A fireplace roars in the corner. Photographs hang on the walls and vases brimming with flowers stand on the counter.
The hotel lobby I was standing in could be mistaken for any hotel in the city. But the creature comforts offered here really are for creatures — in the most literal and furriest sense of the word.
The Christmas season is for spending time with family. But if your holiday plans involve leaving the homestead, there’s nothing like knowing the dog you left behind is eating lactose-free ice cream while lounging in a hammock to alleviate any guilt of abandonment.
“A lot of people say that it’s nicer than half the places they stay,” said Alyssa Ferguson, a guest services associate at Ottawa’s newly opened Pet-Smart’s PetsHotel. “I think it’s a pretty neat idea. People go away on vacation and they stay in hotels. Why shouldn’t your pets?”
Pet hotels are the latest trend in the relatively recent phenomenon of people spoiling their pets. These days, when pets turn in for the night, they do it in style.
Inside the hotel on Coventry Road, video surveillance records animals’ — and staffers’ — every move. Private suites come equipped with a hammock, a personal television and pet-friendly videos. There are also sound-reduction measures so Fido’s sleeping patterns won’t be disturbed.
While pets don’t get mints on their pillows, the hotel does serve low-fat, lactose-free ice cream for dogs.
Pet hotels are serving the growing demand for luxury pet care, said Morgana Hughes, the hotel’s assistant manager.
“People treat their pets like kids,” she said. “Owners are very concerned about their pets. Owners can — and do — call the hotel mid-day to talk to their pets.”
Nancy Carson definitely considers her flat-coated retriever Daya to be her child. That’s why the Cumberland resident drops Daya off at doggie day care every morning, rather than leaving her at home.
“I have no kids and a good job,” Carson said. “I think she’s a better dog for it. She gets interaction and socialization and I think it makes her a better dog all around.”
Carson isn’t alone. People want the best for their animals, said Melanie Walker, the owner of Ottawa’s Pet Bed and Breakfast. And it’s no longer enough to have someone feed the cat while they’re away.
“They want something stimulating for their animals and they want their animals to have fun while they’re gone.”
Metro Ottawa’s Tracey Tong is an award-winning reporter. A Burlington native, Tong’s career has taken her all over Ontario. Her Cityscapes column appears every Wednesday.