Forget the Four Seasons. There's a new hotel in town, and it has gone to the dogs.
The Pooch Hotel in Los Angeles has been catering to canines for more than six months and offers day care and overnight stays.
Pooch Hotel manager Sean Nolan said the concept of being able to house one's pets temporarily allows working and traveling pet owners to leave their dogs in a "safe and fun environment."
"Dogs don't have very much to do during the day. They bring them here, we get their energy out, they get to socialize, make friends, have a good time," Nolan said. "Owners come back in the evening, dog is tired. They are worn out. I always say if a dog falls asleep in the back seat in 30 seconds, we've done our job."
All rooms are equipped with webcams, so owners can monitor their pets, along with couches, dog beds and bowls, and sometimes televisions, depending on the suite.
Three types of suites exist and range from $60 to $125 a night. The private sleeping quarters are made with solid walls and glass doors to create a private and relaxed living environment for the dogs.
"[Dogs] need a good safe, secure place to be kept. We don't have any bars or cages," he said. "There is nothing that would remind the dog of being institutionalized. It is a comfortable place for them."
The hotel is run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All dogs are treated to three-hour play sessions, winding down time in their suites, swimming, exercising, grooming, and most importantly socializing with other dogs, Nolan said.
"Dogs really want to be dogs. They want to have that interaction with their own species and have some fun. And our play areas, our cage-free areas, really allow that to happen," Nolan said. "Dogs get out there, they have a chance to run around, they wrestle, they play fight, they have a good time. And on top of that, they have a good place to rest."
The facilities can house up to 120 dogs and most dogs are accepted after an interview process conducted by a Pooch Hotel employee.
"We don't discriminate by any specific breeds," he said. "The only dogs we probably won't take are those that are aggressive towards humans. If we can't take care of the dogs, then there is really not much we can do for you. Other than that, there's very little in the way of restrictions."
For Pooch Hotel patron Ken Congemi, leaving his 5-year-old pit-bull mix Sandy was "a little traumatic."
"Usually I leave her with friends, and this time people were away and I've actually used other facilities before, but this one seemed really nice when I came to the grand opening," Congemi said. "So we came on Saturday and she had her interview and she did really well and so I feel confident."
Congemi watched as Sandy continued to play with her new friends and said she seemed to be adjusting well.
Another patron, Kevin Lee, brought his cocker spaniel to the Pooch Hotel for an interview to be housed at the hotel when he leaves town for the holidays.
"It's going to be weird. I feel like I am going to miss him like I miss a kid," Lee said. "I don't have any kids. If nothing else, I am going to try and be optimistic about it like yeah, it is a little break for me and also I know he will have a good time too."
He said a reason he decided to leave his dog at the hotel was because of the webcam service, which pet owners can access with their home computers.
"All of our play areas are webcammed, a lot of our larger suites are webcammed as well, so you can see what is going on here," Nolan said. "Nothing happens here that we are afraid to show anybody anytime."
Nolan said the holidays are starting to book up quickly and that Thanksgiving in particular will be busy.
The Pooch Hotel is open year round and has four additional locations in California, two in Illinois, one in Massachusetts and one in Texas.
- Hobbies & Personal Activities