A cre­ative Cape Town trio has cap­tured ca­nine and hu­man hearts by pro­vid­ing a home away from home for pets whose own­ers drop them off for day­care and ex­tended stays

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - HOME - By Vi­vian Warby

IF YOU think the say­ing “it’s a dog’s life” is about dif­fi­cult times, you’re bark­ing up the wrong tree, after tak­ing a peek in­side the lives of guests at the @frits Ho­tel. The doggy stopover will vie for glory as Guin­ness Book of Records’ big­gest dog ho­tel on the planet when it opens in a new 2 400m² Bree Street home later this year.

While the mutts are not of­fered overly fancy treats, such as ba­con-in­fused wa­ter or a but­ler ser­vice, there cer­tainly is a menu to make tongues pant.

The dog day spa and sa­lon of­fers its ca­nine cus­tomers an op­por­tu­nity to step out in style after a pam­per makeover ses­sion.

“The only decor in the spa is hang­ing plants. We wanted to cre­ate open space with glass so own­ers can see how we groom their pets,” says owner and founder Yanic Klue.

Each dog’s room is lov­ingly cu­rated to ooze glitz and quirk­i­ness and, of course, com­fort.

Pri­vate suites are kit­ted out with Granny Goose du­vets for com­fort. Plat­inum suites in­clude DSTV for the dogs to en­joy.

The room themes, look, feel and quirk­i­ness of the brand was a col­lab­o­ra­tive process that took years to per­fect.

“There was plenty of late-night brain­storm­ing around a bot­tle of wine or two,” say Klue and her part­ners-in-paws, mar­ket­ing man­ager Dante Lu­dolf de Koker and art di­rec­tor Bianca Geater.

In­te­ri­ors are de­signed so that pets will feel cosy.

“We sourced all types of cus­tom-made fur­ni­ture and decor to en­sure an­i­mals could re­lax to their farts’ con­tent (bas­set hounds, we’re star­ing at you), and en­joy the trap­pings and finer­ies a plush pet palace has to of­fer,” says the trio.

A favourite suite is Juras­sic Bark, which has its share of pop­u­lar banana leaf print and even some pink flamin­gos, which have had sev­eral guests, ca­nine and other­wise, con­tem­plat­ing lar­ceny.

“A for­merly pop­u­lar suite, now more of an in­side joke, is the Do­gald Trump suite,” says De Koker.

“We cre­ated it to em­body the glitzy, golden shine as­so­ci­ated with Trump Tow­ers – chan­de­liers, damask drapes and vin­tage dog fam­ily por­traits cre­ated very a la Trump, but now people who se­lect it do so as an ironic ges­ture.

“To be hon­est, the dash­ing dogs who stay in the Do­gald Trump suite might make pre­ferred lead­ers of the free world, while for more lo­cally in­clined politi­cos, there is a K9 Nkandla suite, but this one cost zero tax­pay­ers’ hard­earned rands.

“The pièce de la re­sis­tance at this suite is a chance to en­joy all the trap­pings of a minia­ture Nkandla – sheshwe and all.”

A favourite fea­ture at the ho­tel are live we­b­cams so own­ers can check on their hounds, say the team. “We be­lieve sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety goes both ways so we have the cam- eras and staff on site 24/7 to en­sure own­ers and an­i­mals are at ease.

“If an owner is far away and miss­ing their pet, they some­times call in to re­quest specials like a one-hour cuddle marathon, or a sooth­ing Sun­day drive where one of our duty man­agers starts up the frUBER (@Frits Uber) and takes the lucky four-legged baby around town. It is touch­ing to see the bond be­tween an­i­mal and hu­man. It makes what we do mean­ing­ful.”

While they have a bar area for pets, they don’t as yet have a Yappy Hour, but they do have Doggy Dat­ing, aka “Fun Times in the In­door Dog Park”, where own­ers and dogs can play in­side while it is rain­ing in the Mother City.

The in­door dog park, with benches and “Bark Bar” (beer strictly for hu­mans of age) also pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to min­gle with other dog own­ers.

“Who knows? Love is al­ways in the air around @frits.”

Klue says @frits started as a way to pro­vide an ac­ces­si­ble ser­vice to make pet own­er­ship eas­ier for Capeto­ni­ans.

“You might think a dog ho­tel is ex­clu­sively avail­able to those with plenty of cash, but we be­lieve in ac­ces­si­bil­ity and con­ve­nience. These days many eschew chil­dren in favour of pets. We wanted to be the place and ser­vice to which they turn for a home from home for their dogs.”

Clien­tele ranges from own­ers who live in apart­ments to fre­quent trav­ellers and own­ers who want their pets to ben­e­fit from so­cial­i­sa­tion and play.

They do have celebrity pets and own­ers, but “con­fur­de­nial­ity clawses” means they won’t say who.

Can we ex­pect any­thing new when they move to Bree Street?

“One thing we are ex­cited about is an in­door pool where dogs can splash about and have fun.

“We will also be of­fer­ing hy­drother­apy ses­sions with in­fi­nite an­i­mal ther­apy, a re­ju­ve­nat­ing and heal­ing treat­ment for dogs to put the spring back in their step,” says Klue.

Cer­tainly set for the woof of ap­proval.

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