, some by charging for perks that pamper pets and others by expanding fees. What started as a basic, one-time pet fee has blossomed into a per-night charge at many places and costs that can total hundreds.

Some properties offer amenities from patches of grass to chew toys, designer bowls and in-room massages-usually for an additional price-while others simply levy cleaning fees, whether your dog makes a mess or not.  Those hotels often don’t offer extras or permission for pooches over a certain weight, locking out larger pets like Ochman’s.

“There is a huge difference between pet-tolerance and pet-welcoming,” said Carol Bryant, a pet industry public relations strategist from Forty Fort, Pennsylvania.  She’s been traveling with dogs for decades and says hotels that simply tolerate animals don’t offer services such as bowls and beds, so dogs might be sleeping on thin carpeting.

Perks such as organic treats usually cost more, but “I never forget when businesses extend themselves to my dog,” Bryant said.  “Does my dog know? Probably not, but I do. And I do the spending.”

Hotels charge a range of prices for pets.  More than 120 DoubleTree by Hilton hotels in the U..S. charge a maximum $75 non refundable fee used for cleaning, said Maggie Giddens, director of public relations for the hotels.

Many chains charge differently by city.  In San Francisco, flat fees are common, with the Radisson charging $75; the Marriott, $50 to $100; Holiday Inn, $75; and the Hyatt, $100, according to www.petswelcome.com , a pet travel services website.  But the InterContinental requires $50 a night there.

Many properties have no fees, including Motel 6, Studio 6, Red Roof Inn, LaQuinta and Kimpton, which has 67 hotels nationwide, said Cindy Dahlen, marketing director for New York-based www.petswelcome.com.

Others charge per night, including Rodeway Inn and Westin hotels at $10-$15; Best WEstern and Travelodge at $20; and Extended Stay America at $25.

Bryant said the highest fee she’s faced was a one-time $250 cleaning charge at the Trump SoHo New York. Dogs staying at the luxery hotel also have to be under 25 pounds.





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