Strawberry Dreaming Becomes Reality For Brothers

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Rick Finkler and Jason Finkler have loved outdoor recreation all their lives. The question that plagued them was how to make a living in the mountains they love.

The brothers were looking for homes to remodel when the Cabins on Strawberry Hill were posted for sale. The brothers seized the opportunity to combine their lifestyles with careers.

They first had the idea in 1996 while traveling in the Canadian Yukon and Alaska.

"I guess that's where we married the two ideas of hospitality industry and outdoor-lodging-type recreation, not necessarily hotels and resorts, but something like this," Rick said.

In 2000, they started actively pursuing their dream, spending three months on the road touring all 13 western states and British Columbia and Alaska.

"We've been coming up here for 10 or 12 years," younger brother Jason said. "We never thought we would find exactly what we wanted so close to where we lived." He was living in Fountain Hills at the time, and Rick was living in the Valley and Starlight Pines when the Strawberry property came on the market.

"The Valley was where we lived in between camping trips," Rick said. "This is back to reality. Living in the Valley was never our reality. We grew up in small town Michigan. There were just as many tractors in the high school parking lot as cars."

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Brothers Rick and Jason Finkler followed their dream of owning a business in the mountains to the Cabins on Strawberry Hill.

Jason's degree from ASU is in outdoor recreation management. He managed Fat Tuesday's, a restaurant and bar. Rick's degree is in community and public relations from Michigan State and he worked for Hyatt Hotels as a convention services manager in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Florida.

Since June 30, the brothers Finkler have been industrious. "Where shall I start?" Rick laughed.

Jason joked that they now have no outdoor life outside of their business.

"In the four months we've been here, we've refinished all 28 decks, we've restained and repainted all the cabins. We've done all new landscaping. We've constructed about 20 picnic tables," Rick said.

"The cabins have new bedspreads and curtains," Jason added.

Soon the cabins will have new carpet, fresh interior paint and new linens. Later the brothers have plans for building a bigger playhouse in the children's playground.

The cabins each sleep six. There is a queen sofa sleeper downstairs in addition to the queen bed in the bedroom. Upstairs there is either a queen bed or two twin beds.

As enthusiastic as the Finkler brothers are about hiking, quad and horseback riding and fishing, they will not be offering to take their guests on any tours. Instead, they say they will refer guests to local Rim Country businesses already providing these services.

The Cabins on Strawberry Hill is located at 5306 N. Highway 87 in Strawberry. Reservations can be made year-round by calling (928) 476-4252, or toll-free from the Valley, (480) 575-7866. The Web site is www.azcabins.com.

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