Story and photos by Sharon King Hoge
Marriott Syracuse Hotel
While fancy contemporary resorts and spas are proliferating around the world, for an enjoyable return to the elegance and nostalgia of the good old days, check into the newly "rescued" grand hotel of Syracuse, New York. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon all experienced past splendors of the Hotel Syracuse which dates from 1924. Allowed to deteriorate, it was literally brought back to life by a local group which has spent $76 million dollars reviving it, in a transformation spearheaded by Syracuse home town architect Bill Reilly, who had previously overseen renovation of the Fairfax in DC, San Francisco's Claremont, and the Biltmore in Phoenix. Rechristened the Marriott Syracuse Hotel, Syracuse's grand dowager is once again a luxury lodging.
Approaching the handsome reception desk to check in, look up to see the Carl Roters mural depicting scenes of the city's distinguished history -- the salt trade, Erie Canal boats, city fathers, abolitionists, feminists, laborers. The lobby which rises up one level from the street is adorned with 10-foot columns, terrazzo floors, and a balcony with handsome bronze railings. Coffee is served here in the morning, and on weekend evenings Phil Markert plays tunes from the American songbook at the grand piano situated in front of the Cavalier bar. All day it's pleasant to join other guests relaxing at the tables or in comfortable lobby sofas and chairs.
Led to your room, half the doors you pass don't operate -- anymore. Originally each room's servidor opened to a space which allowed guests to leave dirty laundry or shoes in a space where they could be accessed and returned to the room without disturbing the occupants. Entering through the actual door, guests find a roomy space informally sectioned into three living areas: along one wall is the king size bed, in the middle a desk which can serve as a table. A sectional sofa occupies the far end of the room beside a club chair and coffee table. Clothing can be stored in a handsome wall cabinet custom fitted by the famous local furniture firm Stickley & Audi Co. The soothing gray decor echoes the palette of historic photos on the walls.
In the roomy marble bathroom a long console provides plenty of room to spread out your toiletries, and facing it is a large rain bath shower. A partition separates the commode from the washing area. High-speed internet, a large pivoting television screen, a coffee machine are provided. "Fresh Bites" room service arrives not on trays but in designer shopping bags.
Still a work in progress, (there are plans for a steakhouse, coffee shop, and restoration of the "Rainbow Room") dining options are snacks in the Cavalier Bar off the lobby or the sophisticatedly cheery Eleven Waters Restaurant on the ground floor serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Besides the morning buffet its menu offers sandwiches, entrees, and salads. I tried a deconstructed Cobb salad, followed with a very tasty slice of pumpkin cheesecake. Adjacent to the eating area, the Eleven Waters Bar occupies what was once the hotel barbershop. Faucets from the barbers' sinks and the original tile floor have been retained as wall decorations and guests can order custom cocktails: the Buzz Cut, Clean Shave, Blue Barbershop.
Many other original "treasures," revealed when temporary partitions and acoustic tiles were torn out, were recaptured into magnificent public spaces. The first floor Persian Terrace, once a gentlemen's supper club, now displays its hand-painted ceiling picturing the four seasons. As many as 700 workers at a time labored to revive the 10th floor Grand Ballroom, now resplendent with gold columns, original chandeliers, and an arched ceiling painted with a cloud swept sky that often mirrors the real heavens outside the 20-foot arched windows.
For activity, Life Fitness machines in the state of the art Fitness Room provide views out toward the hills beyond and a special Pivot 360 video system can be programmed to lead you through your choice of a few dozen athletic workouts.
Outdoors, sightseeing kept me busy, the hotel distributes the Downtown Committee's brochure which leads visitors on a fascinating walking tour that winds through town. Fortunately Syracuse has kept many heritage buildings from the days of its early commercial prosperity -- Renaissance revival, Queen Anne, Art Deco. The ultra modern Everson, the first art museum designed by I.M.Pei, is a few blocks away from the stop which points out the Syracuse Hotel. The hotel's own Monday morning guided tour is so popular it is booked out months ahead, but guests can visit its sights while in residence. Then, after exploring, your guest room with its large windows overlooking the city is a cozy place to nestle in, watch premium television, and chill.
For further information: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/syrmc-marriott-syracuse-downtown/
© December 2016 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.