There’s a rooftop swimming pool. A spa with aromatherapy massages on offer. Air-conditioned rooms with velvet-upholstered bedding that range from standard single to a royal suite with attached balcony. Round-the-clock personal assistance. A medic on call. A leisure room with your favourite TV channels and lots of games to keep you entertained. A fitness instructor. Healthy, freshly cooked meals. A shopping centre and café. And lots of smiling, happy people to pat your head and tell you how cute you are.
That sure sounds like doggy heaven.
Critterati, a luxury pet hotel in Gurugram, has held nothing back when it comes to pampering your four-legged family. Launched eight months ago by hotelier and realtor Deepak Chawla and his wife Jaanwi, the six-storey property near the swanky Galleria market in Gurugram’s DLF Phase IV has its sights set on being the most luxurious dog hotel in all of South Asia.
Offering day boarding as well residential services to wealthy dog owners from across north India – they even have customers travelling in from as far as Punjab and Madhya Pradesh to leave their furry darlings when going on trips – the hotel has quickly made its mark and upped the ante for dog kennels and boarding centres in NCR.
Chawla, who has five dogs of his own at home, came up with the idea when one of his own dogs, a German Shepherd, died after prolonged mismanagement at a dog boarding facility. He travelled to the US, Dubai and other countries, seeking ideas for a hotel where pets could feel as loved and pampered as at home – if not more.
With Deepak’s family background in hospitality and Jaanwi’s skills in organizational and HR management, the couple has adapted a cosmopolitan idea to the Indian context. “The first thing we looked for was dog-lovers,” he explains of his recruitment strategy. All 42 employees on his rolls are naturally well-disposed towards animals.
The receptionist and office manager, for instance, says she resigned from her previous job the moment she heard about a job opening at this hotel last year. Going by the big smile on her face as she cuddles a 45-day Beagle pup and plays with a six-year-old Golden Retriever in the reception whose owners are soon to pick them up, her new role clearly rates high on job satisfaction.
At any given time, the hotel can accommodate up to 40-48 dogs and are now renovating one entire floor to welcome 12 cats as well. Each dog’s daily routine begins at 5.30 am with potty walks on a separate terrace that is meticulously sanitized. Each pooch is kept busy all through the day till about 9.30 pm, including rest and play times.
Depending on the day boarding or residential package (which start from Rs 999 and go up to Rs 4499 per night room rate), you can opt for pamper sessions including an Ayurvedic spa treatment, medical checkup, swimming, shampooing, and so on.
Meals are carefully made according to each dog’s body weight and nutritional demands, and they even have televisions put up in each room to give dogs a sense of ‘home’. “Clients have to accompany their dogs on the first two days, leaving them for 20 minutes the first time and 40 minutes the second time, so that the dogs get acclimatized to the place and don’t feel as if they are abandoned,” says Chawla.
He points to the café next to the reception area, which serves both humans and canines, where clients can wait while their animals are serviced.
Though the concept of such dog hotels already exists in cities like Bengaluru, Critterati has quickly become the most sought-after in northern India for the affluent who treat their pets as family.
With 1,200 tailed customers already, they also have about 150 members in their exclusive ‘Critterati Club’, the membership to which starts from Rs 23,999 per year and includes unlimited grooming and 12 swimming sessions among many other services.
Many clients are expats who travel for long periods of time, and the hotel has even hosted dogs up to three months. One of the pets, who stayed at the facility for 35 days, was so well looked after that it refused to go home with its owner, and had to be brought back daily for short periods and gradually weaned away, confides Chawla.
The enthusiastic response to the hotel has meant that Chawla is now looking to set up more branches. “When our customers go on vacation elsewhere, their dogs come for vacation here,” he says. Sounds like a win-win situation!