One day in November 1999, Toni and Curt Feldmann were driving west on 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 and accountant who had lost her job to a corporate buyout; Curt sold hardware.
Their backgrounds didn't 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, kitchenettes, private patios, ceramic baths, stereos and cable TV; WiFi was later added to the mix. Many of the rooms also have two-person Jacuzzi tubs.
Now, 10 years later, the motel has grown to become Skaneateles Suites & Boutique Hotel and the Feldmanns have hosted more than 15,000 guests at their properties on Route 20 and at 12 Fennell St.
Toni is innkeeper and Curt is captain of the Suite Dreams Team, vice president of guest relations and "the laundry guy."
The Feldmanns added a property management division in 2003 to offer professional rental and maintenance services to local property owners. Through this division, Skaneateles Suites manages more than 75 apartments, condos, houses and waterfront cottages -- each professionally decorated, with weekly housekeeping and off-street parking.
Many of their guests over the years have been repeat customers, including 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 is ranked as a Top 10 hotel in New York state -- among 3,862 hotels and accommodations -- by Trip Advisor, which bases its rankings on traveler reviews.
"I would love to tell you that our success was due to a hard-hitting business plan, but, frankly, we got lucky," Curt Feldmann said.
The Feldmanns enjoy sharing their good fortune, and have donated thousands of dollars worth of stays to public radio and public TV auctions throughout upstate New York.
Check out Skaneateles Suites by logging onto skaneatelessuites.com. Visit Trip Advisor at tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g28953-New_York-Vacations.html.