Phoenix is a great market for Choice Hotels International’s newest brand, Cambria Suites, in the middle but upscale tier that research predicts will see the highest demand over the next 20 years. “When you grow a brand, you want to grow in primarily urban markets where you can get eyeballs on the new product,” says Michael Murphy, senior VP of Cambria Suites, explaining that the hotel’s Desert Ridge location puts it in a prime Scottsdale-Phoenix micro-market that attracts a variety of traveler to its malls (as consumer as well as vendor), the Mayo Clinic and corporate business.
A comfortable, casual restaurant is part of the Cambria Suites design. Reflect will have approximate 35 seats, plus seating at the bar and the bar lobby. When the hotel opens in the fall of next year, the Phoenix location will have the distinction of housing the national chain’s test kitchen headed up by local celebrity chef Michael DeMaria. Murphy had initially reached out to Chef Michael to create a food program appropriate for the brand — to enhance the guest experience but at a low cost. Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Hospitality Management, which is developing the hotel and will be managing it, decided to leverage Chef Michael’s involvement and offered to make his hotel the test kitchen.
Ensuring consistency throughout the brand, Chef Michael developed an 8-hour video training program and accompanying illustrated recipe book that enables new cooks to “come in and learn in 24 hours,” Murphy says. The food and beverage program is fast-casual, with 90 percent of the items a core menu but allowing 10 percent to be flexible in order to customize it to local tastes and products.