The Moravians who settled Bethlehem, Pa., in 1741 were industrious and simple. The magnates whose Bethlehem Steel Co. put the town on the map were industrious and extravagant.
A hotel built on the site of the town’s first house, now the Hotel Bethlehem, served them both.
Today the nine-story hotel sits graciously on the unhurried Main Street of Bethlehem, a city of 75,000 in eastern Pennsylvania. The hotel is within walking distance of restaurants, shops and a trove of Moravian history and buildings that date to the 1700s.
Many ways to honor past
A member of Historic Hotels of America, the Hotel Bethlehem honors its past in many ways — for example, a historian is stationed in the lobby — while it provides facilities and services that meet the needs of today’s meeting-goers. The hotel has complimentary wireless Internet access, an updated projection system, 24-hour room service, shuttles and free parking.
The hotel is best for meetings of 150 or fewer, with 14,000 square feet of meeting space in nine rooms. Among its meeting spaces are two ballrooms.
“We have meeting space, but we are not a conference center with all the latest bells and whistles,” said Jenny Laughlin, the catering sales manager. “People come here because of the atmosphere.”
Sue DeLazaro confirms that. Over the past two years, she has held four four-day train-the-trainer sessions here for clients from all over the country. She is programs director for Talent Smart, a San Diego firm that trains clients in how emotions affect relationships. DeLazaro grew up in the Lehigh Valley, near Bethlehem.
“I like places where people feel comfortable and safe with a slower pace,” she said. “I’d forgotten what makes this region special. The Hotel Bethlehem remembers. The service here is amazing.”
Meeting rooms on three levels
Meeting rooms are on three levels, with a 2,600-square-foot ballroom off the lobby, a 3,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom with three balconies on the mezzanine level and breakout rooms on the third floor.
Balconies that overlook the Grand Ballroom can be used for receptions, or they can be closed off and used as additional meeting space.
The hotel’s Terrace dining room, once a veranda, has Palladian windows and stunning floor tile made at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, a working history museum and a National Historic Landmark in nearby Bucks County.
In harmony with Moravian musical tradition, there’s music there on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights and during the Sunday brunch.
Every Thursday is jazz night in the hotel’s Tap Room lounge, where photographs of famous people who have slept there line the walls. They span years — Amelia Earhart to Bill Clinton; talents — Phyllis Diller to Yo-Yo Ma; and claims to fame — the Dalai Lama to Jack Nicklaus.