Old hotel transforming itself into a boutique inn - East Valley Tribune: Business

Old hotel transforming itself into a boutique inn

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Posted: Friday, December 15, 2006 4:49 am | Updated: 5:04 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The guest rooms feature luxury bedding and iPod-ready clock radios, the poolside tables sport bright orange umbrellas, and the gourmet eatery opens Monday.

Besides those items and the vintage-style sign out front, you might not notice that the Fairfield Inn in downtown Scottsdale is being transformed into Hotel Scottsdale, the city’s latest boutique property aimed at attracting trendy travelers.

Local land developer, capital investment guru and fi nancial expert Caesar Perez bought the unremarkable 218-room, limited-service property for $6 million in May as an investment because of its choice location. But Perez said he became intrigued with the idea of doing a major makeover on the place and keeping it as an asset in his portfolio.

“I purchased it for the land value but decided the market share the hotel could attain was substantial,” he said.

So Perez is investing another $6 million to turn it into a Mexican-fl avored boutique hotel.

The makeover plans include sprucing up the bland exterior shell with ornate Spanish architecture; adding lush, tropical landscaping; and shrinking the number of guest rooms to 178 to make room for luxury suites.

Perez said the whole redo won’t be completed until late 2008.

Several of the guest-comfort items, such as the upgraded bedding, are already in place, and others, such as construction of an outdoor fire pit and conversion of the old Fairfield Inn breakfast bar into an elegant-but-cozy lounge are set to start later this month, said Art Flores, general manager.

The guest rooms will be redone “in waves” so as not to inconvenience guests, said Sabrina Sirianni, marketing director. They’ll get all new furniture, carpeting and flat-screen, wall-mounted TVs, she said.

Key to the transformation of the lobby and breakfast area, was to first provide a new full-service restaurant, Flores said.

The Cafe Bistro Bar & Grill is attached to the hotel but owned by Tom Frank, a longtime restaurateur who helped fashion the P.F. Chang’s concept with mentor Paul Fleming.

Frank, who dubs himself a “recovering chain owner,” designed his new venture as “a neighborhood foodie restaurant.”

He said that’s a place that is comfortable, “like home, but where somebody else does the dishes. There are lots of places to dine in Scottsdale. I wanted (to create) a great place to get something to eat. It’s not about the chandeliers, it’s about the food.”

The eclectic menu features such comfort food as Mom and Pop’s Spaghetti and Meatballs or Homestyle Pork Chops, and such exotic fare as Japanese Pumpkin Ravioli or Wild Salmon.

The salads come in three sizes, and the pasta dishes come in twos to appeal to all-size appetites. Those who eat skimpily can order just one pancake, one pork chop or “for big kids” portions of items on the “little kids menu.”

The eatery’s emphasis is on organic produce, natural meats and, whenever possible, locally grown ingredients, Frank said.

There is no desert menu, because the sweet options are, “whatever we make that day,” Frank said.

Besides the comfy dining room, there is a bar and a food market. Frank said the market will feature local produce, take-out entrees from the restaurant, whatever baked delicacies Frank’s pastry chef cooks up to sell, artisan cheeses and fresh bread from Simply Bread, a Biltmore-area bakery that produces the sweet and savory loaves served at the Valley’s posh resorts.

The hotel will remain open while it’s being renovated, Sirianni said, similar to the ongoing transformation of the James Hotel into Mondrian, another of downtown Scottsdale’s trendy properties.

But Sirianni said the comparison of Hotel Scottsdale with Mondrian ends there.Mondrian, the underconstruction W and other nearby boutique hotels, are designed to be hot party spots for locals as well as hotel guests, she said. Hotel Scottsdale’s cocktail lounge will be upscale but quiet and cater to hotel guests, she said.

The vintage-looking Hotel Scottsdale sign was erected in a hurry to let people know the place is open for business, Flores said, but it will be replaced by a classier marquee when the outside is redone.

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