AC Press Dec. 21 2011
AC PET HOTEL - Atlantic City Pet Hotel Accommodates Visitors to the City
By ELAINE ROSE Staff Writer pressofAtlanticCity.com
ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City Pet Hotel is still a work in progress, but the owner does his best to make sure that dogs and cats enjoy their stay as much as the owners enjoy the resort’s amenities for people.
The lobby is bright, with a mural of cats and dogs frolicking on the beach, a colorful playpen holding a small canine or two, and doggie clothes and other pet accoutrements offered for sale.
The pet hotel is not an ordinary kennel, owner Scott Winston, 65, is quick to emphasize. Dogs get walked four times a day, in the morning, early afternoon, evening and late night. Larger, more active canines can get additional exercise by running on a leash alongside a staff member’s bicycle.
The pet hotel serves its guests bottled water, “just like they do in the fine restaurants in Atlantic City,” Winston said. There are refrigerators to keep their food fresh, and microwaves to heat it up for animals that prefer warm meals.
Cats stay in multi-level kitty condos with a window view, located in Winston’s apartment above the main area. They often have the run of the place, and his wife, Jackie, gives them all the cuddles and lap-sits they want.
The rates are $20 a day for cats, and $25 to $35 a day for dogs, depending on the size.
About 70 percent of customers are visitors to Atlantic City, Winston said. They are welcome to come at free moments during their stay to visit or walk their pets.
Dogs stay on the first floor in roomy cages, some decorated with pictures, with more space for larger breeds, Winston said. Those whose owners don’t bring their own beds are provided with one. An outdoor covered area in the back serves as a play yard and canines whose owners allow it can play together under supervision.
Canine guests get brushed every day and have their eyes cleaned, Jackie Winston said. The staff keeps records of what they eat, the medicines they take and other information.
The hotel is building “high-roller suites” for dogs whose owners want to give them luxury accommodations, Jackie Winston said. They will be equipped with webcams, so owners can check in on them. New indoor play areas, also with webcams, are also under construction.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Scott Winston said he worked in the travel industry for 37 years. But as people began booking trips online, he had to seek a new line of work.
“I always loved dogs, and I had to find a business that the Internet wouldn’t take away,” he said.
The kennel, which had been open only four hours a day under the previous owners, had closed in October 2005, Winston said. So he bought the place, gutted and refurbished it and reopened in July 2006.
“We understood that in order to be justified in serving the community and the patrons who come into Atlantic City, it had to be a 24-hour operation,” Winston said.
“The biggest challenge was getting the right staff in here,” Jackie Winston said. “It took a long time to find staff who love the pets as much as we do.”
The pet hotel also offers dog grooming during normal business hours, and doggie daycare and pick-up and drop-off service for owners coming into town for a day or evening, Scott Winston said.
While the business will never make him rich, he said, he loves it, and it pays the bills.
“I’ve always wanted to walk to work. Now I go down the bannister,” he said. “I’m always on time, and I have the best job in the world, because I’m with the four-legged children.”
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