A $65 Million Bet on Pampered Pet Travel
By Si Si Penaloza
New York’s largest and most iconic airport is building an entire terminal for globe-trotting pet owners. John F. Kennedy International Airport recently announced The ARK, a $48 million luxury terminal opening early next year—exclusively for animals. The ARK offers luxurious amenities: climate-controlled stalls for horses, and, for dogs, a bone-shaped splashing pool and a spa that gives “pawdicures.” All animals will have access to a 24-hour clinic run by Cornell University veterinary hospital.
In the age of six figure Instagram star pets, pet travel is a booming business. Seventy thousand animals travel through JFK annually, and they currently land in VetPort, a utilitarian 10,000-square-foot kennel built in the Eisenhower era. With pet spending on the rise— a 73% increase between 2002 and 2012—the travel industry is naturally targeting animal lovers with expendable cash.
San Francisco architecture firm Gensler (the much touted firm behind Shanghai Tower and Facebook’s impressive HQ) will revamp a 178,000-square-foot former cargo terminal into posh overnight pet boarding facilities, as well as import and export holding areas for animals like horses, who need to be quarantined for three days upon arrival.
This is the same clientele that splurges on new first-class cat and canine cabins aboard American Airlines, and frequent flier miles for furry friends on Virgin Australia and JetBlue. A luxurious stay at The ARK equals social media bragging rights for pet parents. Overnight accommodations, particularly in the dog and cat resort, are predicted to reach $100 a night.
The swankiest part of the ARK isn’t finished yet. The ARK will also feature a 20,000-square-foot dog and cat resort run by Chicago’s popular Paradise 4 Paws.
The resort will include a bone-shaped splash pool, climbing trees in a feline-focused Cat Adventure Jungle, massage therapy and paw pedicures. For longer pet stays, there will be doggie “suites”: rooms with human-size beds, plasma screens for pets to FaceTime with their owners, art, and a “nightly tuck-in service.” A client could say, ‘I want my golden poo swimming twice a day, massaged once a day, running on the treadmill, let outside twice a day, and served a steak dinner.’ All this is possible at the resort part of The ARK.
Photo: Paradise 4 Paws
So what’s in store for 21st Century animal travel? Think aviary with a penguin pavilion. 48 horse stalls brimming with fresh hay. Climate-controlled cattle pens for up to 180 bovines!