A to the C at Pinecrest

My first trip to see an AC Hotel led me to Beachwood, Ohio, just thirty minutes outside of downtown Cleveland. This hotel is unique in that it sits within a shopping, dining and entertainment destination; a brand new development called Pinecrest.AC Hotel - Beachwood

The hotel is so fresh and so new. I parked behind the hotel and walked the sidewalk to the the two-story bright entry. I entered through the glass doors and there was a bellman stand, an elevator, and a contemporary wrapping stairway to the second floor. A long sleek chandelier hung from the ceiling to the first floor.AC Hotel - Beachwood

I went up the steps *carefully* as I could not help to look around out the windows at Pinecrest. I approached the second floor lobby and was surprised to see how open it was, I could see from the top of the staircase clear across the hotel.

I was quickly greeted at the back-lit modern front desk. I had some time to explore and I did just that. The open concept of the lobby area is so inviting. I walked around and loved seeing the vases, artwork and unexpected finds. Sleek lines is apparent through the furniture and tables. I LOVED the ceiling, it had wood accents and large white pendant lights. Subtle colors mix well with the neutral palette. The u-shape bar faces the stairway with a suspended square lighting feature. The lounge contributes to the overall feeling with tapa-style menu items, custom cocktails, an excellent list of Spanish wines and craft beers.

The entire wall to the right of me is floor to ceiling windows which allows for excellent natural light and an opportunity for every guest to connect with the bustling environment outside. There is a terrace accessible from the lobby with seating. Guests can enjoy beverages and snacks from anywhere in the lobby & terrace areas.

I appreciated the set-up of the property with a great natural flow and its manageable size. As I continued down a lit hallway I came across a boardroom with one side featuring windows and the other an all glass wall which led out to another public work space and business center.

I next noticed sliding barn-like doors that stood tall and revealed a full breakfast area. Unique to AC, their breakfast focuses on European flair and has items like croissants, prosciutto and egg tarts. (Croissants and prosciutto are basically my two favorite things, so, you can imagine my excitement!)

I then got to see a sleeping room. The sleeping rooms are just as stylish! My number one favorite design characteristic is that everything is lit. The walls are lit, the bench in the sleeping room is lit, the seating area outside of elevators is lit. The lighting really gives a warm feeling to the contemporary design.AC Hotel - Beachwood

The holidays are right around the corner. I can only imagine the Pinecrest destination will be decorated in all its splendor; what a great time of year to go visit the AC Beachwood AND get your holiday shopping done in style.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

AC Hotel - Beachwood

 

 

Sophistication in the Queen City

Sophisticated. Timeless. Modern. Historic. All words that I would use to describe the Renaissance located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. You know the feeling when you enter a swanky place and you immediately feel the vibe and you get a little excited? That’s how I felt walking into the Renaissance.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

It was a blustery day during my visit to the Queen City, so I was happy to have grabbed a piping hot bowl of tomato bisque and the best caprese salad at the Renaissance’s restaurant D. Burnham’s (the name pays tribute to the building’s architect, Daniel Burnham).

I was led down a short hallway with lit floor boards into a cozy and amazingly chic spot with a fabulous dining atmosphere on one side of the bar and a lounge-style space on the other. There is an array of seating options from free-standing sofas to high top tables. Various fabrics and pillows in different colors contribute visual interest. I enjoyed having a moment to savor my fresh lunch and plug-in to catch up.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

Known as the Bartlett Building and the former Union Trust Building, the Renaissance has a refreshing take on mixing the old with the new. Previously a bank, the hotel boasts gorgeous gold elevator bays, marble walls, and distinctive pieces of its’ past. The arched ceiling of the ballroom with exposed gold metal balconies brings home this spaces’ glory. The modernization of the building is evident through the seating areas, light fixtures and artwork.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

Pictured below is by far one of the coolest seating areas in a lobby I have ever seen (…my favorite color is also black, which is likely why I am obsessing over these chairs and generally all the décor in this place!). Key attributes are the original gold vent detailing, the extra large black lamps and of course, the chairs. Also found along the hallways are contemporary black and white portraits of kings and queens paying homage to city’s nickname, the Queen City.

Renaissance Cincinnati, OhioThe sleeping rooms are just as chic with a mix of lighter gray and white tones with splashes of black, metallic silver, and fun patterns. The bathroom is noteworthy. One wall covered in a funky wallpaper and a frosted design on the mirror really makes the design exciting.

After exploring this contemporary hotel, I got the “behind the scenes tour” of areas of the original bank that remains within the building. It is just incredible. I am so happy to see another hotel being designed and built within a historic building. I’ve shared two photos from the bank below. I’m mesmerized by the past and present of this building. If only the walls could talk…

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Renaissance Cincinnati, OH

Renaissance Cincinnati, OH

Here Comes the Future!

It is hard to believe we are well into October, my favorite time of year, and approaching the end of another amazing year of growth in our industry statewide. We’ve added new first-time brands in the state, are adding rooms to existing properties and local flare & innovation is all the rage.Canopy by Hilton - Nationwide Blvd.

Looking at the blogs of the past, there are certainly familiar themes that connect them all in some way. Lifestyle brands, creative marketing, leaders challenging the status quo and the importance of your service culture.

Now, more than ever, OHLA focus’ on empowering our upcoming leaders through education and workforce development opportunities. Many of the commonalities will be addressed at our upcoming Annual Conference this November to help prepare our industry for the future.

What is behind the mass emergence of the Lifestyle Brands?All Brands

Multiple major lifestyle brand developments are happening essentially simultaneously in Columbus, within just a few miles of each other. It is a major BOOM for the area!

AC Hotel by Marriott (Park St.)

Aloft by Marriott (Olentangy River Rd.)

Aloft by Marriott (Easton Town Center, Alston St.)

Canopy by Hilton (Arena District – Nationwide Blvd.)

Moxy by Marriott (Short North Arts District – High St.)

In the Northwest region of our state development of a Tru by Hilton and a proposed AVID by IHG is in the pipeline. In Northeast, another Tru and near Cincinnati an Aloft. Best Western is also at the forefront with brands like Glo & Vib.

What questions do you have about these brands? Brand longevity? Differences between them? Hear from our Lifestyle Brand Panelists: Jenny Aboudou,Senior Brand Manager, Canopy by Hilton; Michael VanAkkeren, Senior Director – Marriott Global Operations Design & Development, Distinctive Brands; Michael Morton, Vice President of Owner Relations, Best Western; Kip Vreeland, Chief Officer of Full Service Franchising, Marriott International.Moxy Rendering - Columbus, OH

Brands like these are trying to give the ultimate local, fresh, new vibe that our younger and up and coming travelers yearn for. Our Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) properties are truly already hitting the nail on the head. From a one bedroom guest house, to cabins in the Hocking Hills area, to a 200-room independent hotel. Each of these properties present a unique experience for their guest. Some of our properties have renowned restaurants, excellent spas, all encompassed within a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

WelshHills - Granville, OHWe will be presenting our ULO Property of the year award at our annual Gala to pay tribute to a very special ULO. Last year, The Welsh Hills in was our winner. This award-winning Bed & Breakfast is nestled in the historic Granville’s Welsh Hills Equestrian Countryside. It is complete with perfectly appointed guest rooms, a complete signature breakfast each morning and picturesque courtyard with a heated pool. (If you have stayed at, work in or have worked with a ULO property; we want to hear about it! Submit a ULO Property of the Year nomination!)

Industry progression is marked with innovation and technology. The Westin & Marriott brands are embracing this through Amazon Alexa Echo, to offer a voice activated hotel butler of sorts. Need more towels? Ask Alexa! We are driven on warm, fuzzy hospitality. Are you as curious as I am on how integrations such as this may work and affect our clientele? We’ll be hearing from Greg Pappas from Evolve Controls, who will walk us through what the hotel integration looks like. Evolve Controls works with Volara to integrate solutions such as those listed above: voice activated thermostats with Honeywell and concierge services with Amazon Alexa.

There is A LOT happening in our state and industry and we are here to help you manage it. I hope to see you at our annual conference this November to learn, network and toast to our future!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Curiosities at The Cincinnatian Hotel

Since 1882, this building has been a landmark hotel and is included on the registry of Historic Hotels of America. This property has withstood the test of time and is most recently known as The Cincinnatian Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, which stands as the first Curio Collection property in our state.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

The gem that is The Cincinnatian is polished and shiny all over again. Throughout the hotel, reminders of Cincinnati’s history and the remarkable architecture of the property is preserved. Walking in there is an atrium-esque lobby area. However, it was not always an atrium, I learned that there was an interior fire some time ago and to maintain the property, the interior damaged rooms were removed. (Crazy, right?) Now the atrium, has made way for a vast skylight, which allows natural light to overflow the space.

Let’s back up for a second and talk about the lobby. The décor is impeccable. With unique pieces of furniture, bright colors, and Cincinnati related artwork. Several pieces struck a chord with me: a horizontal colorful image of the Cincinnati skyline that was folded to create dimension, a fun & bright rendering of President William Howard Taft and my favorite a wall of 90 framed beverage napkins. (Yes, I said beverage napkins! We will come back to this one.)The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

I could have spent most of my day admiring the fun artwork but I also had to pop my head into their dining options. First, their grab & go or made to order outlet, Hannaford Market. A great place to grab breakfast or lunch with white tile lined walls and the menu featured on a floor to ceiling chalkboard. Gliding barn-like doors opened to extra dining space or a potential private area. Within this space was my favorite piece(s) of art. Time to circle back to the wall of 90 framed beverage napkins.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

Each napkin featured a hand sketched Cincinnati-related piece of art, such as a three-way from Skyline Chili, a queen’s crown representing the Queen City or Fiona the famed premature hippo born at Cincinnati’s Zoo. It was so unique and interesting that I had to take a few minutes and look at each individual sketch for its meaning.

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OHAt the busy intersection of Vine Street & Sixth Street, sits the very new Brick & Mortar, an upscale gastropub with a locally-influenced menu. The concept revolves around a large 4 sided bar surrounded by a mix of seating options. Again, the decor is perfect! Comfortable couches and ottomans under an array of various light fixtures, offer a great place to relax or catch up with friends.

The front desk is just as colorful as the path I took to get there (my path was the long way). Behind the desk is a floor to ceiling custom mosaic tile that is a replica of the ceiling from the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal featuring vibrant shades of orange and yellow.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

I made my way  to see the updated accommodations that featured a great mix of balance between a peaceful subdued palette with splashes of color through more art. As I made my way back down to the lobby, instead of the elevator, I opted for the stunning, original oak staircase which is such a statement.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

It is safe to say, The Cincinnatian Hotel is back in its glory and has set the bar high for other Curio Collection hotels that will follow. Curious about other Curio properties? Log-in to MyOHLA for the New Construction Pipeline!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

There is Something About Avalon

There is a lot to be said about The Avalon Inn & Resort in the Northeastern corner of our state and my hometown, Warren, Ohio. I was back in Warren for a wedding (imagine that!) and had the opportunity to stay the night at this local Inn. The Avalon Inn & Resort is nestled alongside Avalon Lakes which is a legendary golf course that was designed by famous golf course architect, John Dye. The Inn itself offers excellent views of the course from entry, many of the sleeping rooms and the Grand Pavilion event space which offers a panoramic view of the course with its’ floor to ceiling windows.

When you are done with this read, I encourage you to take a look at their online magazine!

For some time, Avalon has been the premiere destination for various golf tournaments, outings and special events. I have fond memories of attending several LPGA tournaments as a young girl with my parents at Avalon and if I am being completely honest, I still have my Tweety Bird visor adorned with several autographs.

The Inn is charming with a classic approach to a modern time with white and brick exterior. Coming up the steps and through the main entrance I look out ahead and can see a sneak peek of the course. Before I get too far, I am warmly welcomed by the hospitable team (and many more times throughout my stay). I check-in quickly and am handed a sleek black and gold envelope with my key cards and onto room 163!

Avalon Inn & Resort - Warren, OHOur accommodations were spacious, comfortable, updated and quite lovely. The hallways have accents of black and foil gold patterned walls with white wood paneling. The same vibe carried on into the sleeping rooms with gray and charcoal metallic wall coverings. Our room had a large mini-fridge and coffee station (some of my most important things when traveling!). Oh, and the beds were SO comfortable!

While visiting Avalon there is quite the array of things to do such as hit the course for 18, take a swim in their large indoor pool, take care of all your fitness routines in their recreation center, hop on the shuttle to a sister property (Avalon at Buhl Park and Squaw Creek) to enjoy the spa or other golf options. Gatsby’s, Lobby Bar  and The Chophouse are all dining and lounge options. Gatsby’s  and The Chophouse are both obvious options in the area when looking for steak, seafood, pasta or an extensive wine list.

This property is also one of the most highly recommended for events. From their ballroom to the Grand Pavilion, these spaces are easy to make your own but do not require you to. They are beautiful spaces different in their own right.Avalon Inn & Resort - Warren, OH

I am sure you are thinking, “Wow! They really have it all!”. Well my friends, Avalon continues to grow and improve their guest experience. Currently, they are mid-construction on an outdoor, multi-tiered pool and lounge area and the renderings are beautiful!

If you are searching for an overnight where comfort, hospitality, golf and food unite, this is your spot!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Dual Properties, Oh My!

Across the brands and across the state we are seeing an increase in dual branded properties. Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Choice Hotels are some of the brands we are keeping an eye on as they expand in Ohio. As hoteliers, owners and management companies hone in on market trends, today’s society and the future traveler we have seen changes amongst the industry. Inclusive of the emergence of lifestyle brands and the phenomenon that is dual-branded properties.

The concept itself aims to encompass the needs of a market by providing different cost segments under one roof. By having two brands under one roof, the guest has an opportunity to experience the best of both brands while on the hotel’s side there is opportunity for savings in areas such as labor and back of house operations.

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

TownePlace & Springhill Suites by Marriott Easton
Opening October 2018

I had the privilege to participate in a hardhat tour of the soon-to-be open TownePlace Suites and Springhill Suites by Marriott at Easton. This dual concept is well underway with an opening date of mid-October and it is bound to impress. The design concept is fresh and bright and is carried seamlessly between the two hotels. (I am really hoping I can get a few names for the wall vinyl, wall art designs and light fixtures, they are awesome!) The common area and lobby are shared between the properties, which offers expanded options and outlets for all guests. Partnerships have been developed at the brand level with popular stores such as Springhill Suites with West Elm and TownePlace Suites with the Container Store. (See below for a few additional pics from my tour!)

 

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels Dual Concepts
Groundbreaking 2018

We have two dual concepts from Choice Hotels coming to Ohio offering two combinations. In Logan and scheduled to break ground this year, Sleep Inn & Mainstay Suites and a Comfort Suites & Mainstay Suites near Cincinnati, also looking at a 2018 groundbreaking. These properties will speak to the midscale segment and offer accommodations for extended stay and transient travelers alike.

 

Marriott Columbus University Area

Marriott and Residence Inn Columbus University Area
Opened August 2017

Celebrating their one-year anniversary this past August, this property was a first for Marriott International as it was the first time a full-service Marriott and an extended stay Residence Inn were featured as a dual property. Residence Inn guests enjoy all the wonderful amenities that come with the Residence Inn brand, but by being connected to a Marriott receive even more. Such as access to a full-service restaurant and lounge, extensive on-site event space and full culinary team behind the daily hot breakfast buffet and evening socials. What a combo!

A few others that are on their way & recently opened: Homewood Suites & Hampton Inn Cincinnati Downtown, Home2 & Tru by Hilton Grove City, Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites Toledo, the list goes on… Did you know OHLA publishes a New Construction Pipeline quarterly? It is available in the MyOHLA tab for members. Contact Lauren with questions!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Additional pictures from my hardhat tour of TownePlace & Springhill Suites by Marriott …

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Something is Brewing in Canal Winchester

BrewDog known for its Punk IPA and Elvis Juice brews, opened its’ first United States brewery in Canal Winchester last year and now has opened Ohio’s first brewery-hotel, DogHouse Columbus Hotel. This 32-room boutique property is the epitome of a beer lovers dream.BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OHA sidewalk leads you past the brewery on the left and the dog park on the right, straight ahead is the entry for the hotel. Walking into to this lobby is different. It’s a comfortable, welcoming, be-a-part-of-our-family, order-a-beer, take-a-load-off kind of lobby. What better atmosphere to wait for your room to be ready in? Looking to check-in? Visit the bar to receive your key (a REAL key on a wooden keychain baring the BrewDog logo).

The lobby (I’m not sure what else to refer to it as, but lobby doesn’t feel right…. The communal area?) is furnished in rich colors, relaxed lounge furniture, neon signs, cool books, a ping pong table and grab & go snacks. My favorite neon sign is centered above the bar and reads “Welcome to the Hotel California DogHouse”.BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

I then went up to the third floor which was made clear as I stepped off the elevator to a full scale ‘03’ made of stacked beer cans. Turning the corner, I immediately looked into the open atrium, a part of the brewery. A quiet place where magic is made. Some suites, such as the BrewMaster Suite, has garage-like windows that open to the brewery. Each room is notably named after one of BrewDog’s brews such as Hazy Jane.BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

Now, what you’ve been waiting for… the sleeping accommodations. All the rumors are true. Yes, there is lovely smelling soaps and lotions made with Elvis Juice and its’ light grapefruit fragrance. Yes, there is a beer draught for your convenience in the room. Yes, there is a beer fridge also in the room with a mixture of canned beers. Yes, there is a shower fridge (notably my husband’s favorite feature). What is a shower fridge? Well, it sits just outside of the shower and is there if you are feeling thirsty mid-shower (or ladies… while you are blow drying your hair? Am I right?).BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

Outside of being a beer lover, are you a dog lover too? Good news for you! A few of the ground level rooms are dog friendly. I don’t think this place can get any better. Spend the night, enjoy BrewDog’s full-service restaurant & brewery and innovative accommodations with your furry companion (and there is a dog park adjacent to the hotel!).BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

The property also features a breakfast for overnight guests featuring local flare such as Stauf’s coffee.

If this doesn’t make you want to drop what you are doing and check availability, I don’t know what will. There is so much pride in this project and the employees certainly exude the excitement. I think we can all agree, we, as an industry are just as excited to have this groundbreaking property in Ohio.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

Renaissance Era in Toledo (No pun intended.)

“Holy Toledo! Either that bird hit a landmine, or you just shot down a kamikaze pigeon!” Quick! Name that show! You guessed it, M*A*S*H. I am sure you are wondering, “Lauren, why are you pulling a quote from M*A*S*H?”. Boy, do I have a reason!Renaissance Toledo, OH

I traveled to our Northwest Lodging Council last week and had the opportunity to stay, enjoy and embrace the not-like-any-other Renaissance Toledo. In every way, this hotel pays homage to the city of Toledo. From being the “Glass City”, to Jeep manufacturing and yes, its’ famous connection to the television series M*A*S*H.Renaissance Toledo, OH

I arrived late in the evening and was ready to check-in, eat and sleep. From the moment I entered the lobby, I felt the innovation and excitement. (Toledo is often referenced as the Glass City due to its long history of glass manufacturing but is also known for its automotive industry. Toledo is the Jeep headquarters! These two facts are important to note as I tell you more about this property.) As I approached the faces of the front desks I immediately posed the question “What is this desk made of?”. The answer? Molds a glass blower would use when creating a glass vase, bowl, etc.Renaissance Toledo, OH

I then went on to walk to the elevators but before I got there I had to stop and take a picture of the military Jeep parked right in the lobby. The Jeep reminiscent of Willy’s Jeep in the M*A*S*H TV series. A Jeep in the lobby? That’s neat. I then went up to my room (I was upgraded to an amazing corner suite that looked out over the river! Thank you, Renaissance team!)Renaissance Toledo, OH

The rooms are just beautiful and are certainly just as unique as the lobby. The industrial design is comfortable and modern. The very first thing I noticed were that the hooks that hung on the wall were actual red Jeep hooks! Other notable elements is the M*A*S*H artwork in the bedroom and the bathroom mirror that pictured a lit half full glass of water and read “1/2 air and 1/2 water. Technically, the glass is always full.” (Which is my new favorite quote!)Renaissance Toledo, OH

After Oohing and aweing over the room I headed to the rooftop lounge, The Heights. Rightfully named as it offered views of the city and the river with indoor and outdoor seating and the loveliest wood-fired pizzas! I ordered the hummus served with pickled vegetables which was delightful and a four-cheese pizza which I took back to my room to enjoy and continue my 15-but-never-finished Netflix series.

The next day I learned more about the sleeping room design and it all clicked! The sleeping rooms are designed after a glass blower’s studio. Made possible with details such as the chaise in the bedroom which has a fabric like denim and a brown leather pouch hanging over with magazines that is comparable to a leather apron.Renaissance Toledo, OH

With the growth Toledo & Northwestern Ohio is experiencing it is safe to say they truly are in a Renaissance era and this property keeps the history and roots of Toledo alive.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Renaissance Toledo, OH

Renaissance Toledo, OH

Southern Elegance in ATL

To mark the milestone of my very first business trip, I’m sharing my recent experience down in the very toasty, vibrant city of Atlanta, where I had the privilege of spending two nights at The Whitley, formerly known as the Ritz Carlton Buckhead.

The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

The Whitley, located in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood north of downtown, is the setting for a series of conferences my company is hosting throughout the summer. As I work in communications, I had the privilege of attending our Marketing & Communication Meeting, which was held there earlier this month.

I recall our meetings departments being surprised when we were told late last year that the hotel they booked would soon no longer be the Ritz Carlton as it had been for three decades. Instead, it would be rebranded as The Whitley, A Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott/Starwood. Just short of a year later and there I was, getting to see the result.

Before reaching the hotel, I took a very efficient trip on the MARTA train from the airport, followed by a very sweaty walk from the station to The Whitley. I once read that Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a tribute to southern pride and a reference to the devil coming from the The Union (hence why he came “down”), but I’m pretty sure it’s just because Georgia is so, so hot.

But I digress.

The Whitley - Atlanta, GAAfter reading a few blurbs here and there from different Atlanta media outlets, I learned that the changes to the property came from the industry moving away from the very formal style that used to be so popular in hotels and into a more contemporary, casual future. From what I’ve heard, it has long been the place for celebrity parties and very sophisticated activities like an Afternoon Tea. The landmark Ritz Carlton property went through some big renovations to align with the Luxury Collection brand, and is now billed as “luxury with chic Southern style.”

The hotel sits on Peachtree Road, which if you can believe, is one of 55 “Peachtree” streets in the state of Georgia, and faces the famed Lenox Square, a very posh mall that is referred to fairly frequently in rap songs (sidenote: I did NOT see T.I.  or Andre 3000 while visiting).

I walked into The Whitley lobby and felt a little bit like I was on the Titanic. I know, that sounds overly dramatic. But I was there for business, so I was picturing brightly lit, sleek furniture, I-need-to-hop-on-this-call aesthetics. This lobby, with its elaborate, purple-accented chandelier, dark wood finishes, ornately-framed artwork and beautiful sit-like-a-lady armchairs, made me think of a more formal, elegant time. In my ripe old age of 26, I prefer it this way. You don’t see that so much anymore, so to me, it’s cool.The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

I never saw the property as a Ritz, but in my exploration through its halls I felt like they did an excellent job mixing that elegant “formal” charm with contemporary, more casual touches that leisure and business travelers alike have come to expect. Its website claims that it now boasts cosmopolitan style as well as timeless elegance, so I think I’m on the right track.

The lobby, with its various candy jars and its own coffee shop, all of which I had to resist breaking my sugar diet for, melts into a lounge area that wonderfully mixes more eclectic artwork with cozy couches (blankets included!) and a bright, colorful bar.

Around each corner were tall, luxurious-looking armchairs that I always expected to find someone hiding behind. Shout out to my coworker, Maggie, for taking a picture of me on one of those sophisticated lavender sofas.The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

I also had the privilege of somehow getting a room on the very top, 22nd floor, where I got a cool view of Buckhead with downtown in the background.

I will admit I was a tiny bit intimidated being down there at first. It was my first business trip, and despite having been to a handful of foreign countries, it was only the second time I’ve ever flown without my family (mild flight anxiety over here!). However, between the views, a clean room, a cozy bathrobe, the elegant décor and the friendly vibes, I felt as at-home as one could feel when plucked out of Ohio and placed in the middle of the deep South. So for that, I extend a warm, northern “Thank you!” to The Whitley for having me!

Almost Heaven – In Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsHocking Hills is about an hour from our home in Columbus, so this was the perfect way to getaway for a quick night.  We packed our bags and headed out.  Once you turn off the highway, cell phone coverage goes by the wayside. If you’re like me and you’re constantly hearing ding-ding-ding from your cell phone, the little ‘x’ above your reception bar is glorious. We USED A MAP to get to Conkle’s Hollow, a trail I haven’t been on before. There are two options – a paved out and back which takes you to a handful of waterfalls; or a rim trail that is a little bit more challenging.  We were running behind (too many tacos at Condado on the way out of town) so we opted for the shorter trail.  The shade and silence was so refreshing after leaving a busy morning of work behind and it was the perfect way to lay the groundwork for a fantastic trip.

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsEventually we made our way (with our map!!) to Cherry Ridge Retreat. The adults only retreat is located in New Plymouth, a few miles from Hocking Hills and a little off the beaten path.  The property prides itself in privacy and seclusion, each of its 9 cabins nestled into a perfect place in the woods.

Our cabin, Whispering Pines, came complete with a grill, fireplace, private pond, and hot tub, but my favorite characteristic was the massive picture window overlooking the forest.  I could have sat there all evening, but TJ was ready to explore.  Although the individual cabins are extremely private, there is a communal gazebo and lake meant for socializing with your “neighbors”.Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

We followed the trail from our cabin down to the lake, TJ totally prepared with his fishing pole!  The lake was amazing. For the fisherman, it is stocked with blue gill and bass and catch & release fishing is welcomed.  For the exhausted mom, sun soaked lounge chairs beckoned.Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsIt’s easy to work up an appetite hiking in Hocking Hills.  Cherry Ridge Retreat has a list of great restaurants in the area, but I recommend bringing your own food and cooking up a wonderful meal.  You can dine inside at the bar or alfresco at the picnic table overlooking your private pond.  We took advantage of the Fire Package providing guests with all of the tools needed for a fantastic bonfire, and in my case, s’mores!

 

As summer is slowly fading to fall and Ohio’s foliage will be at its best, consider booking a night at Cherry Ridge Retreat.  You won’t regret immersing yourself in nature with some luxury amenities. Next time I visit, I want to see The Observatory CabinCherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

(Pro Tip: Stop by Kindred Spirits at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls for a fantastic breakfast on your way out of town!)The Inn at Cedar Falls - Hocking Hills

 

Here are a few extra pics to share from our cabin!

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills