Niche market bolstered by influx of foreign families
Cat and dog hotels in Greater Porto are close to full for the Christmas season and are increasingly welcoming pets from foreign families living in Portugal who are returning home at this time, writes Lusa.
Several entrepreneurs in this niche of the hotel sector reveal that the occupancy rate in their hotels is hovering around 100% for the festive season.
Canines and felines stay in individual suites with ‘outdoor views’, decorated with paintings, cushions and/ or sofas (to serve as nests), polar blankets, infrared heating lamps; there are even 24-hour surveillance cameras, in Hotel Mais Animais.
The home-from-home service as a ‘full board’ option, although many guests take food from home adapted to their pets’ tastes and health.
“As well as veterinary medical services, there are also five-star perks, ranging from walks in the garden to socialising, sunbathing on sun loungers, and even swimming in an indoor heated pool to burn off energy or lose weight”, says Lusa.
Many of the owners of these pets are Brazilian, Ukrainian, Russian, American, English, Chinese or Japanese living in Portugal who, at this time of year, go on holiday or visit their families and end up spending many days away from home, the entrepreneurs of these new ventures explain.
Lusa describes the VID ‘Very Important Dog’ wing, at Hotel Mais Animais, where rooms have 24-hour surveillance cameras: “Chiquita Banana, a Dachshund dog, is snuggled up in a heated carrycot with an infrared heating lamp and is waiting in a red polar blanket for her session in the hot water pool”.
Close to the VID wing, but in the ‘standard’ area of the hotel, is Asad, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, who enjoys the calm of country life in a room overlooking the garden, where he has a bed heated by an infrared lamp.
Hotel Animais Mais Animais is a hotel with a veterinary hospital located in Maia, within the Porto district, and is fully booked for the forthcoming Christmas season, including New Year.
Hotel boss Diana Mesquita adds that bookings were all made “well in advance”.
A large number of Hotel Mais Animais’ customers are Brazilians who want to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in their home country.
At the Pet Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto), the suites for dogs and cats are already sold out for this Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
“At the moment, the hotel’s three spaces are already full for both the Christmas and New Year’s weekends,” says manager David Mota, who describes his hotel’s customers as being a mix of nationalities – most of them foreigners who “go and visit family at Christmas and New Year and need to leave their pets for more than two weeks”.
At Pets & Family, a dog hotel in Maia with a doggy daycare centre, occupancy rate is almost 100%, although there are still a few vacancies left for regular customers who ask to stay at the last minute, says João Pereira.
The regime at Pets & Family is quite different to the others: animals are always loose, with the 24-hour company of the caretakers, so that they can socialise and do not miss their owners, says João.
Here pets sleep in a larger room with several beds and a bunk bed where “the attendant” sleeps (a two-legged one), “so that they are calmer during their overnight stays”.
For anyone who has lived in Portugal for a couple of decades, this is all light years from facilities available ‘in the early days’, and shows how much attitudes towards pets are changing in a country where citizens still sadly ‘abandon’ animals, and leave puppies and kittens in rubbish bins.
Source material: LUSA