The Ultimate Vacation Spot For Cool Cats And Hot Dogs
By Kathy Hosler
“When a pet is pulling its owner into the building, then you know you are doing it right,” says Annmarie Paparella, owner and founder of the VIPet Resort.
The VIPet resort, located in Orlando, Florida, is an all–inclusive luxury facility that offers overnight boarding, doggie daycare, grooming, and more. It has been in business for fifteen years and is in existence today because of one little puppy.
“When my daughter was five, we got an adorable Samoyed puppy,” recalls Annmarie. “We planned a family vacation and couldn’t take the puppy with us. I began to search for boarding facilities for her, and the choices I looked at were not ideal. Everything I found was purely ‘kennel’ type with crates and cages. It was heartbreaking for me to leave her in a place like that when we were out having fun.”
“I thought long and hard about the situation and knew that I couldn’t be the only pet owner that felt that way. Then I said to my husband, ‘I want to open a pet resort where the dogs and cats can have fun!’ He replied, ‘You want to what?’ And, that’s how it all began.”
Ms. Paparella began to research all of the things that she wanted her facility to have. She found the perfect location, and soon—the ‘ultimate vacation spot for cool cats and hot dogs’ became a reality.
The 8,000 sq. ft. all–indoor resort has a very warm, inviting homelike feel to it. Instead of chain link and concrete they have beautifully finished floors and private suites. The dog suites are 3′ x 7′ and 4′ x 8′. They feature comfy beds, offer maid and room service, and have TV’s for the guests’ viewing pleasure. Instead of harsh fluorescent lighting, they have softer, lower intensity lights. You don’t get a cold, commercial feeling when you are in the resort.
The indoor play area, Hot Dog Park, is where overnight guests and doggie daycare attendees can romp all day. Pets are divided into groups according to their size and temperament and are continually supervised by staff members. The spacious park has lots of room to exercise and plenty of play equipment, and they never worry about the weather. There are gorgeous murals on the walls that give the park a real outdoor atmosphere.
Feline guests also enjoy the utmost in pampering in their 3′ x 3′ x 8′ tall cat condos that have multiple levels for sleeping and playing. They have their own exclusive Cool Cat Courtyard, which is an open area with lots of toys, cat towers and cubbies to play in. Each cat enjoys private time in the Courtyard twice a day.
Milo’s Salon and Spa provides everything from baths and mini grooms, to full–service grooming. They offer pampering body massages and other spa services. Almost all of the boarding clients book a visit to the spa before they check out.
Last year the VIPet resort had a big expansion. Their newest addition is called the Companion Club. This exclusive club encompasses an entire floor and is available only to pets that weigh less than twenty–five pounds. Every dog gets a 4′ x 8′ deluxe penthouse suite complete with their own private TV, a bed with pillows and blankets, and specialty treats that are made fresh daily.
The Companion Club’s exclusive play area is called the Poconuts Beach Club. The life–like beach themed murals on the walls help create a fun–filled vacation atmosphere for the pups. It is equipped with a luxurious bone–shaped swimming pool that is surrounded by pint–sized lounge chairs.
“The Companion Club has turned out to be an amazing concept,” says Ms. Paparella. “The area is much calmer and quieter for the smaller pets. Our customers love the fact that their little family members are more relaxed when boarding at the Club.”
The VIPet resort has chosen all–inclusive pricing for their guests. “We find it is easier for the customer. They don’t have to pick and choose the options they want,” Annmarie says. “Every pet gets the works at one price with no surprises!”
Because Orlando attracts tourists from all over the country, VIPet Resort cares for a lot of pets while their owners visit the local theme parks. Their website, www.vipet.net is how both local and out of town guests find the resort on the internet.
“We have all the information about our facility and vaccination requirements, etc. on our website,” says Annmarie. “There are lots of photos of our building, the dog parks, and the inside of the suites and cat condos. We want everyone to know exactly what the accommodations their pets are staying in are like.”
“Social media is the way of the world these days,” Ms. Paparella continues. “My daughter, Nicole (who is now my business partner) has a master’s degree in marketing, and she’s my social media guru. She posts lots of things on Facebook and Snapchat, and the customers love it!”
“I often broadcast live from the playrooms,” says Nicole. “The videos are great because you can see and hear everything that is going on in real time. We also like to post other fun things we do like Halloween costume contests and Christmas ugly sweater contests.” The clients love Nicole’s postings and when they share them with their friends, it attracts new business for the resort.
Ms. Paparella credits a lot of VIPet’s popularity and success to her dedicated staff. “Our VIPet team is simply amazing,” Annmarie states. “They are all animal lovers with multiple pets of their own. They treat our guests with the love, care, and attention that they give their own pets.”
Puppy love has been the central theme of the resort since that adorable little Samoyed sparked its conception.
“Our success is solely attributed to the fact that we love our pets,” say Annmarie and Nicole. “Yes, our facility is beautiful and immaculate, but it’s the love and care that we show our guests that makes the difference. Our repeat business is about 95%. That’s a lot of very happy ‘cool cats and hot dogs’!”