Hemmed in by gas prices and wilting under the heat?
Consider this: Mesa's newest luxury hotel offers an inviting getaway for as little as $27 a night. Your package includes thrice-daily meals, as well as exercise and group activities - all in pristine air-conditioned comfort. Evenings will find you pleasantly spent, enjoying the view from your private room as you savor the day. You might wonder how you found such a smoking deal. Or you might just lick yourself. Because you have to be a dog.
OK, cats can come, too.
ROOM FOR CATS
PetSmart, the animal care products chain, redefined the term "stay!" by opening an 142-"room" dog and cat hotel at 1733 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa. The 5,000-square-foot PetsHotel, one of 10 such establishments in Arizona and more than 100 nationwide, targets pet owners who are travel-ready but kennel-shy. "I think what sets us apart from a kennel are the amenities," PetsHotel manager Charlie Rosenbam says. "We try to make it more like home."
Built into the northern end of a PetSmart store, PetsHotel has its own 23-person staff and a look that mimics midlevel business-style hotels. A dark wood reception desk and faux fireplace await you at check-in. (Only the counter-mounted biscuit dish and the inquisitive pugs peering from the play area hint this may not be on the AAA guide.) "We have double doors at every entrance and 24-hour-a-day monitoring," Rosenbam says, nodding to the closed-circuit television above. "We also have 24-hour emergency vet care."
PetsHotel boards cats and dogs. But in compliance with biblical prophecy and "Ghostbusters," they do not live together. "The cats are kept in a different area, with a separate ventilation system," Rosenbam explains. Because nothing bugs a traveling dog more than the smell of cat in his room. "It just keeps everybody calmer," he says.
The Kitty Cottage features clean, well-kept nooks (2 by 2 1/2 by 3 feet). A lambskin bed bunks above a small litter box, with one dish for water, one for food (standard fare is Science Diet) and plenty of room for cat toys. "We encourage people to bring their own cat toys for something familiar," Rosenbam says. Because cats aren't pack animals (and seldom do groups, unless a carcass is involved) your cat's $14-a-night stay includes solitary exercise, twice daily, and quality television. "We have lots of cat-related movies," he says. "See Spot Run," "101 Dalmatians." No one, as yet, has requested Halle Berry. "Cats are generally easier to care for, because they just like to be left alone," he explains. Dogs? Well, they seem to want more of a cruise.
DOGS LIKE TO NETWORK
"Dogs under 25 pounds receive a 4-by-4 room. Dogs over 25 pounds receive a 4-by-6 floor room." These are cozy, with double dishes, hypoallergenic lambskin beds and windowed doors to see out. But what fun is a vacation if you're trapped in the room? "Each dog receives a minimum of two walks a day, with potty breaks, and playtime with other dogs of their size." Extra walks or playtime can be had for an additional fee, as can Kong-wrapped treats and lactose-free vanilla soft serve (a canine favorite). Owners can opt for their dog's own diet over the hotel menu, and regular medication is also doable. "We don't do injections or sedatives, but we can administer pills for allergies and things of that nature," Rosenbam says.
The Mesa facility's strip mall location and the triple-digit heat preclude outdoor exercise. But members of the large-dog play group are too busy sniffing each other's acquaintance in the play area to notice. The large glass-walled activity rooms look like a canine version of your junior high gym, but with on-site supervision, Pebble Tec floors and drains for those inspired to pee. "We have four play groups, ordinated by size," Rosenbam explains. The groups are capped at 17 dogs maximum. Aggressive breeds, non-neutered dogs and those with behavioral problems are exercised separately. "A lot of owners bring their dogs just for socialization," he says. "It's too hot for the dog park these days, and we offer a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day camp for $21."
PetsHotel leans more toward the atmosphere of midrange human hotels than the caterwauling warehouse feel of kennels. A glance into the glass-walled play area shows a staffer throwing a rope toy to an enthusiastic medium-sized play group. "On our breaks, a lot of us like to go in and play with whatever group is meeting," Rosenbam chuckles. "You can't do that at a regular hotel."