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3 Interview Tips for Journalists

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  • September 13, 2019
Story ideas are everywhere!

Lessons From An Award-Winning Journalist

Incorporate these three interviewing tips to help transform your fears and boost your confidence.

Many people believe outstanding writing skills are what set the top-notch journalists apart from the mediocre ones, or the experienced from the inexperienced.

Places to Interview for Your Next Story
Interview during dinner? Why not? A conversation over a delicious meal is relaxing and the perfect icebreaker.

Take it from me, a five-time award-winning freelance journalist, interviewing skills are the single most important instrument in your reporter’s toolbox.

Practice these 3 Interview Tips at your next interview

1. Be prepared for the unexpected answer and immediately follow up on any comments you believe will interest your readers. Once your interviewee is finished with a sentence, don’t hesitate to ask for additional information. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions.

2. Keep your options open but have your list of questions on hand. I can tell you from experience, (and more than 1,500 interviews to my credit) interviews that begin and end as a conversation make your story easy to prepare and are, by far, the most interesting to read.

3. Read or listen to your interview transcript less than 24 hours after your interview. Follow up with your interviewee by email no later than a day after your interview. If you have an equipment malfunction or you’re not sure about an answer to one of your questions, waiting until you prepare your story or article serves no purpose.

Do you love what you’ve read so far?

Think about the most memorable television, radio, YouTube, or podcast interviews you’ve watched or listened to in your lifetime. If one, in particular, comes to mind, chances are the interviewer’s style is one of the factors that set the interview apart from the others you’ve seen. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking to some of the world’s most famous journalists as role models but develop your own style.

Interviews on horseback? Why not? As long as you’re looking ahead, you can interview almost anywhere.

As a journalist, you set the tone. Be prepared, calm, respectful, patient, and inquisitive.

I’ll leave you today with additional insight into why I love interviews.

I’m intrigued by people and their stories. Everyone I’ve met in my life, from the artist to the politician has a story that’s ripe and ready to tell. Your job is to extract that information and present it in an interesting and orderly manner while adhering to basic style rules.

Travel writers are journalists and one of my goals as a mentor is to convey the importance of integrity, creativity, and professionalism to new writers who cover the travel and tourism industry. I’ll expand on tips for travel writers in lessons I’m currently preparing for the Journalist Support Hub, a members-only Facebook community I created to give news writers the tools they need to compete and thrive in a highly competitive market. Join today by clicking here.

Or get your copy of my course, “The INCREDIBLE Interview: Tips for Journalists and Travel Writers.” and learn how to interview with style. I’ll dispell myths, debunk your pre-conceived notions you’ve come to believe about yourself, and teach you everything I learned as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines. You’ll walk away with the lessons I learned that led me to win five newspaper association awards.

A WRITER’S NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO INTERVIEWING
A WRITER’S NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO INTERVIEWING will guide you through the best tips and techniques you can use when you conduct interviews. You’ll learn Tips For A Meaningful, Productive Conversation you can apply to your on-going journalism and travel-writing courses.

You’ll learn how to put your mind at ease, squash your fears, and set the stage for a compelling and engaging INTERVIEW with people from all walks of life who want to tell their stories. Too many times, I’ve heard, “I was really nervous about being interviewed but you’re a great interviewer.”

As always, message me with any questions.

Learn new skills today.

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American Zoos Lifestyle Museums and Zoos Pennsylvania attractions Things to do in Pennsylvania Zookeepers

7 Reasons You Should Visit Reptiland

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  • September 12, 2019
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Reptiland Komodo Dragon

A Must-See Pennsylvania Zoo

Animals bring smiles, warm our hearts, and teach us why we need to learn as much as possible about their natural habitats. Reptiland offers interactive exhibits.

Slithering snakes, alligators, two Komodo Dragons, frogs, giant tortoises, parakeets, and an emu are seven reasons you should plan to spend a morning or afternoon at Reptiland.

Turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, and crocodilians from around the world flourish in naturalistic habitats with an educational element that spans 6,500 square feet. Reptiland exhibits and gallery houses are open year-round.

Should you need more coaxing, adults and children can count on learning a thing or two about each of the animals who call Reptiland home. Displays and exhibits offer visitors a chance to observe and learn. Very often, we look to zoos for entertainment but, they can provide so much more and ignite curiosity and nurture a sense of respect and wonderment for children and adults of all ages.

Take a moment to browse the photo gallery and then scroll down and continue reading about Clyde Peeling, Reptiland founder and owner and the astonishing animals in his life. At the bottom of the page, click on the links to watch my candid video interviews with Peeling, an astute and captivating speaker with years of expertise.

Reptiland Photo Gallery

Celebrating Success: One Step at a Time

Peeling’s dream began as a roadside zoo and has evolved for more than 50 years as a result of his perseverance and genuine concern for the welfare of the animals. Opening a zoo was a lifelong goal and that dream came to fruition on July 11, 1964, when he opened the Reptiland doors to visitors. Creating “a zoo along the road,” rather a roadside zoo, according to Peeling, has been his focus since he bought the tract of land, formerly a vacant strip of Pennsylvania farmland in Allenwood, PA.

Reptiland wasn’t an instant success and the zoo has grown as a result of Peeling’s diligence, periodic expansions, and renovations, and most of all, his dedication to the animal preservation, responsible propagation of a variety of endangered species, and conservation. Peeling is recognized and respected for his efforts throughout the zoo community and it’s not a mystery why. Once you’ve been inside Reptiland you’ll understand.

Here’s your chance to watch my series of interviews with Clyde Peeling. You’ll learn more about his aspirations and current happenings at Reptiland.

My series of video interviews with Clyde Peeling reveal how the man behind Reptiland overcame obstacles along the way. In this interview, he explains how traveling exhibitions have become an important part of Reptiland’s business.
My sons and I spent a memorable afternoon at Reptiland. Teaching children to respect all creatures is as much a matter of providing mobile classrooms at zoos near you. .
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube travel channel and share this article and videos with your friends and family.

Do you have comments or a photograph about Reptiland you’d like to share? Post them at https://www.facebook.com/JoanMeadMatsuiTravelWriter1115.

Visit https://reptiland.com for visitor information, current show schedules, and other important details.

Many thanks to Clyde Peeling and his staff for the opportunity for my sons and me to visit Reptiland. My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Be sure to check out my related zoo coverage. As a newly married couple and for years while we raised our children, we’ve made a point to regularly visit zoos as a reminder of how we, as humans, can peacefully and respectfully co-exist with the animal kingdom.

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City Hall Grand Hotel: Where to stay in Pennsylvania Eber Culver architectural designs Historic hotels in Pennsylvania hotel Pennsylvania hotel Williamsport Hotels near me Lifestyle Williamsport Lodging

History Brought to Life In PA

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  • August 26, 2019
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City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior

Williamsport LANDMARK

CITY HALL GRAND HOTEL

City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport
Once a city government hub, the Williamsport, PA, City Hall was transformed into a hotel that will delight anyone who appreciates an artful renovation of a historic property. The “Trumpeter,” Civil War monument erected 120 years ago, welcomes guests and passers-by.

All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Step into the Williamsport City Hall Grand Hotel and time stands still. If you envision a grand old style structure that features wooden interior doors with frosted glass and everything down to the doorknobs screams city government hub, you’re on the mark. Transforming a vacant, multi-level building into lodging that appeals to travelers from all walks of life had to have been a challenge. If you’re looking for hotels near Wellsboro or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, the grand hotel is within an hour from outdoor recreation attractions.

As I set out to find lodging in the vicinity of a well-known fishing creek, the room descriptions and images on the hotel’s website prompted me to book a room for my sons and me. After hearing about the restoration project from the hotel’s manager, I knew City Hall Grand Hotel would be a treasure we had to see in person.

City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior
The towers are a focal point throughout the city. If you lose your way as you’re sightseeing around town, the towers will guide you back to City Hall Grand Hotel. Photo by Kento Matsui

Eber Culver: If He Could See It Now

Eber Culver, one of the city’s most prominent architects saw his design come to life when the City Hall was built in 1893. The five-story former city hall in the heart of downtown Williamsport, PA, with its two towers and yellow brick trimmed in stone, molded brick ornamentation and columns of terra cotta, is a sight to behold. On Nov. 7, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Culver’s city hall has its place alongside another historic Williamsport landmark, the “Trumpeter,” a Civil War monument erected 120 years ago. Walk along the streets of the former “Lumber Capital of the World” and you’ll find other fine examples of antiquity and the city’s industrial heritage. Williamsport offers the traveler a taste of the past and important insight into Pennsylvania’s array of industries.

Although the building’s exterior facade has remained unchanged due to rules that govern the treatment of historic properties, the stone and architectural detailing pave the way for what’s in store inside. Step inside with me as I take you on a photo tour of the City Hall Grand Hotel.

City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport PA Treasure

On the first floor, commercial tenants set up their offices but only a few steps away, down the hall, is where the hotel design show begins. There are no better words to describe the City Hall Grand Hotel than a thriving example of creative, quality craftsmanship, and adaptive reuse. 

The interior reveals Williamsport’s industrial heritage while offering guests modern-day comforts. During the renovation, brick and lumber were salvaged and incorporated as key elements in the overall design.

City Hall Grand Hotel, Williamsport, PA

City Hall Grand Hotel offers two types of rooms: Traditional and Hulk Rooms.

HULK ROOM? What’s a Hulk Room?

The late Josh Butters (Hulk Destruction, Construction, and Salvage Company) came up with the name to convey his appreciation for the city’s history and individuals who led it to prosper and grow. Authenticity isn’t limited to the names he gave to the guestrooms. Butters honored Williamsport when he mapped out the design of each one-of-a-kind room.

Many of the Hulk Rooms feature open showers and separate toilet rooms lending a European flair. Guests who are traveling with children and need more privacy should request the “Flood” or Lumber rooms.

City Hall Grand Hotel Guest Room Open Bathroom
An open floor plan in many of the Hulk guestrooms featured an open shower room that’s ideal for couples and single guests. See the image directly below for another take on the open bath area.
City Hall Grand Hotel open floor plan second view
Brick and tile line the walls and floors in the Hulk bathroom shown below.

Several of the Hulk Rooms feature a sliding door that can be adjusted to close off a section of the room to give adults traveling with children more privacy. Be sure to ask for one of those guest rooms when you book your reservation.

City Hall Grand Hotel Industrial Heritage Shown Throughout the Building
You’ll be captivated with the restored photographs displayed throughout the hotel. “The Lumber Room” reflects the city’s title as the former Lumber Capital of the World. Some of the photos date back to the 1800s. Shown is one of the many tables Butters handcrafted.
Hulk Lumber Room City Hall Grand Hotel
A close-up photo of the late Joshua Butters’ craftsmanship shows off wood as one of Williamsport’s primary industries: Lumber.

Every detail, from the bed frames and sliding doors to the sink and light fixtures have Butter’s creative stamp.

City Hall Grand Hotel Crafted Lighting Fixtures
Soft task lighting adds a touch of minimalism to a Hulk Room at City Hall Grand Hotel.

He designed and crafted many of the accents exclusively for the City Hall Grand Hotel owners, Tim and Sandra Butters, whose vision for the late Victorian-Romanesque Revival-style building ties in with its former title, “Lumber Capital of the World.” No two rooms are alike.

Salvaged lumber and hardware are repurposed in each guest room. Wood and metal were repurposed as headboards and other accent pieces.

Traditional Rooms

Yes, you have a choice from a Hulk or Traditional room in the City Hall Grand Hotel but the design scheme is anything but generic. Custom-made fixtures mix with the new, antique, and repurposed to create an artful atmosphere.

City Hall Grand Hotel Decorative Accents
Take note of the hand-crafted sinks and other fixtures created by Joshua Butters and other local craftsmen.
One common trait is the attention to detail and the “Origami” swan you’ll find perched upon your bed when you arrive.

Once you roll up the blinds you’ll enjoy the light that floods the room through large windows. A private toilet and shower room and a soft color palette are among the charms you’ll find in a City Hall Grand Hotel traditional room. You’ll have a mini-refrigerator and Keurig machine at your disposal.

Two of the Traditional Rooms are equipped with a Jacuzzi Tub
If soaking in a tub filled with soothing, warm bath water is your idea of relaxation, request a room with a Jacuzzi tub.

Don’t expect to find a front desk in the lobby or anywhere else at City Hall Grand Hotel. One additional feature we love is the absence of wait time when you check-in. Guests receive a payment confirmation and a key code prior to their arrival.

From the ceiling to floor, expect the unexpected elements.
One of the show-stopping architectural details is an original glass ceiling in one of the Hulk Rooms.

In a world filled with lodging options, you don’t want to miss out City Hall Grand Hotel conveniently located in downtown Williamsport at 454 Pine Street. Plan a visit for the sake of seeing this treasure or combine your stay with a trip to one of the nearby attractions. We visited Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, which led to an extraordinary video interview with founder, Clyde Peeling. The following day we set out for Rock Run for an afternoon hike to one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful array of waterfalls.

Visit http://www.cityhallgrandhotel.com to book your getaway.

Disclaimer:

My lodging was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences. Many thanks to the City Hall Grand Hotel management for the opportunity to spend two nights exploring and enjoying the hotel and Williamsport.

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Lifestyle

Join me in “The Hub”

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  • July 20, 2019
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Journalist Support Hub Membership

A Members-Only Journalist Support Hub

Created for Journalists and Travel Writers by Award-Winning Journalist Joan Mead-Matsui

Sign up today and receive the support you need to learn and grow.

Join Today!

Give your career a boost!

Discover “The Hub,” my Journalist Support Hub created to give writers the support and encouragement they need to create outstanding articles.

Learn more about the group here.

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Lifestyle Trout Fishing Northeastern Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing Weekly

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer

Sunday Chronicle

No Fish Last Week but read on…

I hope you enjoy my new weekly blog post, “Fly Fishing Weekly.”

Fly fishing is one of my all-time favorite hobbies and although it’s a life-long sport, some of the most successful anglers I know have told me it’s also a continuous learning process. Something I can teach you if you’re a new fly fisher is patience. Follow my journey here every week for tales from the water.

Several years ago, I met a seasoned angler, Jim, while I was wading in the Delaware River. Jim has fished since he was a child. I whined a bit to him that day when I was frustrated. Afterward, I was embarrassed because I know not everyone catches fish every time but I needed to let go of my negative emotions so I could move on to a more positive attitude. Letting go was one way to remove my mental barriers.

I didn’t catch anything today, I told him.

His reply, “There are weeks when I don’t catch a fish. It’s not always technique that dictates if you catch a fish. Water temperature and water level play a major role in whether the fish are biting or not. And of course, you also need to consider the fly you’re using.”

He’s correct, at least as far as I can tell. Overall, my technique has immensely improved thanks to practice, an Orvis media trip, and guidance from my fishing friends. Almost eight years into fly fishing, I can roll cast and select a fly that’s somewhat palatable to the fish. That’s a definite improvement.

Hot summer days are problematic. Wading in cool water is a fisher’s delight but the trout, notably a cold water species don’t agree.

The last time I was out on the water – yesterday – fish were rising but unfortunately, did not take any of the flies I threw out. I began with a small nymph and three to four minutes later, I discovered my hook was caught on an underwater branch or it was stuck to the side of a rock. After breaking the line free, I noticed my fly was gone.

When in doubt, I resort to my favorite flies, an elk-hair caddis pattern or a blue-winged olive. Woolly Buggers are an option but they tend to plop, rather than quietly land on the water. I’m working on casting streamers.

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer
Spring is my favorite time of year to fly fish for trout. This day was a combined fly fishing and photography trip.

Two weeks ago, I brought my oldest son along on a two-hour evening trip to the Lackawanna River, a tributary to the mighty Susquehanna River. The water level had dropped significantly from last week but fishing conditions were nearly perfect. NO FISH!

Typically, by the end of June, the water temperature has begun to rise as the rainy days of June disappear. Here we are in July, the hottest and most humid month of the year in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with a jump in our air temps to 85 to 90 degrees for several days at a time.

Joan Matsui Travel Writer Fly Fishing
The pensive look while hoping at least one trout would take the fly. Northeastern Pennsylvania has some outstanding streams and rivers.

Today, my friend Amy and I met along the Lackawanna River. Amy arrived about an hour before me and had already moved upstream from where we planned to meet. She caught three or four fish in an hour but by 10 a.m., the sun was bright and only a few shaded areas remained along the banks. We were optimistic we’d see some fish rise and we did but again, they weren’t interested in our flies. Once Amy and I commence with fishing, we don’t want to stop.

We ended our afternoon perhaps a bit discouraged but the diehard angler never completely gives in to frustration. After all, there are six more days this week.

Happy fishing to you!

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Family Products and Services Lifestyle Product Reviews

FamClub

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  • June 26, 2019
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FamClub Premium Monthly Rewards Box

Engaging Families

Subscription Service Rewards Family

Jason Bailey recognized the need for families to grow together.

But how do you arrive at that point with all the distractions parents and children face today?

Jobs, school, travel, sports, and electronics can all take their toll on family time. That’s why Jason Bailey, a South Florida resident created FamClub, a family-oriented subscription service that will delight and motivate you to reinvent family time. Jason is a father of two and a CEO of several companies. But he also recognizes how important family time is…

I agreed to test and review this service because as a parent, I remember how much my children appreciated our family time together. We fished, planted gardens, hiked, and created art projects often. When my sons became teenagers and our lives became more hectic, we struggled to find together time and keep up with chores.

FamClub’s mission is to “harness” the technology we’ve come to blame for leading us astray from playing, working, and growing together. Jason designed a subscription-based service that encourages families to set and complete goals. Premium members receive a monthly customized box that’s packed with rewards for completing their goals. Please see the assortment of gifts I received in my March, April, and May reward boxes.

FamClub Reward Box
Subscribe to FamClub and receive a monthly reward box. FamClub offers subscription options so you can choose the one that works best for you. Shown is the “Family Time’s Blooming” March Reward Box.

The items you’ll find in the rewards boxes will put a smile on your face. The first box I received contained a water bottle, egg-shaped chalk, foam football, trimming shears, puzzle, gardening gloves, and a mini clay pot with flower seeds. They’re essential ingredients for family fun and excitement that will motivate your children to work side-by-side with you. FamClub makes it incredibly simple to integrate rewards with activities you and your children will love.

FamClub Reward Box
“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” is the April themed rewards’ box.
FamClub Reward Box
“OUT OF THIS WORLD” will launch your family into another galaxy and create the ultimate space adventure. Each child and adult member registered with the FamClub receives a gift.

FamClub offers three subscription plans: Monthly, Premium, and Basic and an app allow you to sign up and track your goals while you’re mobile. Visit the app store on your mobile device to download it.

The premium subscription gives kids of all ages a reason to reach their goals.
The items in the rewards’ box will be enjoyed by young children and yes, also the teenagers.

Visit myfamclub.com to sign up.

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Fly Fishing Stories Fly Fishing Women Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Lifestyle

Fly-Fishing Friday

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  • June 14, 2019
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Fly Fishing Friday Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Adventures on the Water

Not every Friday am I able to end my work week midday but when time allows, I’ll break loose from my laptop around 3 p.m. to fly fish or hike.

They’re both two of my all-time favorite hobbies and if the conditions allow, give me a day without rain and I’ll head outdoors to appreciate the abundance of pristine water and bucolic trails and meadows we have in Pennsylvania.

We’ve had a wet spring with record precipitation but many of the days without rain have been sunny and beautiful with ample water in our streams. Today is one of those days when nature beckons me to spend time wading and foraging for trout.

From trout season opening day in April to fall, I find my local creek, which is stocked in early spring, an ideal close-to-home retreat. I’ve accumulated a collection of photos and fishing stories to share with you every Friday. Although I’m not a “selfie” fan, I have a hard drive full of fishing memories.

Let’s begin with last weekend when I strayed from my township to another local fishing hole that’s located at the confluence of two creeks. I caught a fish in the pool a few weeks ago but last week was a no-show. Even with a dense hatch after 7 p.m., not one fish rose to the surface. But it isn’t necessarily the catch that’s as important as the experience and the sound of water as it runs over rocks, birds flying overhead, and quiet time.

Actually, I’ve caught (and released) more trout since opening day than I expected. That’s the beauty of fly fishing. Seeing a trout rise to take a dry fly, quickly and safely removing the hook from its mouth and gently returning it to the water is what attracted me to fly fishing.

I’d welcome fly-fishing-related questions and comments here or on my social media platforms. Let me know your favorite creek, river, or lake or share your fishing tips with my readers.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you live.

Joan Mead-Matsui

Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Matsui Travel Writer

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Hawley Lodging Historic hotels Lifestyle Pennsylvania Historic Hotels Pocono Mountains Lodging Settlers Hospitality Group

LEDGES HOTEL

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  • June 5, 2019
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Ledges Hotel Lodging Dining

Historic Hotel – Modern Luxury

There are no bad views from the windows at the Ledges Hotel – whether you’re looking in or out.

Ledges Hotel Window View
The Settlers Hospitality Group offers its guests a year-round view of the waterfalls and gorge alongside Ledges hotel. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Each Settlers Hospitality Group property has its own unique story. The group’s five restored lodging options are nothing short of architectural gems redesigned with the Genzlinger family’s flair and commitment to respectful preservation.

Ledges Hotel suites offer a glance at the property before you set out to see property on foot.
The architects and designers planned the project so the grounds and interior compliment one another.

Seeing is believing.

Jeanne and Grant Genzlinger, with the help of architects, specifically, the world-renown Bohlin Cywinski Jackson team, renovated the property with a highly-focused vision that allowed them to effectively incorporate the natural landscape and the nearby community’s history, antiquity, and charm with their adaptive-reuse initiative. Custom-designed furniture is the finishing touch to the impeccably stylish decor.

Repurposing historic buildings is a mission Settlers’ co-founders, Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger set out to accomplish more than 30 years ago when they bought Settlers Inn, an art and craft-style hotel that sits along Main Street Hawley. Ledges Hotel is one of five properties owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group.

Whether you enter the property from Route 6 or the lower end, through a series of side streets, you’ll immediately realize why the hotel’s name, Ledges, is appropriate.

Ledges Hotel is a perfect fit for guests who come to Hawley, Pennsylvania to engage in a variety of activities you’ll only find in a historically rich town. Antique and other specialty shops, restaurants and diners, and businesses line the streets in downtown Hawley. The Genzlinger family has worked tirelessly to make your overall experience engaging, active, authentic, and educational and their efforts are far-reaching. Co-founder Grant Genzlinger works with other local business owners and organizations to broaden the array of recreational opportunities available to visitors.

Originally constructed as a home to the John S. O’Connor Glass Factory, Ledges Hotel sits adjacent to a series of waterfalls that drain into a tree-lined gorge. The property is worthy of mention in itself, set adjacent to massive rock ledges and Paupack High Falls. They’re a wonder you won’t want to miss.

Now IS the Ideal Time to Visit

If you want to experience the Wallenpaupack Creek as it gushes over the natural stone ledges into the river gorge, now is the perfect time to plan a Ledges Hotel weekend getaway. Record rainfall has allowed the waterfalls to flow non-stop with the sight and sounds of cascading water. The landscape is quite beautiful at any time of the year but the steady progression of blossoms and ever-changing scenery are all part of the overall beauty of a Northeastern Pennsylvania spring.

If you yearn for a day on the water, plan to spend a few hours in or by the scenic Lackawaxen River, a 31.3-mile-long tributary of the Delaware River.  Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities to fish or launch their canoes and kayaks. If water sports are not your first choice for entertainment, Ledges is close to hiking and cycling trails, restaurants, churches, shops, and other services guests might want.

Ledges Hotel window view
Sunlight floods the sitting area on the first floor of the two-story suites.

The view from the first and second floors of my one-bedroom two-story suite can be enjoyed while lounging on the hotel’s custom-designed furniture or soaking in the Japanese-style soaking tub.

Ledges Hotel Master Bathroom
One and two-bedroom two-story suites feature a spiral staircase that leads to a spacious master bathroom complete with a Japanese-style soaking tub and open shower stall with a rainfall showerhead.
Ledges Hotel custom-designed furniture
When bedtime arrives, the second-floor master suite is a heavenly reprieve perfect for a sound sleep.

DINE IN AT “GLASS”

“Glass” wine. bar. kitchen is Ledges Hotel’s on-site restaurant and a popular gathering space for local residents and guests who want to listen to live music while dining al fresco alongside the waterfalls and gorge. The chef created a variety of small plate dishes that are perfect for sharing and late night fare.

(I ordered the tasty Seared Ahi Tuna, Shiso sesame crusted, jicama apple slaw, and sweet onion dashi with a side of crispy Brussels Sprouts).

Dining Ledges Hotel
When staying close to your room appeals to you, Ledges Hotel offers a dining option that allows you to appreciate the scenery while enjoying a chef-prepared menu that’ll impress beyond words.

The outstanding accommodations, landscaped grounds, and gracious hotel staff make this the quintessential choice for a wedding or special occasion venue. Visit https://ledgeshotel.com/hotel for more information.

Ledges Hotel, built in 1890, is a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2013.

Disclaimer

Throughout the year, I cover a variety of properties from historic hotels to fishing lodges. Rest assured, my trips were comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.

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Lifestyle

The Settlers Inn

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  • May 17, 2019
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The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring summer and fall

Connecting Communities

Settlers Hospitality Group Immersed in History

(All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted).

Settlers Inn
The Settlers Inn is owned and operated by Settlers Hospitality Group. You’ll find breathtaking gardens throughout the property and individualized guest rooms with outstanding comfort.

My recent visits to two immensely 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.

Settlers Inn main course
Cravings…we all have them. The Settlers Inn chef adds his touch to dinner options that are as delightful to see as they to eat.

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.

At first glance, you’ll understand why Grant has built his life around the hospitality industry. 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.

The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring summer and fall
The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring, summer, and fall.

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.

What is Grant’s favorite property? Suffice to say, the mere mention of any of the company’s trendsetting accommodations brings a smile to his face and a willingness to discuss in detail the cuisine, decor, history, and restoration. You can learn more about Grant Genzlinger in a series of interviews I had with Grant while I was a guest at the Settlers Inn.

Settlers Inn Custom-Designed Guest Rooms
The Settlers Inn guest rooms are all one-of-a-kind and surrounded by antiques and collectibles selected to blend seamlessly with the decor.

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 guest rooms
Guests can expect a guest room that speaks of yesteryear with modern conveniences.

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. Nightly specials offered throughout the year range from fish and seafood to meat and pasta. Dinner reservations are recommended.

Settlers Inn menu
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Saint Germain des Prés

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  • May 1, 2019
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Oldest Paris Church Restoration

Must-See Paris Architecture

An Interview with David Sheppe, American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés (AFPSGP) director.


“Just go. Go and visit the church and you will be able to see now what the works have accomplished and what they will provide in terms of linking us to the past and the future in ways that surpass our ability to merely explain in words here.” David Sheppe

David Sheppe leads United States fundraising efforts to restore Saint Germain des Pres, the oldest Paris church. Photo submitted.
David Sheppe is leading the current “Adopt A Saint Germain Star™ Campaign in the United States. The AFPSGP is a 501(c)(3) charity devoted to United States fundraising efforts that support the Saint Germain des Prés church restoration project that began in 2012.
Read my interview with David to learn more about the organization’s collaboration with its French counterparts, The Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés Foundation.

“The church is today in serious need of renovation and restoration owing to the ravages of time, use, and under-funding.” David Sheppe

Q & A Interview with David Sheppe
What is the history of the Saint Germain des Pres?

There has been a church or abbey on the same spot in central Paris since the founding of Saint Germain des Près by Childebert, son of Clovis, the first Frankish King, in 543 AD. The current structure is one thousand years old, which makes SGP . Today, it remains a vibrant parish and community in the heart of Paris’s most resonant neighborhood.

Two previous church structures were destroyed by Viking and other raiders in the eighth and ninth centuries. The current church, finished in 1014 AD, is unique in France as it is an amalgam of Romanesque architecture and multiple pre-Gothic and Gothic influences.

For many centuries SGP was the home to the Benedictine order of monks who were renowned for their religious and secular scholarship and who was instrumental in the founding of the Sorbonne in the 13th century. The church was the site of the publication of the first Bible in French (as opposed to Latin) and became a center of publication and research during the entirety of the High Middle Ages in France.

During the French Revolution, the church was shuttered and then transformed into a gunpowder storage building by anti-clerical revolutionaries. Anti-clericalism reached its apogee in 1792 when 102 priests were massacred in one of the church’s side chapels. Shortly thereafter, the gunpowder storage room blew up and much of the surrounding Abbey and part of the church was destroyed.

Victor Hugo was instrumental in saving the church from being razed by the city authorities in the early 19th century and was the driving force to a major renovation undertaken soon thereafter. Another renovation was undertaken in the 1830s and 1840s – the last renovation before the project now underway in our time. A key contribution to the restoration in the 1840s was the work of Hippolyte Flandrin, who painted a series of massive murals lining both sides of the nave that are now undergoing significant restoration work. 

Much of the current church is original and there are several vestigial pieces of the ancient predecessor churches dating back more than 15 centuries. There are two original stain glassed windows in the church that are 800 years old and have survived endless imprecations and assaults over time. (Two further original stained glass windows are in the United States – one at the MOMA in NY and the other in the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore.)

In 1860, the church was granted full Monument Historique classification and is therefore provided with full landmark preservation status. The church is today in serious need of renovation and restoration owing to the ravages of time, use, and under-funding. 85% of the budget for renovations must come from public hands as, quite simply, the City of Paris (which owns the structure) does not have sufficient funds to meet restoration needs of all churches in its care.

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Saint Germain des Pres is undergoing a restoration project that is expected to be completed in 2021 or 2022.
Southern Sanctuary — Photo © Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier. All rights reserved.

The current restoration project was launched in 2012 and, funding permitting should be completed in 2021 or 2022. The French fundraising committee and American Friends for the Preservation of SGP are working in extremely close cooperation.

(For a short and useful overview of the church history, see Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés on Wikipedia.)

Please describe the location, neighborhood, and visualizations of how the church blends in with its surroundings.

The church is and has always been, the central defining monument and lifeforce for an entire neighborhood which, uniquely in France, was named for the church (rather than the usual other way around). It remains by design the tallest building in the neighborhood and stands like a shepherd over the comings and goings of flocks of the faithful and many, many tourists and lovers of Paris.

The SGP neighborhood is ancient and remains today at the intellectual heart of the city, surrounded as it is by great numbers of art galleries, publishing houses, museums (including the Academy Française and the École des Beaux Arts), world class restaurants and cozy cafes, bookstores, movie houses, and venues for music both classical and modern. 

Why was the church slated for restoration? What are the restoration team’s goals?

The church is not in danger of falling down. Notwithstanding that, there has been in the 170 years since the last restoration an incredible degradation of artistic and architectural elements at SGP – mostly, but not exclusively, on the inside of the church. The works are proceeding by tranches and are about 60 percent complete, but funding for the remaining 40 percent is not in hand. We need to raise further dollars to ensure timely and integral completion of the project.

Who are the architect-of-record, project manager, primary and secondary funding sources for the project, construction manager, interior designers (if applicable), and anyone else who has had a significant role in the restoration?

The renovation project is being conducted by and on behalf of the City of Paris, the owner of the church. More specifically, the project falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Department of Historic Monuments. The master Preservation Architect in Chief is Pierre Antoine-Gatier of Historic Monuments department. 

Please explain how this restoration differs from a renovation.

The dividing line can be subtle, an exercise in shades of gray. Notre Dame was, and now is owing to the fire, in full restoration mode because its outside physical envelope is in need of serious repair and replacement to preserve the integrity of the structure.

At SGP, the outside structure – though not in flawless form and thus in need of attention – is in reasonably good shape. (Exceptions abound however and will be the object of attentive work in the years ahead). Most of the current SGP project is devoted to (a) restoring architectural elements which have been damaged or depredated to the point of existential threat and (b) renovating artworks (of all kinds: in stone, in woodworks, in painted and sculptural works) to bring them back to their original form and sheen. So, the SGP project is a painstaking marriage of both renovation and restoration.

Why is the art in this church worth the time, effort, and cost to restore?

The SGP church is a unique and iconic example of Romanesque architecture. It houses world-class art and stained glass and sculptural works. It is the site of ancient and ongoing scholarship and research. It is the oldest church in Paris. It is universally recognized and universally loved. Proof of this is that so many people from all over the world have contributed and will continue to contribute to the restoration and renovation of this irreplaceable element of world patrimony. It has a secular and religious history which thrills and inspires. It is ethereally beautiful. It is a living church today, with many outreach programs in Paris, in France and around the world. Its music program is incomparable. Its thousand-year-old bells sound the hours today as they have for over 10 centuries.

What was your first impression of the church?

My own first impression was that this place, this church, speaks to fundamental questions of the relationship of man to his beginnings and to his future. It is an intimate church, not overpowering. It whispers where others shout. After 15 centuries of history, we have received this church in trust and we are determined to pass it on and into the next 15 centuries of living history and inspiration.

How is the project funded?

As mentioned, the City of Paris owns the church and has provided 15 percent of the overall funding for the project. The remaining 85 percent of the cost will be borne by private hands – individuals in the main, many donors of small amounts in the main – from all over the world. The entire project has been priced out at approximately $7 million. Of the 60 percent of monies raised to date, some 40 percent has been raised in the United States. Currently, we are running low on funds and much more needs to be done.

What are a few of the setbacks, if any, the team has encountered and is the project moving along according to schedule?

It is particularly satisfying to note that the project is currently on time and on budget – a remarkable achievement for this kind of project. Again, our financial resources are today at a low ebb, so we need to redouble our efforts to reach friends of the church, of Paris and her history, and of the project to respectfully ask for additional support. Every dollar donated is a precious gift, hugely needed and immensely appreciated.

When you think of the finished restoration, what do you visualize?

The child is a father to the man. The works completed to date are breathtaking, extraordinarily beautiful and inspirational. And they suggest just how amazing the church will be when finally finished in 2021 or 2022. So, the best answer to this question is: just go. Go and visit the church and you will be able to see now what the works have accomplished and what they will provide in terms of linking us to the past and the future in ways that surpass our ability to merely explain in words here.

Is the church open now or closed to the public during restoration?

The church is now open and will remain so during all renovation works. There is no admission charge (except for during regular organ and classical music concerts, very well attended by locals and tourists alike). Some of the current works are cordoned off by scaffolding, ropes, plastic tarps, and the like, but these are extremely localized. The completed works and the areas to undergo future works are all fully available to all who come – so do go.1

How does the church plan to celebrate the grand opening or the completion of the project?

There is no definitive plan as to how the finalized project will be celebrated in two or three years. That said, last year, at the end of the third tranche (of seven), the City of Paris held a gala evening of thanksgiving and celebration under the direction of the Mayor of Paris who was there that evening. It was a night for the ages, grandiose and filled with meaning and vibrancy. Something similar will occur when all is done. It just remains to be seen what will be planned.

For a full view of the works completed to date and the works slated for completion in the years ahead, you can review the renovation catalog on our website.

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