Story and photos by Sharon King Hoge

Marriott Syracuse Hotel mural over reception desk pictures city highlights

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 Ed Riley, 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.

Marriott Syracuse Hotel terrazzo floors and 20-foot columns

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.

Marriott Syracuse Hotel guest rooms set up with sleeping, working, relaxing areas

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.

Marriott Syracuse Hotel Fresh Bites Caesar salad

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, entrées, 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.

Marriott Syracuse Hotel ll Waters Bar was once the hotel's 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.

Marriott Syracuse Hotel blue sky mural crowns the Grand Ballroom

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. 

Marriott Syracuse Hotel Life Fitness exercise machines

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.


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