I don’t know about you but when the temperature creeps up, I itch to get the heck outta town. My family has a cabin up north which has always been a great escape! Recently on a “Rhino” ride around Strawberry, I saw the cutest little inn. Now this place was not always so quaint, so I was intrigued. Upon further investigation, it ends up a Scottsdale mom (and her hubby) bought the motel and transformed it. I am talking HGTV style. The 8-room inn is now called The Strawberry Inn. Being a big renovation show fan, I had to get to know the mama behind this. (FYI this is not a sponsored post, it was just me being nosy and now passing on the news of another Scottsdale mama doing something AWESOME!)
Amber Eilers and her hubby, Carson met in real estate back in 2009 and since have flipped more than 200 homes together. Their journey of transforming the inn started last summer. You can check out more “before & after” pics on their Facebook & IG.
Tell me about the Inn…
The Inn was originally built in the 70’s as an office building, and there was a cappuccino shop in the windmill. Somewhere along the way it was converted into a motel and called The Windmill Corner Inn, by the time we found it, it had been through a tax sale and the last owner had done some cosmetic work and furnished with used hotel furniture. When we stayed there over the summer the beds were uncomfortable and the lack of air-conditioning coupled with windows that wouldn’t open… let’s just say we were pretty discouraged and considered walking away from the deal. We packed up our kiddos at 11 at night to head back home, and just as we were getting out of town a BEAR ran across the highway!! Yes a real BEAR! We took it as a sign, I don’t know what kind of sign but it just seemed like one! HA! We decided to continue with the purchase, fully aware of the huge amount of time and energy this was going to take.
How did you guys start this massive project?
We started by giving away all the furniture and stripping down all the rooms, we were able to save the hair dryers and coffee pots from the last flipper (they were all brand new still in the box!), but that was about it. Once it was clear, we started with repairs and the installation of new air-conditioning and heating units in each room, then new wood-style tile floors, new windows and screens, shiplap walls and updated light fixtures. We put subway tile in the bathrooms and fresh white paint on everything! I picked out all new accessories and furniture from the valley and luxury pillow top, Tuft & Needle beds and bedding. Each room was going to have the same vibe but a little bit of a unique look and feel. We brought things up by the truckload until each piece of artwork found it’s home and every room was complete.
How do you juggle it all?
This is a tough one- running a business and raising a family can be a real test of time management and patience. I’m so thankful that we do this as a family, my husband and even our extended families have pitched in to support us- taking turns watching the girls or working on the project right along with us. We are intentional about including our kids in the business- even at their young age. The girls work together to organize and stock rooms with shampoo and lotion bottles, and they tell us how they’re going to run the hotel together when they grow up. We’re talking about opening a pop-up shop in the Windmill or even a coffee shop there for the summer, the girls are so excited and it’s really sweet.
For the folks who have never been up to Pine/Strawberry- what is there to do?
Here are couple local things we like to do:
• Fossil Creek Creamery and Goat/Llama Farm (Strawberry). You can call ahead and make sure they’ll be open. If it’s the right time of year you can see/feed little baby goats and it’s adorable!
• Hike Tonto Natural Bridge, a simple hike with a waterfall and nice areas for picnics and an old historic house to explore
• Old County Inn (Pine), wood fired pizza and live music.
• THAT Brewery, yes it’s an actual brewery in town, and the beer is awesome! They support the Arizona Trail with their own AZ Trail Ale, and they have a yummy Strawberry Blonde.
• Breakfast at Early Bird (Pine), it’s like a hometown Denny’s with fast service, huge portions, and Mickey Mouse sprinkle pancakes- my girls are obsessed with this.
• Old Strawberry Schoolhouse. It’s the oldest schoolhouse still standing in the state- cute photo op.
• Mama Joe’s. I’m obsessed with their chicken parm and they have inexpensive kids options like good ol’ mac & cheese. Plus it’s right across the street so you can walk back over get kids to sleep and enjoy the porch swing in front of your room!
• Pine Creek ice cream and fudge, they also make espresso drinks which I always need on “vacation.”
I agree with all Amber’s suggestions above and adding The Randall House for not only good food, but also an amazing selection of Melissa and Doug toys for sale that I’ve never seen anywhere else!