On the Money

Pet hotels are riding the booming market for animal luxuries

Key Points
  • With Americans spending more on pets, destination vacations for dogs and cats are becoming more popular.
  • Prices may be fairly steep, ranging from $200 per night and up at one location

Pet vacation spending
Pet vacation spending

For many people, summertime means a time to kick back and relax on vacation. And for some very pampered pets, it can be an opportunity to do the same while their owners are away.

Last year Americans spent some $66 billion on the pet industry as a whole, a record high, according to the American Pet Products Association. In 2017, overall spending is projected to climb to nearly $70 billion. Close to $6 billion was spent on boarding and grooming services alone—and small businesses like D Pet Hotels Chelsea in New York City are reaping the benefits.

The hotel has standard dog daycare services for as little as $25 for three hours of playtime. It also features puppy perks, like chauffeur services to and from the location, chef-prepared meals, and a doggie gym called "Pant" to work off those extra treats.

There's also an "Uber Suite," which runs at $200 a night, with full-size beds and dog-friendly programming for guests. Regular clients spend anywhere from $800 to $2,000 a month on their dogs.

The swank dog hotel is part of a franchised operation with locations across the country. Co-owner Kerry Brown, who formerly worked in marketing at Lululemon Athletica, says spring and summer are among her busiest seasons as clients head off to Europe and the Hamptons for vacations.

"Our high-end services, our Uber Suites, are booked almost every weekend, because there's always that client who wants to make sure their dog gets the very best they can ask for," Brown told CNBC. "Summertime is crazy busy for us, mostly on weekends, but during the week as well."

People now are treating their cats more like children-- they're seeking out more interactive and customized experiences for their pets, as opposed to just leaving them at home.
Joanne Morris
Morris Animal Inn
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Still, dogs aren't the only ones living it up on mini vacations of their own.

At Morris Animal Inn in Morristown, New Jersey, cats are vacationing in style. The family-owned and operated animal boarding home features luxury accommodations for cats, including kitty condos and suites with plush beds and televisions.

For cats that need more interaction and attention, there's also kitty cuddling services, nature walks and game time on the iPad. Prices range depending on services from $30.95 a night for standard boarding up to $70.

"People now are treating their cats more like children — they're seeking out more interactive and customized experiences for their pets, as opposed to just leaving them at home," said Joanne Morris, vice president of Morris Animal Inn, Inc.

"They want to know their cat is being taken care of — not necessarily just check on, but really monitored with someone who understands their well being and behavior, and what will make them happy in the long run," Morris added.

Both businesses are seeing impressive growth: D Pet Hotels told CNBC their spring this year was up 25 percent over last year, and summer saw 10 percent growth so far over 2016. Meanwhile, at Morris Animal Inn, demand for cat-related services is up 40 percent in the past five years.

"We treat dogs like we are their family," Brown said of her dog hotel. "We want them to get the very best, and know our clients expect to have their dogs treated just as well as their children are treated."

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