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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pampered Pets Visit Suite Retreat

By Bruce C. Smith

A comfy stay for a night costs between $22 and $39

Big Boy curled up in a warm space near the top of his cat condo in the new Fishers PetSuites pet spa.

His vantage point was, well, "purrfect."

The large, year-old, long-haired Persian could keep one eye on a bird feeder just inches outside of a window. Meanwhile, he was just a few feet from the brightly colored topical fish swimming in an aquarium nearby.

Fishers PetSuites
Canine accommodations: Meka stays in one of the PetSuites townhouses, equipped with furnishings including Animal Planet on television, framed dog poster, twin bed and dog pillow. -- Amber Sigman / The Star

"It is just like a vacation for him," said Big Boy's owner, Cheryl Drake, Hamilton County. She left Big Boy in PetSuites for a few days while the family was on vacation.

"I was afraid to just leave him at home or have him stay with a friend, because sometimes they can get temperamental," she said.

But Big Boy appeared to be enjoying his time in PetSuites, which bills itself as a resort for pets.

The 20,000-square-foot facility opened this month at 9271 Park East Court in a Fishers business park along the west side of Ind. 37 between 131st and 141st streets.

It is the third of five locations for the Kentucky-based PetSuites owned by Bruce Lunsford, Brian Durbin, and founder Joe Mason who used his own dog, Elvis, as the company's model and mascot.

Mason had worked for a nationwide department store chain and traveled frequently but had trouble finding a nice place to leave Elvis when he was away. Several years of research resulted in the PetSuites design.

They are choosing locations in the upscale suburbs of Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and other cities, where there are many families willing to spend money to care for their pets.

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association estimates that nationwide sales in the pet industry are nearly $35 billion a year, including $2.2 billion for grooming and boarding.

Durbin said "there have been studies that found 91 percent of pet owners tell their pets that they love them each night and 61 percent give them birthday gifts."

So, pet owners are clearly willing to spend on their creatures' comforts.

Valerie Bassett, Fishers, accepted the offer of a tour of the new PetSuites as a potential vacation home for Jasper, her 3-year-old boxer.

"I'd feel very comfortable leaving my dog here. They can get out of their cages and have play time outside or indoors," she said. "That's my baby, so nothing's too good."

An overnight stay in this pet palace will cost between $22 and $39. But prices can vary up and down a lot, especially for more than one animal, er, make that guest, and other offerings at the spa. There are discounts for extra guests from the same family.

There are a la cart options, such as extra play and walk sessions. There's the Charles Barkley toss and retrieve and the frequent flyer Frisbee toss.

Jody Ashley, Zionsville, was at PetSuites recently to drop off Buddy, a 2-year-old mix.

On the Ashley family's first visit to PetSuites, the first thing they saw was a sampling of the townhouses, penthouses and standard cages for dogs.

H. Kristen Miller, general manager at the Fishers PetSuites, explained that the 48-square-foot townhouses are best for dogs under 65 pounds, while larger dogs fit in the 88-square-foot penthouse spaces.

All totaled, there are 209 spaces in the climate-controlled PetSuites, including six penthouses and 18 townhouses. The rest are dubbed condos.

Furnishings are just like home in the fancy areas of the spa.

Penthouse and townhouse accommodations include a television tuned to Animal Planet. There are playful dog photos framed on the walls and a plastic bin to keep track of any favorite toys brought in.

Some of the spaces are large enough for two if dogs from the same family stay, Miller said.

Sleeping arrangements include one or two metal-frame beds with mattresses, the same sold in department stores as toddler furniture for children's bedrooms.

Bedding for everyone is soft, plush lamb's wool blankets, or a short pile rubberized carpet.

Room service, meaning the meals, are a menu of Iams and Eukanuba pet food products, but special diets can be arranged.

While PetSuites doesn't offer a mint on the pillow, there is a tuck-in treat at bedtime.

Unlike the standard five-star hotel for people, PetSuites has floor drains for quick cleanup of spills and accidents. The place is disinfected daily.

Back in the front lobby, the grooming room is off to one side, where stylists can provide a bath, a blow dry, a brush out and haircut, nail trim and other pampering. And like any good spa, PetSuites offers a light body massage and coat shaving.

Nearby is the cattery, where Big Boy was holding court.

Each of the cat condos is four vertical levels, beginning on the floor with the litter box, then a carpeted sitting space on the second level, the food and water bowls on the third, and finally the window seat on the top shelf.

It is all part of the PetSuites goal to help pet owners enjoy their own guilt-free vacation and other trips when they must leave their pets behind.

"It is a responsibility we take very seriously," Durbin said.

Miller, who formerly worked for a nationwide book retailer before finding a fun and challenging job at PetSuites, joked "I just figure I have furry children."

Pamper yourself with a figurine of your favorite dog breed


Blogger Raven said...

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11:49 AM  

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