There is no question that Alexandria loves dogs. There’s no shortage of options for dog daycare, boarding, grooming, parks and even a dog bar! It’s time for dogs to move over, because there’s a new cat in town – or a cat hotel and spa, rather.
The Happy Cat Hotel and Spa, which describes itself as a full service cat care experience, is opening its first franchise location in Alexandria at 2391 S. Dove St.
The Happy Cat Hotel and Spa was started in Connecticut by Chris and Meg Raimo and now has two corporate locations in Windsor and East Granby, Connecticut. Leanne McRoberts and Jackie Warbis are excited to be the owners of The Happy Cat Hotel and Spa’s first franchise location.
Both McRoberts and Warbis have spent decades working in various aspects of the pet industry, but knew they wanted to do something different. They first considered opening a dog boarding business but quickly realized that the space and energy required wasn’t the right fit for them.
“Being in the pet industry we get a lot of pet publications, and a couple years back my mom was staying with us and she was reading through this pet magazine we had and there was a whole article in there about Chris and Meg and The Happy Cat Hotel and she was like, ‘This is so cool, this is exactly what you guys are talking about!’ and right at the end of the article it talked about the fact that they were looking to franchise their business,” McRoberts explained.
McRoberts and Warbis reached out to the Raimos to find out more and after some timing issues, they finally decided to move forward in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country full force. The pandemic led to some delays in the process but they said they always felt incredibly supported by the Raimoses.
“It took us a long time to find a place. Landlords weren’t real willing, nobody wanted to rent, everybody was nervous,” said Warbis. After months of searching, they found the ideal spot on Dove Street which was formerly occupied by holistic pet food store, PetSage, which closed in 2020.
“It was perfect. Every time you turned another corner in here there was a cat plate on the light switch, there were cat pictures…” said McRoberts explained. “It was a sign!” Warbis interjected with a laugh. “Our landlord here has cats, has had cats, understood it and got the concept immediately…. He even has family in Connecticut and he went to The Happy Cat in Connecticut to look at it to see what it was going to be,” said Warbis.
The Happy Cat Hotel is a cat only, cage-free environment that offers individual luxury rooms with glass doors and windows that look into the adjacent rooms. Each room has a vacation destination theme like “Waikikitty” and “Weekend in Purris” with plenty of comfy beds and climbing shelves. Each cat has their own room and cats from the same family can stay together. Cats will also have the opportunity to wander the halls and lobby individually and receive brushing, play, affection and other enrichment activities throughout the day.
In addition to the hotel, there is also a cat grooming spa which offers a more relaxed atmosphere for cats than traditional grooming spots that often groom both cats and dogs. Warbis has received extensive training and is a certified Feline Master Groomer through the National Cat Grooming Institute, one of only a few people with that designation in Virginia.
McRoberts and Warbis, who live in Springfield, are excited to be opening in Alexandria. The hotel is conveniently located near National Airport and is perfect for travelers and military or government employees who are relocating. “We are really excited to be part of the community. I lived and worked in Old Town Alexandria for 11 years prior to getting into the pet industry and it was always such a pet friendly place, and very supportive community. We are thrilled to manage to find this space in the perfect community we know is animal friendly,” said McRoberts.
The love that McRoberts and Warbis have for cats is evident, especially when they talk about their own cat, J.R. Penny, an orange tabby cat. They hope that the Alexandria location of The Happy Cat Hotel is only their first, and if all goes well, they plan to open a second location closer to Dulles in the next three years.
Attend the grand opening of The Happy Cat Hotel and Spa on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and find out more at their website, https://happycathotel.com/alexandria/.