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Sun, Apr 05, 2009 - Page 12 News List

As recession hits home, some pets still live in luxury

The D Pet Hotel in Hollywood, California, is a recession-proof business for its owners, who target eccentric, mega-rich clientele

By Paula Bustamante  /  AFP , LOS ANGELES

Dogs play in a special park on the grounds of the D Pet Hotel in Hollywood, California, on March 20.

PHOTO: AFP

From whole neighborhoods turned into foreclosure ghost towns to tent cities that have revived memories of the Great Depression, the recession is biting hard in California.

But for the canine clientele of an exclusive boutique hotel in Los Angeles, the financial crisis affecting the human world is just a shaggy dog story.

Whether it’s gourmet meals cooked to order or flat-screen TVs playing DVDs of 101 Dalmatians and The Lady and the Tramp, all needs of the four-legged guests of Hollywood’s D Pet Hotel are catered for.

At US$110 a night for the top room, some rates at the sleek establishment outstrip those found at popular tourist destinations. Las Vegas’s MGM Grand recently offered rooms at US$52 a night.

Alissa Cruz, 32, a former real estate agent who opened the hotel with her husband Allan in December, said the business targeted “people with an unlimited budget.”

“We have very eccentric people, people who have money. We’ve had a client who just for the fun of it requested to have his dog picked up in a Lamborghini,” Cruz said. “He just wanted the dog to be picked up from home and when the day was over take him back.”

The “Uber Suite” is the most expensive room at D Pet Hotel, with a queen size bed, a 106cm flat screen TV and chic decor.

Other rooms include the “Sensational Suite” at US$90 a night and the “BowWow suite” for US$65.

But while no expense is spared for those pet owners seeking to board their dogs, the hotel also offers luxurious spa and daycare services.

For pooches who have had one dog treat too many, customized “doggie treadmills” and personal training is available.

Other guests, meanwhile, can indulge in an array of spa treatments, including massages, body wraps and vitamin baths.

More active residents are able to socialize in the hotel’s 557m² indoor dog park, which is subdivided into three separate areas depending on a dog’s size.

“A French bulldog will not play the same as a 70-pound [31kg] lab,” Cruz said.

Cruz said she started the business out of her own experiences as a dog owner.

“It started out of the needs of my own dogs, because we traveled so much for work in our past careers and I always had to board them,” Cruz said.

“I’ve been to a lot of good, bad and ugly places and it always reminded me of a tunnel, a cage — and my girls are princesses,” Cruz said. “So many times I’ve walked into places and cried when I left my girls, because the place smelled horrible, you don’t trust the people behind the scenes and and they didn’t let me see a lot of things.”

D Pet Hotel publicist Bryan Cole said the hotel has so far escaped the ravages of recession.

“It’s Hollywood you know,” Cole said. “For the majority of people out here, their pets and their animals are their children and they would love to sacrifice lots of things in their lives before sacrificing their children.

“If that means not eating out once or twice a week they’d rather bring their dogs here and leave them in day care for US$65,” he said.

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