March 12, 2008 -- Doggie resorts are starting to appear at some of the USA's largest airports. A growing number of airports are seeing 24-hour pet hotels being built inside or near their compounds, saving travelers the headache of scrambling to drop off their dogs or cats at neighborhood kennels.
Travelers can find pet hotels near the airports at Jacksonville, New Orleans and Portland, Ore. Pet hotel operators have plans to open facilities or are in discussions with Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Chicago O'Hare, Chicago Midway, Houston Bush Intercontinental, Houston Hobby and Minneapolis.
"Given that more people have pets, it's just a natural progression of services that airports should offer," says Saq Nadeem, founder of Paradise 4 Paws, which will open next month near Chicago O'Hare.
Airports are also looking to boost their non-aviation revenue. And pets are a big market: Americans spend $3 billion a year boarding and grooming their pets, says the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association.
Airports and their private partners are betting that 24-hour service and proximity to the terminal are enough to entice customers away from neighborhood kennels, which often close early and open late.
The flexible hours led Bruce Hamilton, a television anchorman in Jacksonville, to board his dog, Marley, at Pet Paradise, which is open 24 hours.
"It's extremely convenient that you can pick up and drive there anytime," Hamilton says. "I don't have to bring my dog a day before."
Paradise 4 Paws will even operate a long-term, 22-spot parking lot on-site, so that its customers can take the shuttle directly to the airport.
Daily rates for dog hotels can range widely — from $15 a night for a cage at the local veterinarian office to $70 for a large room with extra perks.
Pet Paradise, which has two locations within a mile of the airports at Jacksonville and New Orleans and plans to open at Houston Intercontinental and Houston Hobby, charges $30 per night for its basic package. The rate includes a $2 premium, compared with its in-town locations, for the extra hours, says Fred Goldsmith, CEO of Pet Paradise.
Airport pet hotels typically offer more upscale amenities than the average kennel, such as beds, non-caged rooms with outdoor access, and in-ground swimming pools.
Pet Paradise boasts a dog-bone-shaped swimming pool and webcams that let owners check on their pets remotely. Paradise 4 Paws plans to install flat-screen TVs in some suites that would play DVD footage of customers playing with their pets. Slumber parties are available for pets that don't want to be alone.
"The last time we went to go pick up Marley, he didn't want to leave the other dogs," Hamilton says.