Treat your pet to high life in San Antonio kennelAt this resort, you can reserve a luxury suite with a pool. Choose masculine or feminine decor. Schedule a massage, recreation time or instruction in sport.
All can be had for as little as $36 a night, but there's a catch: You must be a dog.If you're of the feline persuasion, Caryl Fennell-Scrimpsher has a luxury spot for you, too. She has borrowed $700,000 to turn her 21-year-old business, Rob Cary Pet Resort, into the Helmsley Hotel of the dog and cat world.
Recently, Scrimpsher threw open the doors to a 19,000-square-foot addition with 68 new kennel spaces, a dozen of which are luxury suites complete with designer dog beds, TV sets and piped-in Muzak.
Music "mellows dogs out," she said.
Scrimpsher built the lavish addition because she is certain there is a market for it.
Indeed, the trade publication Marketing News noted in August that Americans are pampering pets as never before, perhaps because some couples have no children or have them later in life.
"Today, people's pets are very special to them," Scrimpsher said. "They're family. And there's nothing like this around. There is obviously a lot of pet-related retail, there's grooming and there's boarding. But nobody has put it together like this."
Scrimpsher's luxury suites for dogs include an indoor space that's air-conditioned and heated. There's a heated floor, a fake Persian rug and framed dog prints on the walls.
With the help of the staff, a phone can be brought in so Fido can hear his master's voice. A gourmet dog biscuit and daily play time is included. Some suites also sport dog-size sofas, along with a bed, and a wading pool for "outdoorsy-type" dogs, she said.
The deluxe doggie suites are an idea that grew out of a 1992 expansion at Rob Cary. Scrimpsher added 30 dog runs with air conditioning and piped-in music that "within a year, was very full," she said.
The resort also includes a room for "special needs pets," usually very old animals and for cats. The cat kennels boast sheepskin-covered shelves (for lounging) and plenty of windows (for spying).
"Cats like to sit and watch what's going on," she said.
Still another air-conditioned room is available for birds. It was designed with advice from a veterinarian and bird expert.
Rob Cary also offers grooming services and doggie day care, which she said is popular with people having work done on their homes or out on a shopping expedition.
Still another service is the "pet taxi." For a fee, Rob Cary will pick up and drop off your pet for grooming, stays and other services.
Scrimpsher also sells space in regular and upgraded dog runs that include air-conditioned and heated spaces. Those accommodations range in price from $11 to $15 a day, depending on a dog's weight. In addition, she offers "doggie day care" for those who want to board a pet just for the day.
Scrimpsher, a dog lover since childhood, said she had always hoped that she could make a living working with canines. She opened Rob Cary Pet Resort more than 20 years ago and has built the business largely by word-of-mouth.
"We are now taking care of some people's third-generation pets," said Scrimpsher, who breeds champion shetland sheepdogs.
With the addition, Rob Cary has 30,000 square feet on almost four acres.
The business employs 16, including Scrimpsher's son, John Fennell, who is general manager, and his wife, Rachel.