By Wendy Wollenberg
What happens when an entertaining guru joins forces with a celebrity chef, both of whom happen to be dog lovers?
An over-the-top experience for pampered pets and their equally well-groomed guardians. Lara Shriftman, co-founder of the high-profile public relations, marketing, and events agency Harrison & Shriftman, and Ingrid Hoffman, superstar chef and host of Simply Delicioso on the Food Network, blended their unique skill sets to create the Lulu Flynn Dog Program at the ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Miami Beach. Lulu Flynn is Shriftman’s Shih Tzu, who inspired The Ultimate Dog Party, Shriftman’s book on throwing the perfect canine soiree. She has also authored four additional entertaining tomes, Fete Accompli, Fete Accompli Workbook, Party Confidential, and Party Confidential: New Etiquette for Fabulous Entertaining.
This is no standard “yes, we allow pets” policy. The Lulu Flynn Dog Program at the ONE Bal Harbour goes above and beyond to make a pet’s stay just as luxurious (if not more so) than his/her companion’s. The chic oceanfront resort and spa offers furry friends the VIP treatment, starting at check-in. Each pet is given a keepsake collar with nametag, along with a welcome letter, and a special pet brochure that gives them all of the pertinent information for their stay, including dog walking routes, parks, pet attractions, and commendable local veterinarians. A dedicated “Pawcierge” is on hand to arrange canine-centric excursions, acquire a birthday cake, or even organize a doggie wedding. The Lulu Flynn Dog Program also features a plush pet bed (with turn-down service!), a placemat with water and food bowls, special treats, and bottled water. However, the highlight by far is a gourmet pet menu with organic dishes and recipes created by Hoffman.
The program also has a charitable component, an aspect that was important to Shriftman. Hotel guests can add a donation to their room charge that will benefit Share-A-Pet, a Florida-based national non-profit organization that brings pet-assisted therapy to children’s centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and cancer treatment facilities. Shriftman is also teaming up with LA-based designer Kimberly Ovitz to host a star-studded Beverly Hills event for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), taking place this month.
TAILS spoke with Shriftman about her partnership with Hoffman, her lifestyle and entertaining tips, and, of course, her glamorous life with Lulu Flynn.
TAILS: How did the Lulu Flynn Pet Program with the ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa come about?
Lara Shriftman: I developed the idea for the Lulu Flynn Pet Program at ONE Bal Harbour as a way to further distinguish it from other pet-friendly hotels. ONE Bal Harbour is a longstanding client of mine. When Lulu Flynn was planning the launch of her book, The Ultimate Dog Party, I couldn’t think of a better place to have her book party than in Miami at the ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa. This led to the idea for a one-of-a-kind pet program for the hotel. Lulu ended up hosting an incredible dog party there to celebrate both the launch of her book and of her pet program.
How did Ingrid Hoffman get involved?
Ingrid is a good friend, so I asked her to come up with a recipe for the dog program. It was a natural fit as she lives in Miami, loves dogs, and is an unbelievable Latin chef.
Do you see this type of hotel program becoming a trend we’ll find at other venues?
Yes, absolutely. Harrison & Shriftman represents a lot of hotels, and many of them are asking us to create similar pet programs. Hotels are realizing that people consider their pets as part of their family, and they do not like to leave their pets behind when they travel.
You have offices in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Do you travel with Lulu?
I take Lulu Flynn with me everywhere I go, even when I travel!
Do you or Ingrid cook for your dogs at home?
Yes, we both do!
Is it important to you that Lulu Flynn eat organic/healthy foods?
It is very important to me that Lulu Flynn eats the best quality food I can give her. Lulu just celebrated her sixth birthday this past July, and I want to be sure she stays healthy as she gets older. However, she does enjoy her treats from Nobu and Mr. Chow!
Can you tell us about The Ultimate Dog Party? What types of tips are offered in the book?
Lulu’s book, The Ultimate Dog Party, is all about how to host the perfect canine soiree. Some of the tips offered by the book include suggestions on choosing the perfect dog-friendly venue, creating invitations, designing menus, decorating, finding clever gift bag items, and so much more!
How did Lulu become a celebrity? Is that a statement on our culture’s love of pets?
Lulu was born a celebrity, as she was given to me by Kelly Rowland and Serena Williams. When Lulu Flynn was a puppy, I was shooting a lot of television, so she grew up posing for the camera and was always on the show with me. She is a very healing dog and people naturally gravitate to her. Men, women, children, and other dogs constantly stop me when I am with her!
How important was it to you that the Pet Program have a charity aspect? How did the partnership with Share-A-Pet come about?
I felt it was very important. I wanted to find something local and meaningful, and I really resonated with the work of the Share-A-Pet organization.
Can you tell us about your upcoming event with the ASPCA?
Kimberly Ovitz, a renowned American fashion designer and dog lover, is hosting an exclusive event to benefit the ASPCA in October. The private party will take place at the home of her father, entertainment industry executive Michael Ovtiz, in Los Angeles.
1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey or buffalo meat
1 cup uncooked Basmati rice
2-1/2 cups of water
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ cup frozen chopped broccoli or blanched fresh broccoli
1/2 cup chopped carrots, blanched
Mix meat, rice, water, and ginger together in a large saucepan or soup pot. Bring to a boil, stir thoroughly, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 20 to 25 minutes, until rice is done.
Stir in vegetables and cook an additional five minutes.
*If making multiple batches, be sure to cool the pot in an ice bath to prevent spoilage before storing.