Soft bedding, room service and aromatherapy are just what you might need after a long day of work or travel. Perhaps some classical music to lull your senses and in the morning a gentle wake up call gives the day a proper start.
These amenities add up to a luxurious experience, but in this case the pampering is not for you. It’s for your pet.
Peggy Bernar is hoping to cash in on the multibillion dollar pet industry and on Jan. 12 opened The Spot, a doggie hotel, at one of the busiest intersections on Madison Street. To help promote her new business, Bernar hosted an open house over the weekend, welcoming pet owners and their pets.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted-to work for myself,” Bernar said while giving a tour of the renovated space at Circle and Madison. “I absolutely love dogs, not to the point where it’s creepy, but my dogs are my priority, along with my husband.”
Bernar is a Berwyn resident and comes to Forest Park by way of the Yuppie Puppy, a grooming outfit on Harlem in Oak Park. While working there, she said, her boss was regularly reminding Bernar to stop playing with the dogs long enough to groom them.
The accommodations at The Spot include several distinct rooms so that pets can mingle with dogs that are of a similar size. The storefront includes a finished basement where most of the dogs will play, but a first-floor room for older pets will save those aging dogs the trouble of navigating the stairs. The Spot will offer both doggie daycare-promoted as the lounge-and overnight boarding.
Karen Long McLeod is the editor in chief of Pet Age magazine, an industry publication headquartered in Chicago. The term “pet hotel” gained traction within the last decade as the trend of styling traditional kennels into homier, more luxurious settings caught on, she said. Pet owners have come to view their furry friends as members of the family, and are backing that sentiment with their spending.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, pet owners in 2007 spent more than $41.2 billion. More than two million pet owners have an insurance policy on their companions and by 2010 the association expects more than 5 percent of pet owners will carry a pet insurance card.
The frills offered by this new breed of boarders may not make much difference to pets, but Long McLeod said there are studies that show music can help calm an excitable dog.
“I think more of it is probably geared toward the owner who is making the decision about where to take their pets,” Long McLeod said.
The Pet Care Services Association in Colorado said the hotel industry for pets varies widely in terms of the types of services offered. Nicole Singleton is the marketing director for the group, and said she recently reviewed plans to construct a $20 million facility in California. Some offer an in-house staff of veterinarians, obedience training and grooming.
“Across the board, more and more, what we see is that it’s because of the demands of consumers that they’re required to offer additional services,” Singleton said.
The Spot emphasizes playtime so that pet owners are assured their dog will be tuckered out at the end of day. Bottled water is available, as are grooming services, nail trims, ear cleaning and even teeth cleaning.
To get in, pets must first pass a screening process that will determine whether the dog may act aggressively toward other pets. Such behavior won’t be allowed, said Bernar, and tennis balls will be the toy du jour in an effort to avoid possessive behavior.
The Spot is open seven days a week and can be visited online at www.thespotonline.org.