A DOG lover who retired to Thailand has spent five years building a successful pet hotel which now attracts customers from across the country.
John Ambler (63) has cared for thousands of dogs at the Doggez Hotel in Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border, since he founded the business in 2015.
John, who grew up on the Blackburn estate in Rotherham, had a successful career in construction, which eventually led to him emigrating to New Zealand in 2004.
He had a role supervising piling and foundations for a large firm before moving to Darwin, Australia, where he managed multi-million pound contracts, and met his wife Ja.
John retired six years ago, at the age of 57, and decided to move to Ja’s hometown, Hat Yai, in Thailand.
But, as retirement didn’t suit John, he looked for a new project.
“I settled on something close to my heart that has always been a real passion of mine since I was a nipper — dogs,” he said.
“I built and opened a dog hotel, exclusively for dogs who needed a vacation just like their owners.”
John said he had been inspired to set up a dog hotel when he left his beagle, Milo, in a local dog kennel to go to the US with his wife for Christmas.
“Two weeks passed and when we picked him up he was dishevelled, full of ticks and looking very depressed,” he said.
“That’s what gave me the idea and my ambition to do better than everyone else.”
John (pictured with a guest) began building the hotel in 2015, investing about £22,000 into the project which, due to a good exchange rate, went a lot further in Thailand than it would in the UK.
The hotel housed 36 dogs and, due to its success, John has built an extension to accommodate another 36.
All of the rooms are air-conditioned with fans, large areas to roam and comfortable beds to sleep on.
The hotel has a swimming pool and a large garden where the dogs can play with each other.
John said: “I pride myself on making our fur babies enjoy their stay with me.
“A swim and playing in the gardens is a must for the dogs who come here.”
John, who employs six people, said the hotel had housed about 2,500 dogs which had come from across the country.
“It’s been open now for five years and we don’t advertise as word of mouth is far better,” he said.
“We have dogs coming from all over Thailand to stay here.
“We also take care of puppies from dog breeders who send them by air cargo to Hat Yai.
“I pick them up and they stay with us for a few days while we get the paperwork to transfer them to their owners in Malaysia.
“In this time we shower all the dogs, give them a good feed and let them play with other like-minded dogs.
“It’s so rewarding watching them play knowing we did our best for our fur babies.”
John’s passion for dogs doesn’t just stop at his hotel door either, as he has taken to feeding local street dogs in his spare time.
He said he looked after about 15 strays who would probably perish if he did not feed them.
“I never stop loving them,” he said.
“I make them rice, minced pork and sometimes shredded chicken, and they always know my truck when I go down their street.
“It’s like the Pied Piper — it’s so lovely.”