With a Sarasota address but in Manatee County, the Bayside Pet Resort and Spa is sure to attract customers from both counties when it opens next month at 8154 N. Tamiami Trail, just north of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The owner, 65-year-old Robert Huff, a lifetime entrepreneur originally from Dayton, Ohio, just sold his businesses up north to his children.
“I just couldn’t retire,” Huff said. “And then one morning, I woke up at 3 a.m. with this idea: to combine my love of animals and my love of being an entrepreneur into a state-of-th- art, luxury pet resort and spa that is like nothing else in the region.”
That idea became a reality with the purchase of the former Rip Van Winkle bowling alley building. A complete renovation kept only the previous four outer walls, and Huff accomplished a rezoning with help from the Manatee County Commissioners and planning staff. Huff credits the Manatee County Commission for helping get through the process quickly and seamlessly and supporting the business every step of the way.
“Pet owners are always very anxious when leaving their beloved animal,” Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said. “This facility will provide state-of-the-art technology to monitor our pets. The animal community wishes [Huff] well!”
Huff has over 30 years of progressive business experience in owning, developing and managing various health care organizations and general businesses. Before starting the Bayside Pet Resort and Spa, Huff performed extensive research into pet lodging and boarding facilities both locally and nationwide, and hired a top management team with more than 50 years of combined pet care and handling experience. He said pets have played a vital role in his life from an early age.
“When I was 11 years old my mother became a single parent, and we were forced to move many times as a result of economic necessity. We had a cocker spaniel named Bucky who helped me through and was my best friend,” Huff said.
“After we moved unexpectedly one weekend, Bucky got lost. Our new home was across town and I had lost all hope of finding him. Then about one year after moving I was walking home from school, and across the street I saw this dog that looked just like Bucky. I had no idea that this dog, who was pretty worn out and ragged-looking, would be who I thought he was. I called his name and Bucky came running. I kept Bucky until I was drafted into the service and gave him to my stepbrother. I never forgot that event in my life and have had several pets since that time. Bucky helped to teach me perseverance and dedication which I have carried throughout my life. This new venture is dedicated to what pet family members can do to influence your life.”
With a grand opening scheduled for June 2012, the Bayside Pet Resort and Spa will be a luxury pet resort offering affordable five-star amenities to canine and feline guests with top-notch accommodations, supervised doggie daycare and a wide array of grooming services. The staff will provide opportunities for recreation and socialization, and pets will be pampered in beautiful one and two-bedroom suites, some with plasma TV screens and web cams for owners to keep an eye on their pets from a distance via their computer or smartphone.
The resort will host a variety of events leading up to the grand opening in June, and Huff plans to hire between 20 and 25 part and full-time employees over the next month.
- The Bayside Pet Resort and Spa is located at 8154 N. Tamiami Trail, and will offer state of the art and luxurious lodging and amenities for canine and feline clients, as well as doggie daycare facilities. For more information please go to www.baysidepetresort.com.