The Happy Cat Hotel
By Kathy Hosler
Photos by Whitepoint Imaging
When Chris and Meg Raimo opened Home Sweet Home Pet Care eleven years ago, they didn’t know it would grow and diversify, and cat–a–pult them into an exciting new business venture. Home Sweet Home is a house–call pet care service that provides dog walking, pet sitting, and other services.
“We made some consistent observations about the cats we cared for when going into the homes,” said Chris. “We found that, despite the fact that the cats were in their own environment, they were lonely. They might hide the first day we come in, but by the second and third day they were meeting us at the door. The cats were pining for affection. That’s when I started thinking about opening a cats–only hotel.”
The more they thought about it, the more Chris and Meg became convinced that there was a real need for this kind of facility. They found a property, obtained all the necessary permits and zoning, and built a luxury hotel— exclusively for cats. In 2014, the Happy Cat Hotel & Spa opened its doors in Windsor, Connecticut.
“The interaction and enrichment that we give our guests while they are here completely trumps anything we could provide them in their home by visiting once or twice a day,” Chris says. “We do not offer cat boarding in the traditional sense. We have individually themed, premium hotel rooms, complete with room service and a variety of amenities. That way, the kitties can enjoy destination vacations, just like their owners. Our customers really respond to that.”
The accommodations are magnificent! Individual rooms range from a spacious 270 to well over 500 cubic feet in size. Guests can vacation in their choice of a Weekend in Purris, Mew Orleans, Diva Las Vegas, Waikikitti, Happy Cat Lounge and more.
For example, in the Bonsai Kitty Room, a cat can get in touch with her inner feng–shui. The soothing room is beautifully decorated with traditional Japanese art, and available upgrades include a sushi bar, bonsai tree trimming activities, and feline reiki sessions. And if your kitty is a sports nut, the Green Line Feline is the best room in the house. This room’s south window overlooks Fenway Park! Batter up!
Each luxuriously decorated room has wall climbing systems, beds and hammocks, comfy furniture, toys, and more. The Happy Cat has a very open design with windows in every room and doors with glass fronts to allow lots of natural light into each room.
The cats thrive when they have their own personal space, but they are never lonely. Team members interact with the kitties throughout the day. Brushing, playtime, and room service are all included in their standard services. And, their staff is fully trained to care for any special needs of the guests—from administering oral medications, to giving insulin injections.
“Our staff is pivotal to our success,” Meg says. “For any business owner, their staff is a reflection of the operation, the brand, the ownership, and management. It all goes hand in hand.”
“Everything our customers experience revolves around our staff,” Chris continues. “From the way we answer the phones, to how we care for their cats, and how we see them out the door—taking their pet carriers and luggage to the cars for them.”
The Happy Cat Spa has full grooming and spa services available to their guests and also offers walk–in services. Appointments can be scheduled during the cat’s stay, and then continue on a regular basis throughout the year.
The Happy Cat Rewards Club is very popular with their clients. Customers earn reward points on rooms, grooming services, and retail purchases – and they can be redeemed on any service or product the hotel offers.
Although word–of–mouth is the hotel’s number one business builder, their website www.happycathotel.com draws many new clients.
“Our interactive website is invaluable,” says Chris. “People have the ability to look at every room we have and see what ‘destination’ their cat would most enjoy. They can punch in their travel dates and see the available rooms. Then they are able to reserve the room that they have chosen. Owners can also make grooming appointments online. We work very hard to make our website easy to navigate.”
New advances in technology enable Happy Cat to stay in touch with the owners. They regularly email updates and photos to the pet parents. Webcams allow the owners to watch their kitties during their stay. Everything is geared toward providing the owner a priceless gift—the peace of mind that their cats are happy and are receiving the best care possible.
“Our biggest advantage is the system we have developed,” says Chris. “We work tirelessly to improve every part of our system to create a well–rounded, complete experience for our clients every day. Our business has really evolved, and we are on the precipice of exponential growth.”
The Raimo’s have a lot of innovative ideas in the works. They are in the planning stage of developing their own brands of pet foods and litter. And, one of their big goals is now a reality. They have started to franchise the Happy Cat Hotel & Spa.
“Every successful element that we’ve developed with our brand and system is shared and trained with the independent franchise owners,” says Meg. “Their startup can hit the ground running from day one.”
Luxury destination accommodations, one–on–one attention, spa services, stellar customer care, and more…this feline oasis has it all purr–fected!