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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A new resort opens today at Disney World in Florida.
A place for fun for four-legged guests. It’s the newest entry into the $40 billion pet industry, as reporter Katie Ball explains.
KATIE BALL: So you and your family decide to head to Disney World, but what to do with Fido? Well, for $37 a night you can put him up at the “Best Friends Pet Resort.” A standard suite — they’re not called kennels here — comes with a raised dog bed, a flat-screen TV, and an outdoor porch.
Manager Deb Bennetts shows off one of the suites currently occupied by a very large Swiss Mountain Dog.
DEB BENNETTS: It’s really not surprising when people view their pet as a family member that they want to have services and amenities that perhaps are even comparable to what you might find for children at camp.
And a la carte fees aren’t just for airlines anymore. How about $5 for bottled water, $8 for 10 minutes of cuddling and $6 for, um, a bed-time story.
BENNETTS: Really, for the dog, what it’s about is that time where they can snuggle against you, hear you voice very calm, very measured, and it helps them relax so that they can settle down and go to sleep.
Don’t worry cat lovers, “Best Friends Pet Resort” offers what it calls “Kitty City.” Fluffy has his choice between two and four-story cat condos, and extras include tuna fish on Ritz crackers.
But in the middle of a recession, how much demand is there for a fancy kennel? Bob Vatere is president of the American Pet Products Association. He says the economic downturn has pushed many consumers to discount pet products. But at the same time, Vatere says there continues to be steady growth in high-end pet amenities.
BOB VATERE: So you’re seeing movement to both ends and the high end is doing quite well for itself.
Case in point, weekend VIP packages at Best Friends Pet Resort are all sold out between now and the end of December.
In Lake Buena Vista, Fla., I’m Katie Ball for Marketplace.
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