CARBONDALE – In keeping with the area’s rich coal heritage, the Carbondale Grand Hotel will reopen in May as the Hotel Anthracite.

Late last year, two well-known NEPA businessmen – Justin Genzlinger of the Settlers Hospitality Group and Rob Grimm of Grimm Construction -- partnered to buy the struggling five-year old hotel on Main Street. Under the new banner, “The Hotel Anthracite will better reflect the style and character of the area and its inherent history,” said Chris Simpler, Executive General Manager and Director of Hotel Operations.

“The most noticeable and immediate change will be in the site’s new style. The former style of the overall site was likened more to what is fairly standard or boilerplate for most hotels. It wasn’t really something that a guest would think of as being exceptional, something that they’d take back as a special memory from their visit here,” commented Simpler. “And the former hotel just didn’t have the feel and cultural representation of this area and its wonderful history and heritage.

“Carbondale and this whole area have been experiencing a resurgence as a great place to visit and spend time,” added Simpler.

“Reopening as the Hotel Anthracite, we’re creating a new degree of comfort and luxury. Guests will not only have a strong sense of this area’s richness, they’ll definitely remember the whole of their experience and the time spent at the hotel. The makeover we’re doing will make the trip worthwhile for our guests, and they’ll look forward to coming back again and again.” Since the mid-November changeover, the newly bannered hotel, restaurant, and banquet facilities will remain open for business throughout the renovation period.

As reflected by reproduced vintage photos and graphics throughout the lobby and common areas, guests will feel as if they are stepping back in time to when Carbondale and the area were born and coal was king. Situated just off the lobby, the Canary Café (accented with live canaries) will offer a relaxed gathering space where guests can stop by to enjoy light fare and relax over their newspaper. The exterior courtyard landscaping will be refreshed and enhanced. And the adjacent 500-seat grand ballroom is also experiencing some aesthetic changes, while it will still remain functional to comfortably accommodate smaller groups when divided into two smaller spaces. The 61 guest rooms with king-sized and double-queen-sized rooms on the hotel’s upper three floors are also being upgraded, featuring new bedding and decor and room amenities that, as Simpler believes, “will tell our guests that staying at the Hotel Anthracite was well worth the trip.”

Derived from the word coal and aptly renamed the Kol Steakhouse, the hotel’s new dining room is undergoing major changes. “While we’re doing fresh, new, and decorative upgrades to make the dining room more posh, comfortable, and welcoming for our guests, the new restaurant will also feature price points for great pub fare and the tastiest and best cuts of steak available,” said Simpler. “Under the direction of our Food and Beverage Manager, Ralph DelPrete, and our on-site chef Jose Pillot, the Kol Steakhouse will also feature all homemade breads and desserts from the Mill Market Bakery in Hawley. For weeks now, we’ve been actively trying out various menu options and recipes to see what our guests want and like. So we’re test-piloting the new dishes by asking diners to share their comments with us.”

Intending to present the Hotel Anthracite as “more of a marketplace with a nicer setting and world-class service,” Simpler emphasized that “we’re not creating a hotel just for out-of-town guests. We want to ensure a strong connection to and with the community. The local folks also deserve to be treated well, and I’m confident and excited that they’ll find more bang for their buck when they come in.

“In line with this, we’re also working on offering more creative options at the hotel that will feature such things as mid-week and weekend entertainment. We’ll literally have something to entice everyone,” said Simpler. “The schedule already includes a variety of live soloists and duos who’ll perform in the dining room and bar areas, along with a variety of comedy nights and continuance of the already popular roof-top summer music events. Our updated marketing efforts include working with the local Chamber to coordinate things like bus tours and seasonal events. We’re already fostering great relationships with neighboring businesses and creating partnerships with them, and we’re getting the word out down the line about our plans.

“This hotel is a center point in Carbondale -- offering dining, lodging, and entertainment for everyone in and around town,” he continued. “It’s an under-utilized asset, with a half-million people within 45 minutes of the city. If we do a good job here, we’ll attract not only our local residents and businesses, but it will bring new people into the area. We want to develop more of an abundance mentality, not a scarcity mentality. Our overall goal is to create something very special right here in Carbondale.”

Since 1980, the Hawley-based Settlers Hospitality Group has become well known throughout the area for their marketing efforts and strong skills in developing and maintaining respected dining and lodging facilities. With more than 40 years in the hotel and restaurant industry, among some of the ventures run by the Settlers Hospitality Group are the Settlers Inn and Silver Birches Resort, Ledges Hotel and the dock on Wallenpaupack, along with the Cocoon Coffee House and the

“Each of the hotel’s investors knows this area and its heritage and the importance of keeping it alive and thriving. And the Settlers Group does hospitality for a living. We know what we’re doing here, and we’re working hard to do everything right,” said Simpler.