What’s Best about the New Best Western?

First, I have to give a quick shout out to Suman for helping me with a guest blog while I traveled to our annual family vacation in North Carolina.  It’s so great to be surrounded by peers that also love to travel! Suman, THANK YOU!!

This week, we’re on to our next adventure.  How many times in life have you had the AH-HA moment when two different stories come full circle and the light bulb goes off?  I had one of those recently and it just so happened to include one of our newest members.

My parents love music. I swear they would go to nearly any concert just to hear live music. A few years ago, they did what every 50-something does on a week/work night and drive 2 hours from home to see Jimmy Buffet. (Sometimes I wonder if my parents are actually my parents!). The next day I call my mom to see how the concert was and she tells me it was “great” but the best story was about the hotel. See, they are 50-somethings and they get up really early, regardless of their bedtime. My mom begins telling me about how they realized after heading down for the hotel breakfast and noticing that the hotel was deserted, despite being sold out with concert go-ers that perhaps they were getting a little “old” for the Jimmy Buffet crowd because in fact, everyone was still sleeping off their hangovers or whatever they might be desperately seeking sleep after. As she’s telling this story she breezes over one tiny detail which is the start of my light bulb circuit – she tells me, “We always stay at the Best Western there by the university, but now it’s across the street! We had no idea! We thought we must be getting old, but it turns out they built a new one!”

A few weeks later and I’m talking to a potential member on the phone when she explains that we need to update our address because they recently moved and built a new Best Western across the street.

**LIGHT BULB**

I ask the potential member, “Are you near a venue where Jimmy Buffet plays?” “YES! First Niagra (KeyBank Pavilion)!” And here we are.  A few months later and I finally got to visit this new member, the Best Western Plus The Inn at Franciscan Square.  So come check out one of my parents’ favorite places to catch some shut eye after a concert at the fabulous KeyBank Pavilion. Like the brand Best Western itself, this property didn’t just get a face lift, it got an overhaul.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

When you enter the lobby, you suddenly don’t feel like you’re in Steubenville anymore. The property sits at the foot of Franciscan University of Steubenville and subtle hints of the University find its way into the design and decor.  One of my favorite pieces was this painting done by Ohio artist Dave Barnhouse.  Dave was born in Richmond, OH and has lived in small towns scattered across

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OHthe state. He is known for his paintings of “Rural America.” This particular painting is done on wood and depicts some of the highlights and landmarks of the University which sits on top of a hill just across the street from the property.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

When we stepped into the guestrooms, I was pleased to find they had taken on the trend towards sleek, simple designs, yet still found ways to incorporate the local flavor, with neat wooden nature dividers and in each room hung a photo from the campus.  Of all of the room photos I saw, I loved the one in the photo to the left – it’s of the old building sitting in the snow on a frosty, Ohio morning with the bright sun shining through the winter landscape. The guestrooms come in all shapes and sizes and include suites and connecting rooms!

What every hotel needs though, is a good gym and a fantastic pool and the Inn at Franciscan Square delivers. We know I’m a gym rat and even for a small property, they didn’t let the gym features fall short.  Next to the gym is an expansive indoor pool with comfortable furniture, showers and windows surrounding the pool deck. In addition to all of these amenities, the hotel has a great amount of meeting space for the area with hopes to expand in the future.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

Personally, I don’t get to this side of the state too often. But next time your planning a trip to/from the Pittsburgh International Airport or you’re joining my parents at the next Jimmy Buffet concert (or any other event) at First Niagra/KeyBank Pavilion, look a little further down the road and you will be beyond pleased with what you find at the Best Western Plus The Inn at Franciscan Square.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Guest Blog: Summer on the Bay

I’m Suman and like Halle, I love to travel.  You might be wondering why you are hearing from me today!  Halle’s out discovering the world – where else?!  Luckily, she surrounds herself with others that enjoy travel and she asked if I would share with you an experience I had recently that she hasn’t had the chance to explore herself – Put-in-Bay, OH.  That’s right! While she’s on the shores of North Carolina, I’m going to tell you about my recent trip to the shores of Ohio.  This is my first time blogging – so bear with me… it might be a bumpy ride!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Put-In-Bay for a conference and I was asked to find accommodations on my own. However, I was not willing to spend a fortune on my accommodations, because the conference itself was quite pricey! When I was looking for an affordable option to spend my days at Put-In-Bay, I came across The Park Hotel. The location was perfect! Just around the corner from all my activities and conference center as well.

My first impression about the Park Hotel was a fascinating one. This was an old Victorian hotel, and the staff greeted me with a warm welcome. I knew at that moment, I made the right decision by selecting the Park Hotel for my stay. This was not my first time in Put-In-Bay. In fact, I have visited here twice before. However, it was my first time staying at the Park Hotel and I must admit, this was my best Put-in-Bay lodging experience.  The rooms were clean with fantastic air conditioning (a must have in mid-summer!). I don’t come from the lodging industry like Halle, so when I struck up a conversation with a staff member about the history of the hotel (built in the 1870s!), I inquired why they haven’t advertised on Hotels.com etc. where so many other hotels list themselves. He said they preferred word-of-mouth business and liked individual guest service where they could explain the setup and amenities of the hotel one-on-one. Even though the hotel had shared bathrooms, it was just fine for me, because I’m a person who is used to backpacking and staying in all kinds of unique lodging.

The property was a great mix of quaint charm and middle-of-it-all convenience. This hotel made me feel like I was secluded in a small-town hotel in the middle of a huge party town. On the other hand, being so close to downtown Put-In-Bay, I got the opportunity to walk to almost all the happening places in the area.

The hotel was located close to my favorite place to get a drink called Mojito Bay Tiki Bar.  Nearby are other great restaurants such as T&J’s Smokehouse. It offers some of the best dishes to the people in Put-In-Bay and has the fun bull riding place (pictured above!). He is one tough bull to ride! Better yet, the hotel was in close proximity to The Boardwalk, a restaurant serving up “fresh & traditional seafood” and where I got the opportunity to taste my favorite food, Lobster Bisque.

Another great stop to include on your next trip to Put-in-Bay is Beer Barrel Saloon, claiming to have the world’s largest bar! Like Halle, I love to dance and Beer Barrel was the place to do that.

I had fun dancing the night away to the live music! With all of these great places to spend an evening, I found myself very thankful to have a hotel within walking distance.  It made for a much easier, carefree night and isn’t that what you want when visiting Put-in-Bay?

Believe it or not, it’s not all about the party.  And, quite logically, The Park Hotel sits alongside Derivera Park, a great place to enjoy a walk and the lake breeze. The Park also connects to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial – a beautiful site honoring those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The memorial represents peace among Great Britain, Canada and the US. Just on the other side of the park, you can conveniently catch a ferry or rent a golf cart.

All in all, I’d say my trip to The Park Hotel & Put-in-Bay were a success!  Next time, I’ll have to return for Pirate/Pyrate Fest Weekend, one of the biggest island-wide parties. You’ll notice in my pictures the staff at the Park Hotel were preparing for the weekend with immaculate pirate decorations.  I enjoyed my entire stay at The Park Hotel and highly recommend it to any person who is planning to visit Put-In-Bay. I could not have asked for a better value with an excellent location.  It is definitely a hidden gem!

Grand in Granville

I hate missing birthdays. Birthdays, mine or someone else’s, are my favorite.  I think it’s great giving someone a day to just celebrate them.  At least in my industry, it’s all about helping others, so every now and then, you just need a day to celebrate you!  So, just imagine how I felt when I realized, I missed the birthday of one of Greater Columbus’ fabulous historic inns by two days on my visit.  {{{BIG SIGHS}}}

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

The Granville Inn was built in 1924, it’s grand opening on June 26th of that year.  Just 93 years and 2 DAYS later… I arrived at its doorstep. Gosh, I hope you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “yes! I love the Granville Inn!” because you have in fact been there and it didn’t take you 93 years to discover it.  But alas, I’m sure that isn’t the case for everyone.  See, I didn’t know much of Granville until my friend Jena, a graduate of Granville’s Denison University, told me of her fantastic college town. Granville is quaint, to the say the least. Dominated on the hill by Denison University, the main drag is packed with little shops and restaurants. Beautiful, picturesque landscaping and sitting areas line the streets. It’s really no surprise that the Granville Inn isn’t the only boutique lodging property to be found near the town square.  Granville is home to several unique lodging options, like the Buxton Inn, Orchard House B&B (check out my post!) and the Welsh Hills Inn – many of which are on my bucket list to explore.

Like the Granville Inn, many of the properties have history.  But this one in particular was once the home of The Granville Female College, what was considered to be the oldest school for women’s education in Ohio.  What I love about the Granville Inn is that if you’re like me and you appreciate the modern touches and amenities, you can enjoy those luxuries and still take a trip through history by walking the halls. The walls are lined with well curated photos from the original school and also Denison University and there’s a cabinet housing original china from the first years of the Inn’s operation.

The Inn has had many owners, but locals and guests alike will tell you that the game changer was when Denison University purchased the Inn in 2013, setting the groundwork for a much needed $9 million renovation.  The renovation included the face lift of existing rooms, but also the addition of 9 more which involved quite literally raising the roof and moving original slate roofing.

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

Stepping into the lobby is like taking a step back in time. The lobby fireplace greets you like a friendly face or a bear hug, even on a summer’s day. One of my favorite new places at the Inn is the patio.  As a Columbus resident, I couldn’t help but start comparing their patio to what’s available in Columbus. My conclusion? There isn’t one.

The sleeping rooms are to die for.  The soft colors and sunlight streaming in during the day makes for a restful or romantic place to spend an evening. Some of the new rooms include exposed

brick, over-sized bathrooms and small seating areas.

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

If one day you find yourself looking for a last minute getaway or an escape from the city, or hey! maybe you’re checking out Denison University, do yourself a favor and stay a night at The Granville Inn. If you plan ahead, they have great special events open to the public, like their Ladies’ Night, Murder Mystery Dinners or Movie Nights. Like golfing?  They recently acquired the management of the Denison Golf Course, so close you can literally walk there. I’m also told if you’re there in the summer on a Saturday morning, the Granville Farmer’s Market is a must-do! Happy travels…

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Around Ohio in 365 days!

It is July. What does that mean?  I’ve finally hit one year of blogging since we originally “set sail.”  It’s amazing how fast a year goes and in that year, how many times I’ve awkwardly had to agree to people’s comments that I “get around,” because in fact, I do!  I have been so fortunate to discover so many amazing lodging accommodations in my wonderful state.  To kick off another year of adventuring through my backyard, I want to recap all of the awesome places you need to add to your bucket list when exploring Ohio.  Where do you want to head next?

Ready? Set! Go!

21C Museum Hotel

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Avalon Inn & Resort

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

Bayberry House B&B

The Blackwell Hotel & Pfahl Conference Center

Buckeye Fans Unite @ this Luxury Lodging in the Heart of Columbus

The Cincinnatian Hotel

The Cincinnatian Hotel is an historic, boutique hotel in the heart of Cincinnati

Cobblestone Hotel & Suites Orrville

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

Fairfield Inn & Suites Cleveland Beachwood

Harrison House B&B

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

Hilton Netherland Plaza

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

Holiday Inn Canton

New Lodging around Ohio

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dayton Mall/I-675

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

Home2 Suite by Hilton Independence

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Hyatt Place Lyndurst/Legacy Village

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade

Great lodging in Downtown Cleveland

Kalahari Waterpark & Resort

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

The Kimpton Schofield Hotel

Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center at the University of Cincinnati

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Landoll’s Mohican Castle

An Ohio castle getaway - perfect for a staycation or romantic weekend away!

Mill Pond Acre B&B

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

The Mills Park Hotel

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

Orchard House B&B 

Ever dreamed of a fairytale wedding? Check out this off the beaten path Ohio wedding venue!

Residence Inn by Marriott Cleveland/Avon at the Emerald Event Center

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Residence Inn by Marriott Wheeling – St. Clairsville

Extended Stay Lodging in Eastern Ohio

Sawmill Creek Resort & Conference Center

Great unique lodging on Lake Erie shores - Huron, Sandusky area

Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

St. Paul Hotel Wooster

Great urban Ohio getaways lead us to the St. Paul Hotel in downtown Wooster!

The Timberlanes Inn (coming soon!)

New Lodging around Ohio

Victorian Village Guesthouse

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

Vineyard Woods

The Wallhouse Hotel Walnut Creek

A Visit to Ohio Amish Country can have an Upscale Lodging Twist at The Wallhouse Hotel

The Westin Columbus

Visit this Columbus Landmark, an Historic Hotel of America

Here’s to another year of discovery. After all, OHIOFind it here.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck