Freshly back from vacation, a customer walks expectantly into the room. A golden retriever bounds clumsily up, its tongue flapping a rosy greeting and mouth stretched far back into a smile. When the dog’s owner takes up the leash, thanks the staff for caring for her energetic pup, and turns to leave, she feels a tug on the leash. Her dog has planted his feet firmly, trying to back into a sitting position—clearly, he wants them both to stay put.
According to proprietor Lisa Schettino, this is an everyday occurrence at Camp Canine. After a difficult experience finding pet care for her own dog, Lisa set out to create an environment that would not only keep critters safe, but make them want to stay. Now, each Camp Canine location has a resort-style atmosphere sprawled over 9,000–15,000 square feet.
Stressed four-legged friends wiggle with glee during massages, shedding stress from squeaky toys giving them the silent treatment. Against a bass rumble of purring, punctuated by canine yips, green-tea and chamomile facials drive dirt from wrinkled faces and soften wiry fur. As they wait for their next spa appointment, dogs can roam freely in a fenced-in play lot. After tearing through a maze of tunnels and obstacles, they splash into the pool and emerge to toss their cool, wet fur, bejeweling the air with spray. An air-conditioned indoor play area shelters pets from extreme heat and teenagers listening to vacuums at high volume..
Owners too can rest at ease during their pets’ vacation, knowing their animals lounge in private rooms with plush bedding and staff watching 24 hours a day. They check up on their furry friends via scheduled Skype sessions and various webcams set up throughout the Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale facilities. Those locations also pick up and drop off pets that haven’t yet learned how to operate a manual transmission.
Founded on the belief that dogs, like people, deserve a bit of pampering, Dee's Sanctuary Grooming and Spa aims to spoil canines with doting affection and care. A standard visit begins with a relaxing hydro-massage bathing ritual, relaxing muscles stressed from long walks and playdates with dematerializing Cheshire cats. Following all grooming rituals—which can include basics such as nail trims and combing or more involved skin and coat treatments—dogs are escorted to their own serene zen den outfitted with soft bedding, toys, water, and a comforting view of the entire spa interior.
Diane Dolphin, a 12-year veteran groomer and graduate of the elite Nash Academy, tends to haute couture grooming duties. Like all other dog stylists at Dee’s Sanctuary, she is happy to offer free consultations concerning potential fur makeovers and the latest in bandanna-tying fashions. The combination grooming spa and day-care center also sells toys, grooming supplies, and Good Dog bakery treats.
A chalkboard behind the dining room’s bar lists La Stella’s refined Italian dishes, creating a dining experience the Sun Sentinel called "sophisticated, but not pretentious." After honing her culinary talents in Providence, Rhode Island, owner and head chef Jamie Barlow relocated to Boca Raton, bringing along her passion for Italian cuisine. To secure traditional Mediterranean flavors, she relies on imported mozzarella and Italian tuna as well as house-made sausages. The freshness of her cuisine stems from the quality produce and marbled proteins she covertly hauls off the podium at the county fair's blue-ribbon ceremonies.
Clean, black lines on the walls contrast with the white dining room, which uses floor-to-ceiling windows to keep the space welcoming and airy throughout the day. At night, track lighting helps to keep the room as well-lit as a tanning bed full of hand mirrors, and swooping strings of bulbs illuminate the covered seating outside.
With rolling hills and lush, green woods in the background, expert instructors lead students out into the great blue Pacific for custom surfing lessons. During lessons, wave tamers certified in CPR, first aid, ocean safety, and mermaid diplomacy bestow burgeoning surfers with all necessary skills and ocean awareness, which helps surfers to keep their bearings and tackle whitecaps safely. Surf techniques and etiquette can be tailored to ease rookies into their comfort zones or amped up to challenge and heighten the skills of more experienced boarders.
Tamalpais Surf Club also rents boards and wetsuits for surfers looking to paddle out on their own, and their lending inventory includes vintage boards from renowned shapers. To throw more adventure into the mix, the team organizes yoga-surf retreats and surf camps in exotic locales such as Costa Rica and Hawaii, where groups can immerse themselves in the country's culture, cuisine, and bilingual waves.
Big Wave Dave Surf Co.'s staff of experienced wave riders hits the shores of Waikiki Beach for private and small-group lessons in surfing, standup paddleboarding, and outrigger canoeing. Each instructor's résumé boasts at least 10 years of teaching experience, an extensive knowledge of first aid, and at least one semester as Poseidon's college intern. During classes, first-time surfers learn the basics on land before heading into the warm waters to hang their first 10, whereas advanced riders barrel out into the waves atop fiberglass and epoxy boards. Outrigger canoes recall ancient Hawaiians' exploration of Oahu's colorful reefs, and standup paddleboards combine an intense workout with clear views of the pristine waters below. The shop also offers daily and long-term rentals of equipment, with complimentary delivery and pickup from local hotels.
The serenity of the Atlantic waters doesn’t end at the beachfront. A few blocks away stands Dermal~Care Esthetics & Wellness Centre, which parallels the soothing waves lapping against the shore with a holistic, tranquil environment. Headed by owner and licensed medical aesthetician Deborah McGarry, the aestheticians and massage therapists welcome clients with personalized and undivided attention, offering a chance to relax with a cup of organic herbal tea or gourmet coffee prior to treatment. The staff—which variously boasts education at the Florida Health Academy and authority as an oncology-certified aesthetician—administers each treatment at a leisurely pace, and ensures that it is as personalized as someone with a birthmark in the shape of their own logo.