SKANEATELES | One day in November 1999, Toni and Curt Feldmann were driving west on U.S. Route 20, heading to Auburn to buy steamed clams. They passed the dilapidated Anchor Motel and noticed it was for sale.
Neither had experience in the hospitality industry. Toni was a controller/accountant who had lost her job to a corporate buyout, while Curt sold hardware.
No matter. The couple bought the motel the following morning. Within six months, they had converted 12 small rooms into six “savvy traveler bungalows” offering super-premium bedding, kitchenette, private patio, ceramic baths, stereo and cable TV. Wi-Fi was added later and was upgraded last fall. Many of the rooms have two-person jacuzzi tubs.
Project architect Bob Eggleston explains: “The old Anchor Motel was an example of 1950s roadside architecture that had become run-down, as people abandoned the federal highway system for expressways and airways. We worked with what was good and redefined what wasn't."
“The small 150-square-foot duplex masonry bunkers became 300-square-foot suites, stitched together by a colonnade of front porches or loggias,” Eggleston said. “Reverse gables were added to draw attention to each entry. Each suite was given a private patio that overlooks a park-like setting, begging its occupants to slow down and relax.”
Fifteen years later, the motel has grown to become Skaneateles Suites & Boutique Hotel, and the Feldmanns have hosted close to 30,000 guests – almost half of whom have become repeat customers – at their properties on U.S. Route 20 and at 12 Fennell St.
Among those repeat customers is their very first – a honeymoon couple – who still visit regularly, despite living in New Zealand. Another couple lives just a half-mile away, visiting Honeymoon Bungalow No. 4 every few months.
They’re far from the only guests to have enjoyed their stay: Skaneateles Suites received a 2013 Travelers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor in the category of Top 25 Bargain Hotels in the United States.
Ranked No. 7, it was cited for being “friendly and charming.” In 2009, Skaneateles Suites was ranked a Top 10 hotel in New York state by TripAdvisor.
Today, Toni is innkeeper and Curt is vice president of guest relations and captain of the Suite Dreams Team at Skaneateles Suites.
“The Suite Dreams Team – guest services manager Terri Chapman, office and reservations manager Julie Hunt and property manager Keia Endres – is the reason we get rave reviews,” Curt said.
“There have been many structural changes over the years, but the personalized service we’ve always offered remains the same,” Chapman said. “We treat people like family – as we ourselves would want to be treated.”
“In addition to welcoming guests with free drinks and snacks in their rooms, we offer treats for their pets,” Endres said. “We do everything we can to make our guests feel at home.”
Hunt concurs: “We try to provide our guests with an experience geared to their interests. As a result, we’ve become the ‘getaway place’ for visitors from Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa.”
Skaneateles Journal Editor Jonathan Monfiletto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (315) 283-1615. Follow him on Twitter @Skan_Monfiletto.