Lap of Luxury

A new breed of pet resorts turns boarding into a true holiday for our non-human friends

By Kate Edwards

Four-legged guests of The Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa enjoy over 12,000 square feet of play space, complete with misting systems and cabana shading.


odern humans love their pets. Unfortunately, however, beloved cats, dogs, birds, pigs, chickens — you name it —simply can’t join their two-legged caretakers everywhere. Luckily, in Ventura County, pet caretaking has been elevated to an art form. “Pet resorts” meet the high standards of today’s pet parents, offering a wide variety of amenities, activities and accommodations. More luxury vacation than kennel stay, these options allow Fido and Fluffy to come home tired and happy — or more blissed-out than stressed-out.

Ventura Highway Luxury Boarding for Dogs

Sixteen years ago, Mindy and David Benezra dreamed of creating an alternative to the standard “shelter-style” boarding of the time. As Mindy puts it now, “In 2000, there was no such thing as cage-free boarding.” They wanted to offer dogs more freedom to play and interact, so they took over their family farm on upper Ventura Avenue, cleaned out an old barn, built some pens and open yards and started Ventura Highway Luxury Boarding for Dogs.

Today, their facility provides day care during the week as well as boarding seven days a week. (The facility is closed to drop-offs and pick-ups on Saturdays.) Amenities include individual covered sleeping pens and 10 separate yards that allow the resort’s dog-loving staff to group the dogs according to size and temperament for hours of daily play. There are five large enclosures for bigger dogs and five small yards for littler, older and/or less sociable dogs. Some boarders even get to hang out in the office during the day and keep tabs on the staff. Finally, there are indoor accommodations for smaller or geriatric guests.

Regarding other amenities, Mindy calls the resort “a camp for dogs,” and notes that, “Like kids at camp, the dogs get dirty,” so they offer bathing and nail clipping (but not haircuts) so your pup comes home clean and smelling great.

Kittyland Resort

With 20-plus years of pet-sitting under her belt, Carri Kruseman knows that cats and dogs don’t mix well, but also that cats and other cats can be a volatile combination. Due to her experience, she thought Ventura could use a boarding facility that catered exclusively to felines. Eight years ago, she opened Kittyland Resort with just a few “kitty condos,” or purpose-built multilevel units featuring lounging spaces, private sleeping cubbies and a separate litter box area. The resort now boasts 32 such units, and each can hold up to four cats from a single household. This allows for a safe and comfortable boarding experience separate from unfamiliar cats. As Kruseman says, “Most of my clients come to me because they like that the cats don’t interact.”

For the more social or adventurous, Kittyland has a custom-built playroom with towers to climb and perch upon, a television showing cat videos and an 80-gallon fish tank for the cats’ endless viewing pleasure. And, as cats are susceptible to upper respiratory infections, the facility also has an air purification system and a staff focused upon maintaining a clean and healthy environment for their boarders. But mostly, Kittyland Resort boasts Kruseman herself. Saying that she is “so lucky to be able to say that I do what I do!” Kruseman is committed to creating a happy boarding experience for her feline clients.

All Dogs Rule!

Fillmore-based All Dogs Rule! sits among 2,000 Valencia orange trees and challenges dog owners with the tagline “Whose vacation is better?” Run by Russ Avison, a dog trainer with 20 years’ experience, and Karen Moureaux, a longtime breeder of champion border collies, the resort, which is also a working citrus orchard, is a doggie dude ranch. It features seven different grassy and tree-shaded “dog parks” — including a large agility yard — and cage-free accommodations in a barn with repurposed horse stalls that boast unfettered access to 20-by-30-foot open yards. Avison states, “We keep the dogs in groups of two, three or four depending upon temperament,” and they have set up the facility so dogs can “run and play and not have to be in pens in cages.” There are, however, also individual enclosures for those dogs that are confirmed escape artists or, as Avison says, “don’t play well with others.”

Those dogs that do interact well can hang out in one of the yards and spend the day playing and napping under the trees and even cooling off in a kiddie pool on hot days. For a fee, dogs can also get some one-on-one training or have a play session chasing a Frisbee or ball. The resort also accepts a wide variety of boarders, and Avison says they have tended to everything from rabbits and guinea pigs to a pot-bellied pig named Susie who would sit on command.

While the resort is open seven days a week for pet pick-up/drop-off — excepting a few major holidays — All Dogs Rule! will also pickup and return boarders to/from a series of locations in the Conejo Valley, the Petco in Moorpark or even a client’s home. Fees for their transportation services vary by location and number of dogs involved, but this amenity could prove to be very useful during the hectic holiday season.

The Barkely® Pet Hotel & Day Spa

Some pets prefer dramatic luxury over dude ranch. For them, there is The Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa in Westlake Village. This tony resort is a 50,000-square-foot “pet care campus” that includes luxurious boarding facilities, a day camp, a spa with an extensive list of available services and products, as well as The Barkley Academy, an onsite dog training facility. There is also Barkley Beach, the resort’s pool, where Fido can have private swim lessons or host a birthday pool party and invite all his friends. And for the greatest peace of mind, the resort shares its lobby with the state-of-the-art VCA Westlake Village Animal Hospital right next door. This allows for the total care, no matter what, of all the resort’s guests. Whether they be dogs, cats, birds or exotic animals (Marketing Director Christiane Harris notes, “We once had a pet chicken stay with us!”), all are welcome at The Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa.

While space prohibits a complete listing of all the resort’s activities, accommodations and services here, it should be noted that all canine clients get three walks a day, continuous fresh water, breakfast/dinner service, comfortable bedding, maid/linen service, 24-hour supervision (owners can check in on pets via webcam) and soothing music and television. And while there are differing levels of accommodations to choose from, all are indoors and climate-controlled. And Harris notes, “If they are lucky enough to stay in our most luxurious ‘Rodeo Drive’ suites,” where holiday rates peak at $90 per night, the pampered pups enjoy “a nightly tuck-in service which includes a bedtime story, belly rub and biscuit.”

A dog could get used to that kind of treatment.

Ventura Highway Luxury Boarding for Dogs
805.643.DOGS (3647)
4692 Ventura Avenue, Ventura

Kittyland Resort
3885 Transport Street, Ventura

All Dogs Rule!
2492 Grand Avenue, Fillmore

The Barkely® Pet Hotel & Day Spa
818.889.BARK (2275)
31166 Via Colinas, Westlake Village


A content ginger tabby lounges on one of the plush, custom-made towers designed for feline comfort at Kittyland. Photo by T Christian Gapen

Symon Bender snuggles Xena the Warrior Princess at Ventura Highway Luxury Boarding for Dogs, an early pioneer in resort-style pet boarding facilities.

Exceptional amenities aside, one of the best things offered at Kittyland is the love, care and experience provided by owner Carri Kruseman. Photo by T Christian Gapen

Fresh air, wide open skies, Valencia orange trees and 20 acres of freedom — it doesn’t get much better for active dogs than the ranch experience offered at All Dogs Rule!


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