Yorkshire hotel's purr-fectly pampered pets to star on US TV
A LUXURY hotel for cats in West Yorkshire is poised for international stardom after being selected by American producers as the setting for a new reality television series.
The Ings Luxury Cat Hotel at Thornhill, Dewsbury, has already fired the imagination of the world’s media since opening its doors in December 2013 and, given the popularity of cat videos on youtube, Facebook and Twitter, the new fly-on-the-wall documentary could raise its profile to unprecedented levels.
Proprietors Jo and Phil Ounsley are at an advanced stage of negotiations with TV executives from California who have been deeply impressed by the quality and success of the hotel, which offers a level of hospitality most human hotel guests can only dream of.
Feline residents at The Ings can expect to be pampered in five-star luxury with an la carte menu served on fine bone china, four-poster beds, underfloor heating, spa treatments, massages, flat-screen TVs, flameless candles, and high-end furnishings.
The menu includes line-caught sea bass fried in organic butter, seafood medley, hearty liver stew, and savoury prawn, lamb and chicken skewers, washed down with wheat-germ smoothies or lactose-free milk.
“It’s a real compliment that the Americans have approached us because they feel our hotel is the best in the world,” said mother-of-two Jo. “Americans demand the best of everything, especially service and care, and that’s what we endeavour to provide for all our guests.
“We’re not sure when the show will be broadcast but they’re hoping to start filming later this year. It’s going to be brilliant.”
Jo, who describes herself as a “crazy cat lady”, was inspired to open The Ings after struggling to find a cattery where she could go on holiday and leave her own cat behind with peace of mind.
The hotel is booked solid for the whole of 2016 with cat owners travelling from across the country to leave their pets in the Ounsley family’s care.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of owners booking their holidays around when we can accommodate their cat,” added Jo. “People come to us because they love the care we give them as a family.
“We recently had a ballerina from Paris contact us to book her cat in after she’d seen an item about us on French TV. Imagine that, leaving Paris behind for Thornhill! She had to cancel in the end because her diary changed but it was very flattering.”
Personal touches at The Ings include sending photos, videos and daily updates of ‘guests’ on social media to holidaying owners, and special activities organised by the youngest members of the Ounsley family, Jodie and Jack.
“Jodie loves to read bedtime stories to the cats while Jack likes the fun activities, like ‘Catterday Night Disco’ which is always well received by the cats,” added Jo.
“All cats are different: some prefer our relaxing spa breaks and others can’t get enough of the ultimate activity holiday in our Lodge, which has the UK’s first cartwheel treadmill. It’s amazing to see them.”
The Ings is set in six acres of open countryside and though the land provides plenty of scope for expansion, the Ounsleys are wary of growing too quickly.
“We have thought about it because there’s nothing worse than turning people away because we’re full, but the time is not right,” added Jo.
“We’ve also been approached by people from around the world to franchise what we do and set up a chain of boutique spa hotels.
“It’s a great idea but the reason we are so successful isn’t just about facilities: time, love and care are the most important things we offer, and you can’t provide the personal touch if you’re not there.”