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NEW YORK (Reuters) - At New York's swanky Manhattan NYC hotel, an elite clientele mingled in the frosty air on a turf-lined terrace before retreating into a warm suite filled with fine food and doting handlers who saw to their every need.
This was the weekend before the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and some of the world's most valuable purebred canines were enjoying the royal treatment at one of three hotels that specialize in accommodating them before the big event.
"He loves coming to New York. I think he gets excited about being admired," said Lois Claus from Yamhill, Oregon, talking about her enormous Tibetan Mastiff, Stevie, who sprawled out on the carpeted floor. A tiny hairless dog dressed in a cheetah-print jumpsuit cowered behind her owner at the sight of him.
The canines, ranging from 100-pound Borzoi hounds to pint-sized Papillon spaniels, are competing in the prestigious two-day event that starts on Monday and draws nearly 3,000 competitors from around the globe.
Manhattan NYC, an Affinia hotel, and two other properties partner with Westminster to provide both canine and human participants with a place to stay and a lot more.
The hotels, including Hotel Pennsylvania and the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel, create lavish accommodation for the dogs that include canine room service, exercise areas and hot tub equipped spas for the show dogs. All three are near Madison Square Garden, where the show is staged.
"We try to give our guests - the four-legged ones and their owners - the ultimate pied-à-terre in New York City," said Claudia Del Greco, spokeswoman for Manhattan NYC, which will host 297 dogs this year.
In addition to the terrace "bathroom break" area and communal socializing suite, the hotel has a dog room-service menu that includes grilled steak.
At the Hotel Pennsylvania, dogs frequently dine at the hotel's restaurants.
"Cheeseburgers are very popular, but no onions because they're not good for the dogs," said Jerry Grymek, who has worked as the dog concierge for Hotel Pennsylvania for 14 years.
For the show, the hotel transformed its basement-level lobby into a dog day spa with 15 grooming tables and jacuzzi-style baths for dog soaking.
An increasing number of hotels have started marketing to Westminster attendees, said Grymek, who has seen the number of hotels that cater to the show dogs multiply from a few to about 30 over the past decade.
"It's great for the city. It's great for everybody." said Grymek.
The 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show concludes on Tuesday night with the awarding of the Best In Show dog winner.
Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Stephen Powell