(All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted).
Grant Genzlinger: Chef Turned Hotelier
My recent visits to two popular Hawley, Pennsylvania properties opened the door to an informative and candid interview with the man behind Settlers Hospitality Group.
Grant Genzlinger, Settlers Hospitality co-founder, was a chef at Settlers Inn when he saw an extraordinary opportunity to offer travelers the best of all possible worlds. Properties with a history combined with the modern conveniences guests crave are a few of the reasons the company’s properties are celebrated.
A Storyteller at Heart
I encourage you to listen to my interview with Grant as he taps into his storyteller personality and engages in heartfelt conversation about what makes Settlers Hospitality Group properties stand out. You’ll find the link at the bottom of this post.
Five Unforgettable Experiences
You’ll understand why Grant has built his life around the hospitality industry after you read this article. Welcoming guests and setting up an exemplary experience is his specialty and with his wife, Jeanne, as co-founder, the team has meticulously crafted five unforgettable properties.
The Settlers Inn, Silver Birches Resort, Ledges Hotel, Hotel Anthracite, and The Sayre Mansion are perfect lodging options that are ideal for a wide variety of customers’ tastes and needs.
Creating The Settlers Inn Model
The Settler’s Inn was Grant and Jeanne’s first opportunity to create their extraordinary hospitality model that laid the groundwork for continued success. Each property evolved in response to a perceived need and the couple was spot on. The Sayre Mansion, for example, got its start at the same time as their son, Justin, was a student at Lehigh University. The neglected structure, rundown and in need of tender loving care, beckoned the Genzlinger couple to give birth to the Lehigh Valley boutique hotel.
Redefined Adaptive Reuse
What is Grant’s favorite property?
Suffice to say, the mere mention of any of the company’s trendsetting accommodations brings a smile to Grant Genzlinger’s face and a willingness to discuss the cuisine, decor, history, and restoration.
Scroll down to watch my interview with Grant Genzlinger.
Eye for Design
All guest rooms feature a different look and feel with a mix of hand-crafted furniture, accessories, and a carefully chosen color palette, a product of Grant and Jeanne’s vision and dedication to originality. Together, the elements are indicative of a well-developed eye for design and an ability to combine those elements without fussiness. Extreme comfort is the result.
The Settlers Inn is an architectural gem that stands in the heart of downtown Hawley. Begin and end your day with a meal in the dining room served by overtly polite servers who uphold the impeccably high standards Settlers Hospitality management promise their guests. Likewise, nightly specials offered throughout the year range from fish and seafood to meat and pasta. Dinner reservations are recommended.
The Settlers Inn Photo Gallery
A Must-See Interview with Grant Genzlinger
My stay at The Settlers Inn was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.
The Sayre Mansion stately presence stands out among the Lehigh Valley’s historic properties. One common thread that ties the Settlers Hospitality Group’s properties together is they’re all distinctive. But there’s more to Settlers’ success than the individualized decor, superbly comfortable accommodations, and the outstanding food served in the on-site restaurants. It’s the personalized service each guest receives.
This luxury boutique hotel at 250 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA, features 22 guest rooms and is one of five properties owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group, a Hawley, Pennsylvania-based company. Settlers transforms historic properties with the authentic style and details very much intact. Four of those properties are located in Northeastern Pennsylvania but the Sayre mansion has its home in Bethlehem.
The grounds and many of the guest rooms offer a sweeping view of the downtown that’s an invitation to explore the restaurants, shops, and university life. Robert Sayre, a town entrepreneur, raised his family in the mansion until the early 1900s. In the years that followed, the building was used for a variety of purposes, from boarding to a fraternity house.
Inside the mansion, you’ll meet the innkeeper, Timothy Bobb, and his attentive staff who elevate hospitality to a new level above and beyond what you might expect. Timothy, a quintessential conversationalist, is eager to learn more about each of his guests and does so in a non-intrusive manner.
Timothy assures, “You will be greeted by a person and not an automated check-in.” He or a member of his staff is always on hand to help guests settle into their rooms and they’ve all mastered the art of making guests feel at home.
“If there’s bad weather and guests are traveling (by plane), more than likely, I know there was a delay. When they finally arrive, they probably want to find a restaurant or they need a moment to refresh,” Timothy said. “I’ll be sure to ask, ‘Do you need a glass of water? Would you like a cup of coffee? Can I suggest a local restaurant?”
Timothy Bobb, Innkeeper
Customer Care: A Rewarding Experience
The reward, he said is to watch that person evolve from the harried, aggravated traveler to a very comfortable relaxed guest in a short amount of time. The Sayre Mansion, a boutique bed & breakfast, is the only Settlers’ property that currently, does not have an on-site restaurant but you will be treated to an outstanding breakfast each morning in the hotel’s dining room during your stay.
PET ALERT: Canine friends are welcome at this pet-friendly bed & breakfast but be sure to contact the inn before you book your reservation.
What makes Timothy particularly well suited for his position as The Sayre Mansion innkeeper?
He began his career in interior design, held similar innkeeper positions, and also owned and operated a catering business before joining Settlers Hospitality Group at Silver Birches Resort, a sister property in the Lake Wallenpaupack region of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains
The “Conservatory” is a favorite with guests who yearn to sleep under the stars and city lights. Photo courtesy of Settlers Hospitality Group.
BETHLEHEM TRAVEL AND DINING FACT: Finding the perfect restaurant will not be a problem. Bethlehem is home to a variety of restaurants and many are within walking distance from The Sayre Mansion ranging from Asian, Italian, and pub to diners. You name it and you’ll likely find a palate-pleaser meal along the streets of historic Bethlehem. My dining experience at Bolete is a “10-plus.” (more details forthcoming).
The Robert Sayre Library was my home during my stay. My recently renovated suite featured two rooms: a spacious bedroom and library decorated with turn-of-the-century furnishings with a plush chaise-style lounge chair that became my second all-time favorite piece of furniture. The queen-sized bed dressed in lavishly comfortable linens is at the top of my list.
Accommodations: The Mansion and The Carriage House offer a variety of lodging options and depending on if you’re traveling alone on business or you have your family in tow, there’s a room for you. I toured every guest room in the mansion and they’re all furnished with comfort and elegance in mind.
You can count on extreme comfort in every guest room managed by Settlers Hospitality Group.
Relax by the fireplace as you sip your favorite tea or coffee. The inn is decorated with antiques and period-style furniture.
When the opportunity to travel to Bethlehem unfolds, The Sayre Mansion is a model bed & breakfast, with exemplary service and amenities for the consummate traveler or anyone who wants to experience a bed & breakfast at its finest. Robert Sayre found the location to his liking only steps away from city life in historic Bethlehem.
Points of Interest: Lehigh University, St. Luke’s Hospital, and most historic attractions are within walking distance. Tourism information can be found here.
Additional properties owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group:
The Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale, PA
Settlers Inn, Hawley, PA
Ledges Hotel, Hawley, PA
Silver Birches, Hawley, PA (adjacent to Lake Wallenpaupack)
My lodging was comped by Settlers Hospitality Group but my opinions are my own and based on my own experience.
Partner: Transcription of my interview was provided by Transcribe.
About us: Transcribe has been around for 8 years. We began as a simple do-it-yourself transcription tool but evolved as the overall speech recognition technology matured. We introduced a dictation (voice typing) feature a few years ago when it became reliable enough. Last year we introduced a state-of-the-art automatic machine transcription for pre-recorded audio and video. We support a wide set of languages.
Settlers Hospitality Group Hails Carbondale’s History
Saluting Carbondale’s vast history is no easy task. This Pioneer City was founded on March 15, 1851, and is the fourth oldest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Settlers Hospitality Group chose to honor Carbondale’s coal-mining and railroading history when it refurbished the Hotel Anthracite.
Every piece of art that adorns the walls throughout the hotel tells a story. Consequently, you won’t find a stock photo in the lobby, restaurant, hallways, or guest rooms and each piece, whether it’s a framed photograph or another medium, is in some way related to the city’s rich anthracite and cultural history.
Settlers Hospitality Group is an award-winning hospitality company based in Hawley, PA, one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most endearing historic towns. The group owns and manages The Hotel Anthracite, along with the Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, Silver Birches Resort, and Sayre Mansion.
Settlers’ goal is to provide their guests with a one-of-a-kind tribute to the heritage that surrounds each of its properties. Equally as important to guests are the exceptional accommodations and cuisine and unwavering service.
“The key operating philosophy of the hotel arm of the Settlers Hospitality Group is to provide an independent and authentic lodging experience that is guest-focused, locally flavored, and pet-friendly,” Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manger, explained.
Simpler commented in detail about the hotel’s history during our lunch at KOL Steakhouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant. He delved into the features as I sampled the OUTSTANDING Baby Greens and Quinoa Salad, topped with grilled chicken and drizzled with a Champagne Blood Orange Vinaigrette. Suffice to say, the hotel has covered all the bases with style, creativity, and artistry.
Born and raised in the Hudson Valley, Simpler found himself back in Northeastern Pennsylvania to partner with Settler’s Hospitality. His wife Jenna (Simpler) runs the resort side of the Silver Birches Resort, a Settlers property that celebrates the history of the Lake Wallenpaupack region.
Jeanne Genzlinger, the matriarch of the Settlers Hospitality Group, served as the main designer. She selected a neutral color palette, which is an ideal backdrop for the history and outdoors’ themes. Jeff George, (artistic design), S. Robert Powell (Carbondale historian) and Juan H. Espino (artist: The Looking Glass Gallery) all played significant roles in the historical detailing within the walls of the Hotel Anthracite. Altogether, the decor is the best of all worlds. As you enter the Hotel Anthracite, you’ll find historical charm effortlessly blended with modern amenities guests expect.
Large chunks of official anthracite coal are displayed in the Hotel Anthracite lobby surrounded by photos of the Gravity Railroad and its first locomotive, “The Stourbridge Lion.” They’re your cue the decor is intended to educate, enlighten, and motivate you to discover more about Carbondale’s past.
“We have utilized that foundation to bring photography and recreated historical elements to Hotel Anthracite,” said Simpler.
“The feeling we were going for was to bring the hotel back to emphasize what’s out the windows. The neutral palette is great to work with because you have a lot of flexibility. It’s a clean and modern look but it also fits well with the historical theme we have,” he said.
Formerly known as the Carbondale Grand Hotel and operated as a Best Western until the Settler’s group purchased and renovated the building, the Hotel Anthracite averages 15,000 stays a year in their newly-appointed rooms. The management is in tune with their guests’ needs and expectations and delivers a high-quality package.
In the guest rooms, new beds are topped with standard and king-sized pillows. What’s more, towels, linens, curtains, and the sofas are also new. Certified botanical organic bath products are provided in dispensers rather than single-use throw-away bottles to reflect Settlers Hospitality’s commitment to conservation.
YES to Pets
Pets and their families stay in comfort with the pet program in place. Yes, the hotel has pet-assigned rooms to protect guests with allergies. But Simpler said, “We always do something personal to welcome the dogs to our property.” Be sure to inquire about the pet policy when you reserve your room.
Simpler’s way of thinking about The Hotel Anthracite is, “Why not make it a great experience that people talk about.”
KoL Steakhouse Dining: A Natural, Easy Fit
What thoughts does the name “Kōl” evoke? If your guess is a “play on words” reflecting Carbondale’s anthracite legacy, you’re correct, according to Simpler.
“It (the name) is a natural, easy fit,” he said. “It aligns with our history.”
Kōl Steakhouse is for diners who want a dining experience that’s different – fine dining in a casual steakhouse setting. Renowned Executive Chef Michael Bodner begins with locally sourced aged beef and then adds his own creative flair to the regional fare and daily specials.
My choice was the mouth-watering Chicken Milanese Anthracite, a moderately priced entree ($19) from the Chef’s Plates’ section of the menu. The savory breaded free bird farm chicken breast, seasoned with aromatic basil and arranged with tomatoes, harmonizes with the balsamic dressing, asparagus, and creamy risotto. I said “NO” to dessert because my palette was content. My meal was a perfect-sized portion and a combination of flavors.
The wine menu offers more than 100 different bottles of wine in a full range of styles and prices. A handful of local wines are available, thanks to the hotel’s sommelier who put the wine list together for all of the Settler’s Hospitality Group’s properties. Looking for a fresh, local beer on tap or in the bottle? Come to Kōl Steakhouse and quench your thirst. The bartender will accommodate your hankering with a variety of liquor and mixed drink concoctions.
“You need to deliver something more – a new experience,” is Simpler’s philosophy.
Simpler noted, “In the months I’ve been here (as manager), I’ve come to know the untapped opportunity and potential here in Carbondale is huge. Settlers Hospitality management and staff have proven that folks will drive from hours away to dine at their hotels because the experience and food are so fantastic.”
Community Partnerships = Endless Opportunities
Once you’ve taken an architectural and historical tour of Carbondale, venture into local communities and set your sights on Northeastern Pennsylvania’s four seasons. The Settlers Hospitality Group partners with local businesses in each of their hotels’ locations so guests have access to a variety of activities that range from skiing, cycling, hiking, to world-class fishing that will get your heart pumping.
Travel Tip: Hotel Anthracite is a mere 25 minutes from historic sites in downtown Scranton and less than 35 minutes from Honesdale and Hawley. Allow at least a half-day to explore each town.
The Lackawanna Heritage Trail, a popular multi-use trail system. exemplifies how a partnership is a win-win for all businesses and visitors. You’ll find the Carbondale Trailhead literally across the street and less than a half-block away from Hotel Anthracite. Simpler says guests can borrow a bike through the BikeShare program at the hotel and The Carbondale YMCA and ride to the New York border on a bicycle. The trail opened less than a week before my visit and you’ll find the link to my companion story here. Spend some time at the newly-built Riverfront Park along the Lackawanna River and stop in at The Chamber Gallery and view the latest exhibit.
Travel Tip: Buy your Pennsylvania fishing license and bring your fishing gear. The Lackawanna River awaits you with an assortment of cold-water and warm-water fish species. Depending on where you fish, the river is home to trout, bullhead, bass, perch, and bluegills.
History buffs should plan a self-guided walking tour and take in the architecture. Carbondale’s array of historic buildings has helped put the city on the map. Don’t miss the historic Memorial Square, City Hall, and the Trinity Episcopal Church and its extraordinary tiffany-windows. Similarly, guests who love snow sports like skiing will have no problems finding the perfect ski conditions at Elk Mountain Ski Resort. Inquire at the hotel about individual and family ski and rental packages. If you’re like me, combining business and pleasure does involve some advanced planning but your trips can be exceptional and memorable.
Conclusion: Whatever your reason for traveling, Hotel Anthracite is a first-rate lodging choice. Experience a small-town treasure in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the ideal base camp to explore a revitalized region alive with history and culture.
My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my personal experience.
A NEW stretch of trail in Northeastern Pennsylvania offers residents and visitors one-and-a-half miles of compacted terrain that’s ideal for jogging, walking, and cycling. The Carbondale Riverwalk opened in May (2018) and on a late spring afternoon, adults and children of all ages spent their afternoon taking in the prolific greenery along the Lackawanna River, a 40-mile long river that’s known for extraordinary fly fishing.
On that day, couples strolled hand-in-hand, children pedaled diligently to keep up with their parents, and cyclists took advantage of the safe pedestrian-only pathway.
I imagine I was among the first-timers to participate in the bike loan program. While usage statistics are not available yet, it’s safe to say exercise and nature enthusiasts continue to discover and utilize the new pathway, partly because of “BikeCarbondale,” a free bike-share program that makes it possible for individuals to borrow a bicycle so they can take in the Carbondale’s Coal Mining History. The program is managed by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV) in conjunction with two prominent Carbondale partners: Hotel Anthracite, 25 S. Main St. and the Greater Carbondale YMCA, 82 N. Main St. The program is made possible with funds made available through the Northeast Pennsylvania Healthcare Foundation. Individuals age 18 years and older are eligible to loan one of the authority’s 10 bikes available at the hotel and YMCA.
Cycling was my first activity after checking in at the Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale’s newly-renovated lodging (formerly known as Carbondale Grand Hotel). (You can read more about the hotel in an upcoming article on my website.) Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manager, was eager for me to test drive a bike and the new trail. I returned to the hotel revitalized after approximately two hours.
LHV projects stimulate the region’s economic development, enhance tourism, and strengthen community organizations with a goal to improve and increase the quality of life for area residents. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley trail system spans 70 miles from the confluence of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna Rivers in Pittston and continues north where it connects with the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail and the Carbondale Riverwalk.
You will celebrate the sunshine and appreciate the shaded areas, too. When you stop for a break, take note of the established trees that provide a canopy and the shrubs and native plants alongside the banks that serve as a natural border. Venture into downtown Carbondale and admire the architecture.
Since 2013, LHV has opened eight miles of well-maintained heritage trails that enhance and showcase the region’s striking beauty and diverse scenery. You can watch the videos of the grand openings of the Scranton to Taylor, D&H Extension Trail, and Archbald to Jermyn stretches, and learn more about the most recent, Carbondale to Simpson.
Trail project partners were the City of Carbondale, PennDOT, DCED (Department of Commerce and Economic Development) and DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). FABCOR (Jessup) and Rutledge Excavating Inc (Tyler Hill) completed the trail with and QPI (Carbondale) constructed the wall near the junkyard. The Riverwalk section will connect to the D&H Rail Trail later this summer to form a 20-mile stretch of fully developed trail.
Contact me via the form below if you have questions or comments.