a private beach, suites with television, bed, sofa, room service and an outdoor space with distinct areas for outdoor walks. We could be talking about another accommodation in the Algarve (and in fact we are), but this one was created with dogs in mind.
The Hotel do Cão, located in Quinta Vale da Rainha, in Portimão, was born 10 years ago, but very different from what it is today. It all started when Miguel Maia Costa, entrepreneur and founder of a gardening company, saw his business being affected by the crisis.
«It was a very successful company that worked until 2011, but with the economic crisis we were forced to close. My passion for nature and animals led me to create an equestrian center, then a space for breeding German Shepherd dogs», all in the place where a local accommodation space started to function, which still remains today.
Alone, Miguel took care of four dog boxes, which functioned as maternity hospitals, built in wood, and which gave the animals «every comfort condition».
From four boxes, they went to eight, with the aim of creating a Hotel for dogs, and that's when the idea of releasing a video in which the canids were the main characters came up.
«In the video, it was the dogs that presented the space and, at the time, it was not normal to humanize the dogs. The video went viral and in less than 24 hours it reached over 200 views. The next day, I received dozens of calls. Demand grew more and more and so did our services», tells Miguel Maia Costa to Sul Informação.
Today, the hotel has 150 boxes, a private beach, delimited green areas, a veterinarian's office, a transport service and a spa, but whoever enters there has no idea that so many animals spend the night here – since the noise is non-existent.
“The pits are their homes for as long as they're here, and then there's the fun and the ride that our keepers do for 20 to 30 minutes. What we did was to create a concept with personalized boxes made with everything in mind: the dogs don't see each other, so they don't feel threatened, the boxes are well insulated so there is no noise and very comfortable», says the official.
And if, for the dogs and the owners, this is a luxury stay, for the keepers it is a “dream job”. Who says it is Olie, one of the employees of the Hotel do Cão.
On the day we visited the space, a new guest had just arrived, shy and fearful, but Olie immediately took care of making him feel at home and, in a few minutes, the dog was already playing and running in the garden.
But if there are dogs that are encouraged to run, others, according to their age and size, may just need to be walked. «Everyone is stimulated according to their characteristics», explains Miguel Costa.
At Hotel do Cão, the days are marked by the entry of several animals, but never without going through a long investigation during the check in. According to the official, this is the «most important moment» because it is here that the receptionist has to «absorb everything».
“We immediately took the profile of the dog. The way he relates to the owner or the way he interacts with other dogs, and then we try to get as many indications from the owner as possible: what and when he eats, what diseases he has had, allergies. This is all recorded in our system, because only then can we repeat the dog's routines, so that he really feels at home», he continues.
Here, there are no delays and no room for confusion, as, in the pantry, meals are immediately prepared with the food of each dog and divided by day. And if, by chance, any of the pups need hospital help, the veterinary nurse on duty is always on the lookout.
To carry out this daily work, there is a fixed team of about 20 people, but Miguel explains that, throughout the year, it is necessary to hire reinforcements, taking into account the peak seasons.
«At Hotel do Cão there is a seasonality, although it is not as marked as that of tourism, it also exists», says Miguel, adding that the two strongest months are December and January ("when people go out for Christmas and come here to leave the animals”). «Then there are still peaks in school holidays, holidays, and, of course, in the summer».
At that time, the bigeyes also arrive, recommended by the hotels with which the space has a partnership. At Hotel do Cão, a daily rate starts at 19 euros, but the price drops every two weeks.
Every year, hundreds of guests pass through the Hotel, some are almost residents and Miguel says that, on leaving, what makes him most happy is hearing the owners say that «the dogs don't want to leave».
Despite having been bred with dogs in mind, cats are also welcome at this hotel, where pets “with all the characteristics” and “in any circumstances” enter.
“We've had dogs come here when the owners get sick or when there are divorces and it's not decided who the animal stays with. What distinguishes us is also this concerned and permanent service», concludes Miguel Maia Costa.
Photos: Mariana Sedge | Sul Informação