Rediscover your Backyard!

Wow, who knew the kickoff to travel season in the US would be so chaotic this year?  Like it or not, the world is in a state of panic and uncertainty.  I have talked to so many family and friends canceling their travel plans or the plans were cancelled for them.  But what I keep hearing is, “but we still want to get away!”  My suggestion?  Now is the perfect time to rediscover what you have right here in your own back yard.

Vineyard Cottage

Vineyard Cottage

Want to avoid big crowds?  Try a cottage for two in Ohio’s wine country.  Were planning to see the

Historic Lafayette

Historic Lafayette

ocean? Why not visit one of Ohio’s greatest water-side towns, minus the plane ride.

Were hoping for some big city action? Tone it down a little bit, but still take in some great food, cool shops and unique accommodations.

Check out some of our favorite visits from around the state and rethink how you can rediscover your own state, help stimulate our own economy, and fall inn love with one of these cool Ohio destinations.  This is a fantastic time for a staycation, so let us lead the way…

Mills Park

Mills Park

Vineyard Woods – Geneva, Ohio

The Lafayette Hotel – Marietta, Ohio

The Mills Park Hotel – Yellowsprings, Ohio

Want to find more unique options around our state? Check out the brand new UniqueLodgingofOhio.com.

Off to Athens!

Let’s shuffle off to the Southeastern part of the state and the home of the Ohio University Bobcats. There is a new boutique hotel in Athens that you just need to hear about. The Athens Central Hotel is now open for business and in the heart of Athens.Athens Central Hotel

This offers a unique option if you are in the area and lucky for you, it is just steps away from the popular Court Street and bustling Uptown Athens. If you are not familiar with Uptown Athens, become acquainted! There are great coffee shops, pubs, dining options, and nightlife excitement for all who visit the area.

Athens Central HotelAn all-white structure with sparkling silver lettering would capture any passerby’s attention and the interiors welcome much of the same aesthetic with a beautiful blue color palette. The entire property feels very European and something, well, you just might find in Greece.

Each room is unique and no two rooms are the same. One of my favorite details are the chevron laid flooring and the beautiful bathrooms. Each bathroom features shower options from waterfall to body jets and sliding glass doors.

Athens Central HotelMaybe you should plan a little staycation and take the short drive to Athens… perhaps to see the Fall foilage, OU’s infamous Green Beer Day, or to enjoy all that Uptown has to offer.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Emerging Brands, Oh My!

Many of you are familiar with our handy, dandy, OHLA Brand Guide which offers a great breakdown of brands across all tiers in our industry. Each year the guide is reviewed, edited between tiers, new brands added, other brands removed, and every single year… we are surprised (and excited) by the changes and additions we see.

Here is a quick review of the changes we made to our brand guide for 2020:

Thompson Hotels – In October of 2018 Hyatt acquired the luxury line of Thompson Hotels and in March of 2019 the 8 existing Thompson Hotels were transitioned as part of Hyatt

Signia by Hilton – In February of 2019 Signia by Hilton was announced. This brand offers a new approach to your standard rooms to space ratio with a meetings & events focused approach.

 

Aiden – Best Western added this brand to reflect a casual, eclectic, and trendy boutique hotel to their portfolio.

 

SADIE – Also by Best Western, this boutique brand will help capture the playfulness of travel and embody the creative and unique culture of the neighborhood of where each property sits.

 

 

MOTTO by Hilton – City life encompassed within small rooms with flexible furniture set-up to offer a true urban experience.

 

Miraval – An all-inclusive wellness resort dedicated to their guests finding balance and their best selves

(In addition to these brands being added to the guide, other brands moved within their chain scale. If you’d like a copy of our brand guide to see everything in the big picture, please send me an email at Lauren@ohla.org!)

Though we aren’t seeing any of these brands in Ohio currently, it does not mean we won’t see them in the future. Just think, it was not all that long ago that brands like AC by Marriott and Tru by Hilton were emerging and here we are… with close to 6 of each within the state either opened or underway.

We are looking forward to another year of growth and new potential.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Cure Those January [BLU]es

How are you feeling this January? Looking for any glimpse of sunshine? If yes, you and I are in the same boat. No need to be “BLU”, I have exciting news! The BLU-Tique Hotel rang in the new year by opening its’ doors for the first time to the public.The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

Excitement has been stirring around the newest addition to the thriving downtown Akron Arts District. This independent property now occupies the historic United One Building and is all about offering an all-encompassing experience through three pillars: come for the food, stay for the music, and stay for the night. The hotel itself is the third dynamic to the “BLU Zone Trio”, a concept driven by the vision of the owner, Tony Troppe. The trio consists of the hotel, BLU Plate, and BLU Jazz+.The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

An upscale, jazzy feel welcomes guests both in the public areas and sleeping rooms.
One of my favorite unique qualities is that there is a piano stage in the lobby where guests may sign up to play at night. Unfortunately, I am not a pianist, but I’d love to enjoy another’s talent.

Being a Northeast Ohio girl, this location will be somewhere I certainly visit sometime very soon. It is exciting to see the development happening across the state especially when it is in “your neck of the woods”.

The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

A Yurt Experience

2020 is here! Isn’t that hard to believe? This year is already off to an exciting start!

Professionally, OHLA recently moved offices for the first time in 40 years from the exciting Short North Arts District to bustling downtown Columbus, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse. Personally, for those who do not know, Sean & I are expecting our first child in March.

With this being said, this blog comes to your inbox in the spirit of overwhelming excitement and positivity for this year and Sean & I squeezing in as much as we can in the few short weeks we have left as a party of two.

Another thing off of the bucket list for us… we stayed in a yurt. A beautiful, cozy, quaint yurt. You may have the same question my sister did… “What is a yurt?”. A yurt is a round structure that includes a lattice skeleton covered by a fabric-like wall covering, and a dome skylight at the center of the roof covering. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls recently added yurts to their options for accommodations and I just had to check it out!

Our yurt, Firefly, had a large bed, a kitchenette, a sitting area and full bathroom. My favorite part about our stay was that there was not a television. After enjoying a delectable dinner at Kindred Spirits, the on-site restaurant, we went back and played an intense and competitive game of Scrabble. A Scrabble game that seemed to have no end in sight.

I awakened in the middle of the night and was mesmerized by the moon shining in through the skylight and the pitter patter of rain drops on the yurt. It felt special and in a way comforting. In the morning, we put on the soft cozy robes and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the wrap-around porch. (Yes, we were outside, in the morning, in January… you know, it was casually almost 60 degrees.)

We wrapped our stay with a visit to the spa and were then on our way back to Columbus.

En route back home, we stopped at the Hocking Hills Inn and Coffee Emporium. If you are passing by or coming to stay, be sure to stop here! They have an extensive menu of all of your favorite coffee, espresso, and tea favorites in a beautiful café setting. They also have great grab-and-go items for a quick snack or lunch. Next time I am in the Hocking region, I will definitely need to check out the suites available at the inn, they look so beautiful!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

 

Into the Wild at Kalahari

It’s hard to believe that Kalahari Sandusky has been a staple for so many years and continues to be at the forefront for just about everything from family fun, to conference services, to innovative dining, a rejuvenating spa experience, (…OR attending our annual conference in a few short days). The service, the food, the venue is always so impressive and is such a dynamic setting.

If you’re in just the right spot, at just the right time, they might just have you convinced that you were transported to the African countryside.

Something that is new(er) is B-Lux Grill & Bar. It is my favorite dining outlet and offers my preferred combo of the savory and the sweet. A great place for laid back grub offering a wide array of different burgers, sandwiches and other comfort foods like gourmet macaroni and cheese! Now, things get serious when we start talking about dessert… the milkshake options are extensive and are just…so….good. From a cupcake to a donut, you will have all your milkshake dreams met! Make sure you look at the milkshake menu BEFORE you order dinner to ensure you have plenty of room to indulge.

If you aren’t here for a meeting, or you are able to enjoy any of the other amenities – check out the water park. What a fun array of activities! Ride all of the slides, the lazy river and be submerged under the “dump buckets”. You know, those water vortex things that spits you out a funnel? This is a fantastic place for families. It’s safe and there are a zillion different things to do for all ages. There is much more than meets the eye – water slides, a zip line course, and animals! There is a mini zoo!Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!

So whether you’re there for a meeting, splashing around in the water park, relaxing in the Spa Kalahari & Salon or restaurant hopping, take some time to check out the detail of this place.

I hope YOU have decided to #jointhecaravan and we will see you at this dynamic venue November 25-26!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!

Morning Rainbows @ Kalahari – Sandusky

Anything but Ordinary – MOXY Columbus Short North

We had an exciting Grand Opening this week for the FIRST Moxy Hotel in Ohio! It opened in the popular Short North Arts District in Downtown Columbus. If you are a hotel-lifer, this brand may surprise you and it is anything but ordinary.

Walking into the Moxy, I felt the energy that reverberates from the walls. The pops of magenta, the music bumping upstairs, and of course the overall modern and fun design. Hanging from the ceiling was fabric and textiles that created a chandelier affect and was the perfect accent to the magenta “red carpet” that was rolled out for guests.The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

The second floor is where the action is at! Common in our industry is the idea of “activating your space” and Moxy is in full activation mode. A rectangular, lively bar opens to sleek gathering spaces, a fireplace wall and a pool table.

Are you wondering about a front desk?

You will not find that here. Check-in is at the bar!

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OHCity living is the vibe I felt when I saw the brand-new rooms. They are minimal in nature with an efficient use of space. An extra chair or a table could be hanging on a hook in your room! Never know when you’ll need an extra seat for entertaining! I was surprised to find that a few of the rooms feature personal balcony areas looking out over Short North.

There are several unique and quirky attributes of the brand but I have to share my favorite one… as a guest you may have the opportunity to be flocked by flamingos. Yup, you read that correctly. You may arrive back to your room, walk in and see a few décor additions that were not there prior. Think lots of flamingos, pink lights, pink candies and so forth.The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

As I left the Moxy and walked down High Street, I smiled because from the sidewalk, you can see the pink glow and excitement brewing on the second floor. My bet is that this energy will draw just about any passerby in to answer their curiosities.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

 

Refined Hospitality at Hancock Hotel

An enlightened experience.

Bringing refined hotel and dining experiences to the Findlay, Ohio landscape.

I introduce you to the Hancock Hotel located on South Main Street in Downtown Findlay. I recently visited this property for one of our many member mixers with our Northwest Lodging Council and it is impressive!Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

The design elements throughout the hotel are modern and tell the story and history of the Findlay community. The front entryway is glass with perfectly aligned bicycles adorned with the hotel logo. These bikes are available for any guests to rent at any time.

Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OHI was warmly greeted by the friendly team and directed to our event space. The halls have high ceilings with many windows allowing for their gorgeous light fixtures to shimmer. Every space in the hotel is a statement. I loved the rich royal blue accents throughout the hotel along with just a little bit of glitz through their light fixtures and usage of metals.

The pre-function and meeting area also offered tall windows with navy draperies in a pristine space. The team did a great job as our host and I have to say, the build-your-own bruschetta was maybe my most favorite appetizer ever… fresh tomatoes, soft mozzarella, sliced breads… the Italian in me was such a happy camper!

Speaking of good eats, Hancock Hotel is also home to Mancy’s Steakhouse. Sound familiar? While visiting, I learned that Mancy’s is an iconic steakhouse in Toledo and extremely well-known. The restaurant décor and set-up are very warm and cozy. Somewhere you’d want to take in a multiple course meal and perhaps stay for that night cap. The kitchen has a large open service window which I always enjoy, I love being able to see the operation!Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

The sleeping rooms are equally as beautiful as the rest of the hotel with plush bedding, stand out artwork and again a little piece of Findlay in every space.Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

After speaking with several of the Hancock team members, I was overjoyed to hear of their engagement and involvement within the community. They host community events throughout the year at a nominal cost to locals. From family-friendly to an evening for adults, there is a diverse selection, and each is ever so creative. A few events coming up are “A Great Pumpkin Breakfast” featuring a full breakfast buffet for the whole family and showing of It’s a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and for the adults they will be hosting a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed by a few other holiday events such as a holiday pop up market. (If you are interested in any of these events they are open to registrations on Eventbrite!)

Next time you are in Findlay, stop by and see the lovely team at the Hancock Hotel and maybe even enjoy a steak at Mancy’s!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

A Unique Experience in Dublin

Oh, have I’ve missed you! It’s me, Halle! I’m back! Just for a brief bit though to share about a super cool experience I had recently in my very own backyard.  One of my favorite parts of working for OHLA is discovering the coolest lodging facilities we have right here in Ohio.  Even better when it’s here in Columbus.  I want to introduce you to The Timbrook Guesthouse located in Dublin, just across from Antrim Park.Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

The Timbrook Guesthouse is owned by innkeepers Jill & Peter Dole.  Parents to 6 kids and several grandkids, these two fell in lovebirds (pun intended – read on) with what was formerly known as the “Old Jack Antrim Farmhouse” – a mansion built in 1875 and nestled on 83 acres.  The Doles bought the property and its remaining 4 acres from the Timmons family in 1988 and raised their family there.  Now, the Doles operate a guesthouse where they welcome visitors into their tropical paradise tucked neatly away off of Olentangy River Road in the heart of Columbus – I promise you; you didn’t even know it was there. And that, my friends, is the best part.  They have marvelously created a hidden escape for me, for you and all of their guests. Let’s take a look!Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

I was visiting Timbrook on a drizzly Saturday in September for work on a weekend – something many of our readers can appreciate.  The difference here is, I was transported to an island getaway despite the wet, the cool and the Ohio gray.  While at most inns one can expect an immaculate experience inside, the coolest part of Timbrook is what is on the outside.  The Doles have added hidden nooks and crannies outside to be discovered by guests, including Puna’s Pond (the pool), Leilani’s Lagoon (the hot tub sanctuary) and my favorite, the Tropical Aviary (see what I did there – these two love birds!).Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

Even on a day like that Saturday, the beauty of the meticulously manicured gardens was all anyone could need.  Give me a blanket and wipe off my seat and I could have easily sat in one of the benches or chairs throughout the property and just watched the world slow down and let my senses take over.  Sadly, I wasn’t there to relax, but I was eager to indulge in Jill’s fabulous breakfast spread.  If you remember, I love food, so when I booked this location for a board retreat, I made sure it included brunch.  The Doles were dealing with a full house (big OSU game that weekend) + our 8 guests, so it was all hands-on deck.  We were seated in a beautiful family dining room – the wooden table was hand made in Costa Rica, as were the super cool chairs (guys, they had pineapples carved into them!) and we were surrounded by windows – it was the perfect setting to dig into Jill’s AMAZING pumpkin pancakes.  I put amazing in all caps, because they were hands down, the best pumpkin pancakes I’ve ever had.

Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OHAnd, the best part about breakfast at Timbrook?  There is a TEA STATION! Raise your hand if you work at a property that puts an emphasis on tea for its guests? (Right, not a lot of hands in the air) So imagine my joy when I was directed to an entire tea station that included honey made right there at Timbrook. (Shameless Plug: Curious about tea service?  Make sure you check out ‘Service to a Tea’ at the OHLA Annual Conference this year!)

Set a little goal for yourself, right here, right now.  Find one day – come on, you have 365 to choose from – and book a stay at The Timbrook Guesthouse.  The Doles will graciously open their beautiful paradise to you and transport you to somewhere truly special. Aloha!

A Destination in Pennsylvania – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Labor Day weekend is always special to me. My husband and I were married over Labor Day weekend in 2015, so every year we try to take advantage of the long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. This year, we spent the weekend at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort nestled in the rolling hills of Farmington, Pennsylvania and an easy commute of just over 3 hours from Cleveland or Columbus.

Nemacolin - Farmington, PANemacolin is an extensive experience with three lodging establishments on site: Chateau Lafayette, The Lodge and Falling Rock plus townhomes and luxury vacation homes. We stayed at the French inspired Chateau Lafayette, a true grand European resort.

Once we began approaching Nemacolin, we could see the Chateau perfectly situated on the hilltop. As we approached the curvy, steep driveway, we were quickly greeted by the security gate attendant and continued our way up to this beautiful architectural gem.

We were immediately assisted out of the car, luggage loaded, and went to check-in. Upon check-in we gladly accepted a glass of champagne (or sparkling cider), were warmly welcomed with a “Happy Anniversary!” and were promptly on our way to our room.

The Chateau in one word is GRAND. Marble flooring, wood paneled walls, an extensive art collection, sparkling chandeliers, beautiful floral arrangements, statues and elaborate draperies are just a few of the décor qualities you’ll find throughout the property.Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Chandeliers are sparkling everywhere you look. The hallway leading to our room is chandelier lined, the entry way of our room had a chandelier, a large chandelier hung over the bed… just beautiful. Our room had two large windows with a stunning view of the fog settling in the hills.

Nemacolin - Farmington, PADuring our stay we took advantage of the many activities available to us. The first day we went clay shooting (yes, they trusted me with a rifle!), we shared relaxing time poolside, enjoyed dinner at Rockwell’s (a steakhouse) and rounded out the evening at Sean’s favorite, the cigar bar.

Day two started off with pouring showers and thunderstorms. However, this did not stop my husband from golfing one of his favorite courses, Mystic Rock. I took the much more warm, cozy and indoor approach… I started with a cup of coffee in one of the many parlor/nooks throughout the resort. This parlor offered a large standing birdcage with beautiful chirping birds, century furniture, big windows and sparkling chandeliers. It was so peaceful and quiet.Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Once I finished every last drop, I headed to the Nemacolin Spa. The spa was so beautiful and calming. The “waiting” area offered chaise  loungers, with faux fur blankets and a massive wood-burning fireplace in the middle. It was a perfect fit for a dreary morning. Luckily, by the afternoon, we got to soak in a few additional rays at the pool and partake in an overly competitive game of putt-putt (I need a vote… Sean won by a few strokes BUT I got a hole-in-one, that has to count for something!).

I could go on, and on, and on, and on about Nemacolin Resort. There is just SO much you can do either as a couple, a family, with co-workers, etc. There is truly something for EVERYONE from accommodations to activities to food.

This is a place we will return to without a doubt in my mind. It has a new, special place in our hearts and we look forward to making many more memories here!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Nemacolin - Farmington, PA