VINCENNES, France — Heated pools, massage salons and a-la-carte menus are de rigueur at luxury hotels across the world, but in one exclusive Paris establishment, the difference is the guests: they have four legs and enthusiastically wagging tails.
Actuel Dogs bills itself as France’s first luxury hotel for dogs, and founders Devi and Stan Burun, a dog behavior specialist and lifelong dog-lover, also offer training programs unruly hounds and dog walks in the woods.
As well as a dip in the pool, or a massage, guests including Ulysse, a bumptious yellow Labrador sporting a smart red collar, enjoy “doggy jogging,” or simply relax on cushioned couches in their luxury suites.
Their tiled-floor rooms smell fresh and clean and are adorned with framed prints of dogs and equipped with televisions so dogs can watch their choice of DVDs.
Owners pay between 26 euros and 35 euros ($36-$48) to leave their lucky hounds for a full day. While the luxury touches appeal to owners, the key difference with traditional kennels is that dogs are not locked up in cages.
“People think we serve the dogs’ food from silver platters, but this is not pointless, extravagant luxury,” Devi said, as Clifford, an English bulldog, cocker spaniel puppy Floyd, golden retriever Cleo and miniature schnauzer Belle bounded around the hotel’s games room, equipped with a treadmill for training.
“It’s not like in the United States or Japan — giving the dogs manicures, dying their fur pink — that’s human madness. Our priority is to meet the dogs’ needs,” she added.
The concept works partly because of its location, in the chic suburb of Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris, and close to the woods.
“People live in small apartments in Paris, they work, they don’t have time to walk their dogs. We respond to those needs,” Devi said.
Devi and Stan also have an advantage over hoteliers who have to worry about human guests trashing rooms and stealing bathrobes — they evaluate their canine clients before their first stay, to weed out aggressive behavior.
“The concept is human, but it’s completely adapted to a dog’s needs,” said Devi.