Classic Hotels & Resorts
Unique amenities, iconic destinations
Business View interviews Emily Dille, Director of Marketing & Communications at Classic Hotels & Resorts, for our focus on ‘Clean & Green’ Sustainability
Classic Hotels & Resorts (CH&R) is a full-service, family-owned, luxury hotel group with a curated portfolio of seven boutique properties and six restaurants across California and Arizona. Founded by Sam Grossman – a self-made hotelier and preeminent real estate developer– along with his wife, Peggy, the mission behind this notable brand is to offer the best of both worlds by blending the consistent service of a premier chain with the unique style and experiential elements of boutique properties.
Today, their son, John, CEO of Grossman Company Properties and the concept visionary behind CH&R’s branding, marketing, and programming, still carries that mission forward with the added passion and values for the intersection of design and sustainability. John believes there’s a role his company can play, and an action it can take, to set new trends within the industry.
“John is intimately involved in marrying the right design team to the right project, which is derived from the location, size, scope and natural attributes of the project’s location. Even when we’ve had wonderful success with a firm, he will seek out and formulate a project team to best address the opportunity. There is a desire to do something completely fresh and bring a new perspective to each project and to give it a truly distinctive identity.” says Dille. The reinvention of The Scott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale was led by AvroKO, a globally recognized design firm headquartered in New York City. One of the lead contacts on that project, Alexa Nafisi, has since branched out on her own. Her firm, San Francisco-based Adean Studios is behind the group’s newest project, High Country Motor Lodge.
The High Country Motor Lodge, located in the heart of Flagstaff, AZ, is slated to open March 2022. “It’s a nostalgic roadside motel, a throwback to the road trip days of midcentury America,” shares Dille. “Sitting right along iconic Route 66, it is a very special property both in its location and greater importance to the community.” She mentions that there are a mix of old motels and newer chain hotels in the market, but none that speak to the character of Flagstaff in quite the way the High Country Motor Lodge does.
“The redesign is a deliberate nod to both the region and its history, this can be found throughout the hotel from décor to guest programming such as stargazing,” Dille adds. The much-anticipated hotel will have 123 rooms, including three all-new “Cosmic Cottages,” a modern tribute to a cozy cabin, featuring sprawling lawn views and a private outdoor seating area. In addition, the property will debut Arizona’s first Nordic Spa Experience and an all-day culinary concept, The General Store.
Overall, CH&R’s brand leans to the midscale and upscale categories, with one property in particular that caters to a more family-friendly atmosphere: the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix, AZ. “Our largest property – boasting 744 spacious suites – is a bit of an outlier in our portfolio due to its size and amenity selection,” admits Dille. “It has a 7-acre waterpark, a championship golf course, and 20,000 sq. ft. spa and athletic club. And although it is a popular family destination, the resort boasts over 120,000 sq. ft. of event space for weddings and group business, hosting everything from vow renewals and dance competitions to trade shows and conventions.”
Also in the Valley of the Sun, The Scott Resort & Spa in Old Town Scottsdale is their next largest property, with 204 rooms and more than 14,500 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space. Notable amenities include the full-service La Vidorra Spa and The Canal Club restaurant and cocktail lounge. “The hotel was a Kimpton property that we acquired in 2016. After a $15 million reinvention which included both accommodations and public spaces, the resort was completely transformed.” The Scott’s renovation drew influence from two muses – in name from Scottsdale’s beloved founder, Winfield Scott and in design from the long history of immigrants who travel the American tropics and bring with them the culture and soul of the places they left behind, which taken together create a distinctly American experience. The stunning result is a celebration of the building’s historic architecture layered with the colors and comforts of Old Havana, all set against a lushly landscaped backdrop at the foot of Camelback Mountain.
The California Collection further illustrates how each of CH&R’s hotels has its own unique identity and amenities. In Orange County, The Inn at Laguna Beach boasts 70-rooms and a coveted location perched directly above Laguna’s Main Beach, while the 36-room Laguna Beach House offers a cozy coastal vibe reminiscent of a surfer’s retreat just steps from the water. In contrast, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s historic 75-room hotel, La Playa Carmel, features turn-of-the-century charm, award-winning gardens, and commanding ocean views, while the 30-room Hotel Carmel offers quaint seaside surrounds and a charming potted succulent garden in heart of the village. “Each property creates a unique experience specific to the hotel and destination,” Dille affirms.
Under CH&R’s management, Dille’s marketing team has the freedom to try things that other professionals in the hospitality industry can’t or won’t. She credits the privilege to a certain authoritative effect the CH&R brand produces. “We have the legitimacy of people with a lot of experience in the industry and we can trust in that,” she maintains. “But then we also have the benefit of a freedom to experiment. Whether it is our marketing campaigns, programming at the hotels, or especially with design. Sometimes our owner will take a risk and say, ‘Yeah, this might totally fall flat, but I think it’s worth trying.’ We focus on the idea of pursing what we like to call ‘strategic failures’, that we can learn from, quickly course-correct as needed and arrive at a result that works for us. It’s a constant and iterative process, which yields great and sometime unexpected results.”
The group’s concern for the planet is also visibly expressed through most acts of business. As part of CH&R’s ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, they’ve proudly partnered with 1% for the Planet, a globally-recognized alliance that encourages businesses to give 1% of their sales or income to an environmental nonprofit. “We became a member in 2018 and then had the pleasure of attending the Global Summit in 2019,” says Dille. “When Plastic Pollution Coalition, one of our beneficiaries, was selected as the Nonprofit Changemaker of the Year, we were thrilled to be able to offer our congratulations in person.”
CH&R makes every effort to partner with other 1% for the Planet members – businesses that are just as eager as they are to make an impact on the health of our shared planet. “We feel it our duty to take a greater responsibility for the cost of environmental impact, and our partnership with 1% for the Planet recognizes this focus,” says Richard Behr, Chief Operating Officer of CH&R. “We are the first hotel management company to do so, and hope that this commitment compels fellow management companies to follow suit.”
One of the like-minded businesses they like to work with is Raw Elements USA. “I actually discovered their sunscreen at a hotel in Hawaii, immediately recognizing the 1% for the Planet logo on their packaging,” Dille admits. “They have a great product, which hotel guests are encouraged to try through pool-side dispensers before purchasing.” CH&R has also gone to bulk soap and shampoo dispensers in their showers, a choice made in the name of sustainability. “It saves on the waste of single-use, shampoo and conditioner bottles and soaps,” Dille explains. “We’re always looking at exploring things that are more sustainable and cutting edge. For example, the toilets selected for the High Country Motor Lodge are even better than the traditional low-flows at 1.23 gallons per flush, which is anticipated to save over 4,000 gallons of water per toilet annually. They might be a little bit more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do.”
With the hospitality group’s projected portfolio growth over the next several years, CH&R recognizes its potential to create meaningful change with each asset it acquires.
“We like to work with local nonprofit organizations, so we can focus on efforts that better serve the communities in which we reside,” Dille says in conclusion. “We’ve partnered with the Arizona Trail Association, which protects and maintains the Arizona Trail that covers over 800 miles spanning canyons, deserts, and mountains. It’s a great tie-in with Flagstaff, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. We also contribute to the Grand Canyon Youth Association, which offers outdoor expeditions connecting children and young adults with the nature of the Southwest. In California, we have selected the Laguna Ocean Foundation and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute that do important work on behalf of our marine habitats by facilitating cleanup efforts and educational programming. As I’ve said, every hotel operates differently, with its own unique perspective, but our belief in sustainability and our commitment for a better tomorrow… that’s what gives the brand its distinctive relevance across all of our properties.”
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AT A GLANCE
Classic Hotels & Resorts
What: An innovative luxury property management company
Where: Based in Phoenix, Arizona