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Hotel Anthracite: Every Detail Tells a Story

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  • November 5, 2018
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Hotel Anthracite outdoor dining

Settlers Hospitality Group Salutes Carbondale’s Heritage

Hotel Anthracite: Carbondale’s Past Revisited

Every piece of art that adorns the walls throughout the Hotel Anthracite tells a story. 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 Carbondale, Pennsylvania’s rich coal mining and cultural history.

Hotel Anthracite - Kol Steakhouse
You won’t find stock photos on any of the walls at the Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale’s newest hotel. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Unwavering Service

Hotel Anthracite, The Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, Silver Birches Resort, and Sayre Mansion are all owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group, an award-winning hospitality company based in Hawley, Pennsylvania. The company’s goal is to provide their guests with a one-of-a-kind tribute to the heritage that surrounds each of its properties. I was a hotel guest at two of the group’s properties: Hotel Anthracite and Silver Birches Resorts and also treated to a fantastic full breakfast at The Settlers Inn.  The message is consistent – 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 and features as he sat across the table from me during our lunch in KOL Steakhouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant. As I sampled the OUTSTANDING Baby Greens and Quinoa Salad, topped with grilled chicken that was drizzled with a Champagne Blood Orange Vinaigrette, Simpler delved deeper into why guests will travel to stay and dine at the hotel. You’ll read more about the food details later in this article but suffice to say, the hotel has covered all the bases with style, creativity, and artistry.

Hotel Anthracite outdoor dining
Take your romantic dinner or gathering outdoors on the patio. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Simpler was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and 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.

Indoor-Outdoor Connection

Jeanne Genzlinger, the matriarch of the Settlers Inn family was the main designer and the neutral color palette she selected 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. The decor is the best of all worlds because as you enter the Hotel Anthracite, you’ll find historical charm effortlessly blended with modern amenities guests expect. Take note of the large chunks of official anthracite coal on display in the Hotel Anthracite lobby and the photos of the Gravity Railroad and its first locomotive, “The Stourbridge Lion.” They’re your cue that 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.

Carbondale Anthracite Coal History
Towering Anthracite Coal immediately shine a light on Carbondale’s anthracite history. Photo courtesy of Hotel Anthracite.

Finishing Touches

Hotel Anthracite Carbondale
One of my favorite guest room features is the view overlooking one of Carbondale’s neighborhoods.

“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.

Hotel Anthracite Renovation
All rooms were recently redesigned to provide guests with all new furnishings and linens.
Hotel Anthracite business traveler
Business travelers can count on high-speed internet and an efficient work area.
Hotel Anthracite lodging
If rest is at the top of your list after sightseeing and other outdoor activities, the beds are dressed in super-soft sheets and a down-alternative comforter.

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 consequently, delivers a high-quality package. In the guest rooms, for example, guests will find all-new beds, topped with standard and king-sized pillows, towels, linens, curtains, and new sofas.   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

Hotel Anthracite menu
Add a slice or two of protein to your Baby Greens and Quinoa salad and you’re good to go.

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 is seasoned with aromatic basil and arranged with tomatoes, balsamic, asparagus, and accompanied by creamy risotto. I said “NO” to dessert because my palette was content. My meal was a perfect-sized portion and 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 fresh, local beer on tap or in the bottle? Come to Kōl Steakhouse and quench your thirst.  The bar is stocked with a variety of liquor and chances are if you have a particular mixed drink concoction in mind, the bartender will be able to accommodate your hankering.

“You need to deliver something more – a new experience,” is Simpler’s philosophy.

View sample menus here.

“What will you do in Carbondale?”

Hotel Anthracite Carbondale
Once the weather in Carbondale turns chilly, you’ll find lodging guests and diners relaxing near the fireplace in Hotel Anthracite’s lobby. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

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 is known for its 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. Aside from walking, cycling, and cross-country skiing,  Elk Mountain Ski Resort undoubtedly has a trail for you, whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier. 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. Hotel Anthracite is a small-town treasure in Northeastern Pennsylvania and a base camp to explore a revitalized region with so much history and culture.

 

My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my personal experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

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  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

MEET THE RESIDENTS

Laugh and Learn With Your Family

Visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park residents take every opportunity to entertain visitors. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Prepare to fall in love with the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. You’ll never see the same scene if you visit the wildlife park one or 50 times . A personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, educational programs for all ages, and a picnic lunch together in the concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias can all be woven seamlessly into your visit.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari
Board the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour to meet the animals who roam on 165 acres.

If you’re a parent, you already know children grow up in a heartbeat. Savor those moments with your kids and reserve a day to visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Halifax, Pennsylvania. If your children are grown and you miss those carefree afternoons at the zoo, you too should plan a visit. The wildlife park  is reminiscent of an old-fashioned zoo I came to know in Northeastern Pennsylvania as a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the former Nay Aug Park Zoo operated on a much smaller scale, weekly visits to the petting zoo and main park building cultivated a love and respect for animals that has grown stronger over the years.

I’m so pleased the Tobias family chose to carry on the tradition of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park with affordable family engagement and hands-on learning. You can thank J.R. Tobias for his vision and diligence that has spanned more than 50 years. Although this wildlife park dates back to 1965 on a tract of land where J.R. Tobias was born and raised, numerous expansion and renovations have enabled the Tobias family to continue their father’s dream by enhancing the park’s offerings and highlighting a variety of wild and exotic animals. The most notable improvements have occurred in the last 15 years with several new additions: custom-designed, expanded habitats for the tigers and black bears, African lion and baboon facility,  custom-designed Reptile and Exotics’ facility, food service areas, relocated and expanded Safari Station, J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center, and the opening of a giraffe exhibit. Plans for additional exhibits are also in the works.

J.R. Tobias Family owners
Jan Tobias-Kieffer is one of J.R. Tobias’ seven children who have chosen to carry on the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park tradition. Jan is shown inside the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. 

J.R.’s daughter, Jan Tobias-Kieffer, said the wildlife park was a hobby her father could fall back on in his retirement. J.R. Tobias died in 1996 but his wife, Pauline, still lives in the homestead and six of the couple’s seven children and a grandson own and manage the wildlife park. Immediately, upon your entry into the park, you’ll notice the special care given to all the animals. They’re highly-socialized creatures that are genuinely happy to mingle with park guests. 

“My father always had a fascination with animals.” ~Jan Tobias-Kieffer

 

 

 

Meet the animals in person as I did on Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, during my tour of the park. The park was at the top of my list of Harrisburg-Hershey attractions. I brought my life-long friend, Pennye Rosenfeld-Weinstein along to share in the fun. 

After dashing from my car to pick up our tickets at the Safari Station, we bought a large bag of popcorn to take with us to feed the animals we met on the safari. We made our way to the front of the line (yes, we cut in front of other visitors) so I could photograph Lenny, the Emu, classified as second-largest living bird by height and native to Australia.  Lenny was a mooch, to say the least. 

Exotic Animals Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lenny, the Emu, didn’t waste any time when he knew popcorn was awaiting him at the gate. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Be prepared to greet the animals up close and personal at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
Thousands of children each year meet and greet the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their interaction allows them to learn more about an animal’s lifestyle and feeding habits. Lenny the Emu is an example of the pleasure children derive from a visit to the wildlife park.
Lenny, the Emu
Lenny spends his days hanging around by the Safari Station while waiting for guests to share their snacks.

(Recommendation: Don’t tempt Lenny or any other animal with food other than what is sold at the Safari Station and intended for the animals. Inquire at the Safari Station Snack Shop.)

Watch this documentary and learn the history of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. The film was produced by Rutan Productions company and provided courtesy of Chip Rutan.

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
The fleet of safari cruisers are ready for the crowds that visit Lake Tobias every year. Adventure-seekers can opt in for the 45-minute safari tour by purchasing tickets at the welcome center.

Our personal tour guide stopped numerous times along the Safari trail to allow visitors an opportunity to snap photos and greet and feed the animals. A fleet of “chop-top” safari cruisers are available to accommodate visitors who arrive at the park each year. You’ll find the hours of operation and directions to the park here.

Allow ample time to visit each of the exhibits at the park. The African Lion, American Alligator, American Black Bear, Asian Water Buffalo, Bengal Tiger, Burmese Python, Capybara, De Brazza, Monkey, Dromedary Camel, East African Crowned Crane, Eland, European Fallow Deer, Gemsbok, Grant’s Zebra, Green Tree Python, Marmoset, North American Bison, Ostrich, Peacock, Red Kangaroo, Rhea, Suri Alpaca, Tamarins, Two-Toed Tree Sloth, and the Watusi are among the animals you’ll find throughout the park. Each tour guide is well-trained and educated with an abundance of knowledge about the animals roaming the 150-acre countryside. Ask questions and expand your knowledge.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Safari
Ah, they were waiting to greet us as the tour guide navigated the safari bus along the straight and narrow trail.
Llamas and Alpacas Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Don’t worry, “I won’t spit on you. I’m looking for attention.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Bison Buffalo
“We’re relaxing and not inclined to get up to greet you but thanks for stopping by today.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
“I wait for the corn treats. They’re my favorite.”

The Reptiles and Exotics Facility

Are you skittish about reptiles? The Reptiles and Exotics Facility is where you can work on your fear. If not, move on to the lizards, tortoises, tropical birds, lemurs, tamarins, and the sloth who was particularly active during my visit. Check the schedule for an educational demonstration that will round out a perfect day at the park.

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE FRIENDS I MADE AT THE PARK.

where to see a sloth?
When the sloth is active, you’ll see him make his way up and down the branches.
Two Toed Tree Sloth
“Thanks for hanging around today. It’s a pleasure to meet and entertain you.”
Giant Tortoise
The crowd had time to study the GIANT Tortoise.
American Alligator Photo Information
Professional handlers and educators run the educational demonstrations held throughout the day.

(RECOMMENDATION: Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables along the lake. You can purchase food at The Hub Refreshment Stand, the Grille & Grub and the Chill Zone in the center of the park or the new Safari Station snack shop or bring your own lunch.)

As the self-sustaining, family-owned Lake Tobias Wildlife Park continues to grow and attract more than 170,000 visitors each season, my readers should also be aware that this enduring and charming entity relies strictly on park revenue to feed the animals and support its educational and building programs. I know you’ll also feel the love and respect that emanates from each exhibit. As for J.R. Tobias’ children, who’ve never known a life without their animals, Jan told me she is grateful to be a part of her father’s calling.

She noted, “We always thought it (growing up in a park) was normal for us – peacocks yelling in your bedroom window, whereas our friends thought this was really cool. For us, it was an everyday thing,” Jan said.

 

 

 

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located at 760 Tobias Road, Halifax, Pa. For updated hours or other information, call 717-362-9126 Mon., to Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email info@laketobias.com.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

DISCLAIMER:

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

 

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Ribeiro: Small Business Resource Powerhouse

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  • July 19, 2018
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Gabriella Ribeiro spearheads The Mogul Mom, an online resource mompreneurs rely on for support and advice.

Meet Gabriella Ribeiro

A Small Business Resource Powerhouse

Ribiero is “The Mogul Mom” editor-in-chief and the woman at the helm of a thriving crusade. She offers mompreneurs ultrapractical daily challenges, advice, tips, and support as they forge their paths through the triumphs and trials working moms often face. She and her team are celebrating 11 years of outstanding success in 2018. If you have additional questions after reading my information-packed email interview with Ribeiro, feel free to contact her via this link or complete the form below and I’ll get answers for you.

What led you to develop The Mogul Mom site and the services you currently offer? Specifically, what are your services?

I acquired it actually back in January of this year. The previous owner is an amazing friend and a true mentor and she was ready to transition and wanted it to land in the hands of someone who could really take it forward. I am honored she passed the baton to me! We are the world’s premier site and community for dynamic women with sparkle who are raising a family, running a business and rocking both. Some members have aspirations of launching their own business so we have a vast amount of resources to help anyone in that space as well.

What words do you believe best describe your role with The Mogul Mom?

I am here to empower, motivate, inspire and share, but most of all to LISTEN to our members and help them in any way possible. I also truly enjoy connecting members to one another so they can build meaningful relationships. If I’ve accomplished all of that, I know I have succeeded in my vision.

What is your background and how does your experience enhance your ability to motivate women to succeed?

I’ve always been a self-starter, I think that came from having an entrepreneurial father and seeing him be able to fix just about any situation while building a business based on natural-born intelligence. I also saw hard times so I believe that helped me shape my vision of how a business should be run, how to be conservative and how to grow within one’s means.  Now that I am a mom, a single one at that, running three businesses, I am living the life I am helping people figure out every single day and that helps build trust. People see me being able to enjoy business success but also dealing with the day to day struggles we all do as moms, juggling schedules, negotiating, dividing and balancing time so that everyone who needs you gets your full attention including your work and when I share that, it brings me closer to the amazing women in the community and it helps to show them this all is possible. It isn’t easy, but it is absolutely possible.

How do your challenges motivate women and what are some of the challenges you’ve created?

I am always brutally honest and open about my own stories- my challenges, my struggles, my wins and my aspirations- I think that opening myself up and letting them know that beyond anything, I have been where they have been in so many regards. I have gone through a pathway myself to building businesses and creating a unique life that fuses my passions so the challenges are meant to be motivational but not authoritative, more so like a strong pair of hands on one’s back propelling someone forward while they are using their own movement as well. We’ve done a “30 Days To Your Best Self” challenge which really had our members examining their headspace, their happiness quotients, their goals, their current network vs the network they strive to have, body image, self-care, and wellness. In the end, I heard so many amazing stories about members really taking the time to think about things they usually try to ignore or put off and it has made a difference in their vision. We’re currently into a Healthy Eating challenge which hopefully is inspiring members to make great choices that work for their individual lifestyle, their body type and also to meld the head with the heart when making choices that are best for their overall life.

I’ve noticed you offer travel advice and tips. What is your role in the travel industry and how/why does travel play a part in a woman’s overall success?

I have two businesses that deal with different segments of the travel industry. One handles sales and creative marketing for hotels and destinations and the other curates unique immersive journeys for travelers that leave a footprint on their soul. Travel is, and always has been my passion so I worked hard to fuse it into business ideas to create a life that thrills me and that I truly love.  I really enjoy pushing people out of their comfort zone and with the journey planning, I get to do that. Now, with The Mogul Mom, I’m doing it for people in a different way, by helping them explore their passions and encouraging them to push themselves to develop the career and the life they have always dreamed of.

Tell me about your accolades, awards, and recognition you’ve received from the media. Do you work with magazines and/or other media to get the word out about The Mogul Mom? Where have you been featured to date?

The Mogul Mom has been so fortunate to have been mentioned in amazing publications and to have been endorsed by some wonderful thought leaders. However, what I am finding now is that the best publicity we ever could hope to receive is the wonderful word of mouth support we get from the members of our community who bring dynamic women into the network and help it grow. At the end of the day, we’re only as good as the level to which we serve our audience so right now my focus truly is on the user experience.  That being said though, we are continuing that trend moving forward with fantastic interviews with thought leaders in various industries that have really also gotten behind us to endorse us and there are some great media hits on the horizon – watch this space!

Visit themogulmom.com to sign up for Ribeiro’s newsletter

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A Tourist App You Need

  • By
  • January 8, 2018
New Tourist App Launch

Tourist APP launched

Tour The “Big Apple” or other major cities EFFORTLESSLY

 

New Tourist App Launch

 

Tourist App, a marketplace where tourists can find tour guides on demand and in real time, has already launched in New York City.

If you have plans to visit New York, this new app will allow you to explore the city with someone who knows it intimately.

That’s correct. Imagine hundreds of tour guides at your disposal. Tourist App democratizes the travel and tour guide industry by providing a marketplace for tourists and tour guides to connect using their geolocation and instantaneous mobile payments.

How does it work?

It’s a simple process. A tourist requests a tour and a tour guide responds to the query. After a virtual handshake is established, the parties agree to meet and venture on a tour of the city.

Wish for a tour at any time while in any major city and you shall have it. The app uses notifications and voice-enabled chat for the tourist and tour guide to come together and there’s no need for advanced bookings, fitting into group tours, or travel insurance. Both parties are vetted using payment authentication and the tour guide ratings.

You can learn more about the app or download and install it at http://TouristNewApp.com or search “Tourist New App” at Apple’s App or Google’s Play stores.

 

 

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