In case you have not checked your favorite travel web site lately, hotels are becoming far more expensive. Yet there is a growing demand, and profit to be made, by hospitality companies willing to offer accommodation at a middle-market rate. At the same time, consumers are increasingly wanting to stay in unique properties that are sustainable and have character.
Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, NY, checks off all those boxes for those who are keen on sustainable travel. The Skyler is relatively affordable for those who are in town to visit a student studying up the hill at Syracuse University; the hotel is certified as LEED Platinum; and the property is definitely memorable, as it was once a synagogue that closed in the 1980s, found a second life as a theater and is now on its third act.
The Skyler made waves several years ago when it was one of the first hotels in the country, and the first in Syracuse, to achieve LEED platinum certification. Energy efficiency was the key to scoring that designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. A geothermal heating and cooling system keeps guests comfortable during western New York’s humid summers and harsh winters. Sixteen wells, each almost 500 feet deep were bored near the hotel. In turn, 68 water-to-air pumps allow cool and warm air to flow when needed, drastically reducing the property’s utility bills.
The hotel also scores green building points for relying on locally made goods. Those pumps previously mentioned were manufactured locally. Aesthetic features that make the Skyler stand out were also sourced from across western New York. Salvaged stained-glass doors from a church in nearby Oswego that greet visitors when they check in, as well as repurposed lumber and woodwork that blanket the Skyler with a warm, cozy feel. In addition, the Skylar’s owners claim over 20 percent of the products used in the hotel are recycled content, and more than 75 percent of the materials removed during the hotel’s construction were recycled.
The walls of the synagogue and bones of the original structure have been preserved. Some of the more eclectic rooms showcase exposed beams, crown molding and other architectural elements that comprise the temple’s vestibule or adjacent school. One of the hotel’s employees who gave a tour of the property earlier this week noted that former members of congregation occasionally stop by to share memorabilia or stories about their experience growing up with the temple.
For the Skyler’s owners, aligning with Hilton’s latest hotel line, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, is a smart business proposition. Hilton no longer owns any properties; this collection of hotels, branded and launched earlier this year, seeks unique upscale properties desired by travelers who seek and value that independent hotel experience. Yet the Skylar’s owners benefit from buying supplies, from towels to toiletries, at a cost-effective price made possible by Hilton’s purchasing power. The Skyler also has access to Hilton’s reservation system; guest in turns can score Hilton Honors points. Hilton’s branding is also kept to a minimum – most guests would not know this property was affiliated with Hilton until they see the small plaque at the entrance or the small signs at the check-in desk. A family long established in Syracuse owns the Skyler.
Staying in this 94-year-old building is a needed break from the pallid cookie-cutter experience most business travelers have as they travel across the U.S. Yet the hotel also offers the amenities, such as wireless internet and strong coffee, travelers seek as they try to catch up on work while attending meetings or conferences. And they can do so knowing that at least their environmental impact from being on the road is mitigated by the steps taken to make this property more sustainable and responsible than other options in the area.
Image credits: Leon Kaye
Travel and accommodations were provided by Hilton; neither the author nor TriplePundit were required to write about this experience.
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.