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, 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.
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.
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.
“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 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
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?”
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.