Hotel business accommodates family philosophy

Chaparral Suites Hotel in Scottsdale is truly a family business.

The general manager, recently elected Scottsdale Councilman Tom Silverman, co-owns the hotel along with his father, Ray; his brother, Richard; and sister, Carol, who is the hotel’s director of food and beverage.

The hotel, located on the corner of Scottsdale and Chaparral Roads, also caters to families, as well as business travelers and groups, Silverman says.

Perhaps even more accommodating than the average family, the 311-room Chaparral Suites Hotel offers guests a complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast every morning, as well as a two-hour manager’s reception every evening. The all-suite hotel also offers 24-hour complimentary airport transportation.

The family has owned this land since they first came to Scottsdale in 1953.

“I asked my dad why he picked Scottsdale,” Tom Silverman says. “He looked in downtown Phoenix, downtown Mesa and Scottsdale. Something told him that Scottsdale was special and that’s where he needed to be.

“I’m happy that he picked Scottsdale,” he adds.

As a child, Silverman assisted his father with front desk and maintenance duties at the family-owned Paradise Valley Guest Ranch. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1968, with a degree in business management. He continued at the Guest Ranch and later became manager.

In 1978, the Guest Ranch closed and, after remodeling throughout 1979, became a Granada Royal Hometel. In 1984, the hotel became an Embassy Suites Resort.

In November 1999, the Embassy Suites contract expired and the hotel became independently-owned and renamed Chaparral Suites Hotel.

“That’s the only difference, the name change,” Silverman says. “Everything else is the same. Same ownership, same management, same amenities.”

Some hotel guests, including winter visitors who stay at the hotel for eight weeks at a time, have been staying there since 1980, Silverman says.

In December 1999, the hotel opened the Chaparral Grand Ballroom, a state-of-the-art conference center with 11,200 square feet of function space to accommodate 1,400 guests for a reception or more than 900 guests if set banquet style. An additional 6,600-square-foot foyer provides a variety of private entryways to the ballroom.

For Passover, the hotel’s restaurant, the Fourth Floor Grille, is offering a holiday dinner on April 19. The menu includes traditional holiday foods and costs $18.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 6 to 10 years old. Although there is no formal seder, says Carol Silverman, guests are welcome to hold a seder at their own table.

Tom Silverman is a member of Temple Beth Israel in Scottsdale, where he became a bar mitzvah at the temple’s second location, at 10th Avenue and Flower Street in Central Phoenix. He has three adult sons – Matthew, a Phoenix attorney; Michael, who works in the hotel’s sales department; and Joel, a navy pilot – and six grandchildren.

He says one of the biggest lessons that he learned from his Jewish upbringing is ethics. “(Judaism) teaches ethics and being ethical in your life,” he says.

“I think Jewish people are so well known about giving back to others less fortunate and we’ve always done that in my family,” Silverman says.

An example of this is the hotel’s participation in a charity event in which restaurants donate half of their profits from one dish to Waste Not, an organization that helps feed the homeless.

As another way to help the community, the family established The Silverman Family Foundation, which provides funding to many local charities, scholarships and fund-raisers. His family also provides scholarships for the nursing program at Scottsdale Community College.

More proof of Silverman’s commitment to Scottsdale is his recent election to the Scottsdale City Council on March 15. He says that it’s important to him to give back to the community.

“This town has been so good to us, we’ve got to give back.”

This article first appeared in Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.

When Harry met Geri…

Although their wedding wasn’t broadcast on national television, involving millions of dollars and millions of viewers, Geri and Harry Feinman have had a much more memorable experience than the “stars” of “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.”

Geri and Harry Feinman will celebrate 64 years of marriage in June.

One of the first things you see when you walk into their Scottsdale home is a collage of pictures on the wall. Photographs document their daughter Arlene’s life, from infancy to marriage. Other photographs show their three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

One weekend in 1934, a 16-year-old Geri Schainen went with a friend to a dance. At first she refused to go because she was worried about running into a past date who didn’t know how to dance. However, only two boys were there and one was Geri’s future husband, then 17.

“He was my dream man except I wanted someone with dark hair and he had light brown hair,” she says.

Harry liked what he saw too – he asked her to twirl around in front of him so he could get a good look.

The couple began spending time together.

“Actually we’re not married 64 (years), we’ve been married 66 1/2 years,” Harry says.

“He’s talking about the 2 1/2 years we kept company,” Geri explains.

They got married after they finished high school.

At that time, people got married young, Geri says. “Today they are smarter, they want to live a little first. I think you should get married when you’re about 25.”

“Not many people have long marriages today,” Harry says. “It’s unfortunate. You see, sometimes when the young ones have an argument today, they say ‘why do I have take this crap’…they just pick themselves up and get a divorce; they break up families. One thing I’ll say about marriage: You have to work on it every day.”

“You have to take the good with the bad,” Geri says. “Two people living together are never fully happy. You can’t be. They’re two different human beings.”

“You have to be honest about the whole thing,” Harry says.

When they met, Harry was acting on the stage and he watched his friends move to California to try to find success in Hollywood. “I had a choice – her or California.” He loved Geri and decided a life with her was more important.

Harry was a traveling shoe salesman and later designed shoes.

Although they are both in their early 80s, they try not to let their age stop them from enjoying life.

“We feel that once you pass the age of 80, you are living on borrowed time and we cherish it. Therefore, when anyone asks me how I feel, I invariably reply, ‘I woke up this morning, so I know I’m still alive,’ ” Geri says.

Geri still likes to Lindy and loves to tango, but they don’t dance as often as they used to, she says. Harry is a good dancer, she says, but he doesn’t like it.

They both enjoy cruising. “It’s the only way to travel,” Geri says, while Harry is on the phone, talking about a cruise brochure he holds in his hand. They’ve traveled to Argentina, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Hong Kong, China, Alaska and Mexico.

They also enjoy going to the movies and visiting their family.

“We are fortunate that our bodies are still well preserved on the outside. However, on the inside, from the neck down, there is trouble brewing,” Geri says.

“No one looks good when they first get out of bed in the morning, and neither do we. Many times in the morning, we look at each other and laugh. We cannot understand who the old people are who have taken over our bodies because, spiritedly, we still feel like we are 35,” Geri says.

“My husband and I have not had a fairytale marriage,” she says. “I don’t think that happens in real life. We’ve had differences of opinions, we’ve been disappointed with each other at times, and we’ve suffered painful situations together. But we both weathered them and stayed together,” Geri says.

It appears they’ve set a good example, because their daughter, who lives nearby, will celebrate her 44th anniversary with her husband, Jack Millman, in June.

One of the most important aspects of a lasting marriage is compatibility, Geri says. “That’s the basis. Be compatible. You don’t have to want everything he wants; he doesn’t have to want everything you want. You have to compromise and be compatible.”

What is Harry’s advice?

“If you meet the right partner, you have the best thing of all.”

What do you look for in the right partner? “A good heart,” he says.

Harry picks up their 1936 wedding picture.

“You were beautiful, oh boy. This isn’t me. This isn’t the same guy. I don’t know what happened to this guy.”

“He got older,” Geri says.

Harry is quiet, as he stares at the picture.

“You could fall in love with this guy. Look how beautiful you are,” he then says to his wife. “Didn’t we both make a beautiful couple? Where did the years fly? What a time. This brings back a lot of memories, this picture.”

This article first appeared on jewishaz.com.