Doggie day spa opens in University Park

srocco@bradenton.comDecember 17, 2013 

UNIVERSITY PARK -- At the new Bayside Pet Spa, pups can get pampered with therapeutic mud baths, vanilla blueberry facials or even a little aromatherapy. Older dogs can get massages to ease achy bones. And here, nails can always be polished.

The doggie day spa at 8405 Honore Ave. will have its grand opening Wednesday. The business aims to provide luxury day care and spa services at affordable prices.

"The University Parkway area is very upscale and with the Benderson's development and the gigantic mall and some of the upscale stores that are being placed here, I think there's certainly a need for this type of pet spa," said owner Robert Huff.

Huff, 66, also owns the much larger Bayside Pet Resort and Spa at 8154 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, which focuses on overnight or long-term stays. After opening in June 2012, the Pet Resort became so successful that Huff decided to open a smaller second location that would provide day care and spa services.

The spa features a full menu of grooming services and a plethora of amenities. Dogs will get their own private pen with a cushy cot and chilled spring water. Staff will take them out for walks and let them loose in the outdoor play area. If that's not enough, dogs can take a spin on the treadmill or romp in a Paris-themed play zone complete with a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower.

"Even though it's a very nice facility, it's very affordable. We've done market analysis throughout the area," Huff said.

A full day of care starts at $25 including play time, water and treats. Spa baths start at $20 and a complete groom starts around $50.

"When owners are going to be gone all day long...they can drop off their dog. They get their potty time, their play time, we keep a close eye on them instead of keeping them in a crate all day long," said general manager and vet technician Marilee Namaka.

For longer stays, transportation to the Pet Resort

in Sarasota will be provided so University Park-area customers won't have to drive the extra miles.

The 2,500-square-foot spa is part of Huff's longtime dream of a career involving animals. After selling his home health care business two years ago, Huff wanted a change of pace.

"You think about the love that pets have for their owners. They really give back more than you could ever give them," he said. "They're man's best friend. I take that sort of literally. I just love what I'm doing."

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.

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