The Province

Friday, September 29, 2006
Original pooch place meets barking demand
East Van: Doggie hotel and spa will make Rex feel at home with Oprah on the tube
By: John Colebourn
Barrie Balshaw is about to give dogs a whole new leash on life.
By December, Balshaw and his wife, Karen, expect to open a first-of-its kind hotel for hounds at the old Canada Packers plant on Terminal Avenue in Vancouver’s East end. They plan on calling the place the Rex Dog Hotel & Spa. With $1-million renovations in full swing, the ambitious project will be the ultimate destination for dogs. The hotel and spa are designed to accommodate all the needs of a pooch away from the family home overnight.

“I’ve always wanted to have a hotel for dogs,” Balshaw said yesterday, while showing off his plans for the 10,000 square foot pad. As owners of the Doghouse, a daycare for dogs with two locations in Vancouver, the couple has been looking for years for a facility to transform into a pooch palace.

With wait lists at both daycare locations, Balshaw said his clients are always looking for an overnight place for their dogs. He sees the hotel being used by people who stay in Vancouver and want their dog close by.
An overnight stay will probably cost about $60, he said. “I know the hotels downtown are excited,” said Balshaw. “There’s a huge movie industry that’s dying for something like this.” Vancouver based SmartDesign Group has been working on the design and construction of the hotel.

Balshaw said he started researching the idea of a hotel for dogs 10 years ago and found none existed –not even in Beverly Hills.

The Rex will feature a computerized, outdoor water park with a machine to throw water balls for the dogs. Televisions will be installed throughout the building because many dogs love watching Judge Judy and Oprah, Balshaw said. Satellite radio piped in and set to play classical music, which has calming effect on dogs.

The facility will be able to accommodate about 50 pooches a night. Large and small dogs will be separated. Around back, there’s a greenbelt and the dogs can be walked all the way to Science World.

Owners can bring food or the hotel will do the catering. A vet will be on call 24-hours a day. “It’s going to be totally deluxe,” said Balshaw. “We want it to look chic and new and nice. It’s going to be a fun place for the dogs and the staff.” Picture: Barrie Balshaw, Guinness (top) and Daisy survey the future site of the Rex Dog Hotel & Spa on Vancouver’s Terminal Avenue yesterday. The Rex, slated for completion in November, will be a deluxe dogs-only Hotel. Arlen Redekop–The Province