Unleashing a chain

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Talk about a business with bite: PetSmart, the largest U.S. pet-store chain, is doing so well with its 62 PetsHotels that it's planning for 435, says Bloomberg News.

At PetsHotels, owners can drop off their four-footed friends for grooming, lactose-free, fat-free ice cream, even television—and lodging. If major brands like Loews and Kimpton can be pet-friendly, why not? Lodging for pets exclusively makes sense, both business and cultural. On the business side, PetsHotels posted sales of $16.7 million in 2005, double the $8.7 million of 2004. Sales at PetSmarts with lodging are 29 percent higher after the fifth year than those without PetsHotels.

Bloomberg also notes a recent survey that found that 85 percent of pet owners call their dogs family members; 78 percent of cat owners do the same, and 80 percent of owners buy their pets holiday and birthday gifts.

A dog owner pays about $31 a night for a room with a window that measures 4 feet by 7 feet. Among the amenities of the stay: chew toys and a mini-slide, inside a supervised indoor playroom. The "suites" have raised dog beds with lambskin blankets and a television. The tube, naturally, favors videos like Disney's "101 Dalmatians" and "The Lady Is a Tramp," perfect excuses for couch potatohood after a vigorous workout.

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