This doggie hotel is fit for the best in show.
The Cay 9 Resort & Spa, helmed by Prentice Panton and Martin and Claudia Pilat, opened late in December and aims to offer Grand Cayman’s first boutique dog-boarding experience.
The Pilats have experience in the restaurant and hospitality industries, and they hope to offer a high-end boarding service akin to a five-star doggie hotel. There are no cages at the Cay 9 Resort & Spa, and each dog room is fronted by a glass wall and features a camera that allows owners to peek in.
“We love dogs and this is how we show it,” said Mrs. Pilat, who previously worked at The Ritz-Carlton. “We want to treat them super nice. They’re not just here. There’s always an activity for them. We know their names. We want to give The Ritz-Carlton service but at a very affordable price.”
The facility, located right behind the Foster’s IGA near the airport, boasts grooming and training services on the same premises as the first dog-only swimming pool on the island. The Pilats visited several dog boarding facilities in the United States that informed the things they’d prioritize here.
The outdoor yard, for instance, features 2,000 square feet of artificial grass and a drainage system that allows the dogs to relieve themselves wherever they want. The artificial grass surface is cleaned on a daily basis, and the yard is encircled by a six-foot fence that is reinforced by wood and concrete.
“It’s like Alcatraz,” said Mr. Pilat of the fenced-in yard. “If you bring your dog here, it cannot come home dirty. We don’t have any dirt here. It’s only artificial grass and tiles. Even if it rains, it cannot get dirty.”
This week, the Cay 9 Resort & Spa is playing host to a special guest from the Cayman Islands Humane Society. Leah, a 2-year-old dog that recently had 12 puppies, has her pampered run of the resort during the day and sleeps in the building’s Presidential Suite at night.
The Pilats have adopted three dogs from the Humane Society during their time in Cayman and they hope they can help the charity by fostering one dog a week and aiding in the adoption process.
“The first dog that enjoyed the facilities at Cay 9 Resort & Spa was Rodney, a very relaxed, easy going dog who loved being there,” said Saskia Salden of the Humane Society. “This week Leah is the lucky dog. She recently had 12 puppies, so definitely could use a nice break and some pampering.”
That pampering is having the desired effect. A Cayman Compass reporter visited the spa on Tuesday and found Leah frolicking in the pool and running around the expanse of the fenced-in yard.
All dogs must undergo a behavioral assessment before staying at the Cay 9 Resort & Spa, and Mr. Pilat said that his trainer, Richard Opis, previously worked as a trainer for military dogs in the Philippines.
The operating procedures of the spa are still being worked out, but Mr. Pilat said they keep the dogs segregated by size. Small dogs are in one room and big dogs are in another, and when one group of dogs uses the yard, the other group of dogs is left to play in their indoor playroom.
“Dogs don’t have lawyers. They argue with their teeth,” Mr. Pilat said. “We don’t want to have a crocodile and a horse running around. But for grooming, you can bring the crocodile and the horse too.”
Each dog room has a Kuranda bed – dubbed “the Ferrari of dog beds” by Mr. Pilat, and he’s aiming to set up a system in which dog owners can Facetime with their pets. Pet owners can already check in on their pets via several on-site cameras at the company’s website, and they can also enter all their inoculation histories and make reservations online as easily as they could purchase an item on EcayTrade.
Everybody pitches in at the pet resort. Mrs. Pilat works the front desk, and Mr. Pilat, who recently worked as the sommelier at the West Indies Wine Company, has been logging extra-long hours as the night shift manager, tending to the dogs and making sure they are OK late at night.
“He’s literally in the dog house,” Mr. Panton said.
Mr. Panton, the proprietor of Liquor for Less, owns the real estate that the pet resort is settled on, and the facility previously served as a warehouse. It underwent a face-lift in order to house more than 30 dogs at a time, and Mr. Panton joked about the initial idea for building a doggie pool.
“When I was installing it,” he said, “my wife said, ‘You’re building a pool for dogs but not for us?’”
For more information, visit www.cay9resort.com.