Where the Bobcats Sleep

Nestled along the scenic backdrop of the Hocking Hills is Athens, OH. Athens is most famously home to the State of Ohio’s oldest college and home of the Bobcats, Ohio University. With a stunning campus and vibrant uptown scene, Athens is frequently named a top college town in the nation year after year. Growing up in Northeast Ohio and attending college in Columbus, I had never been to Athens but was in for a wonderful experience seeing this jewel along the Hocking River.

OU Inn & Conference Center

I had the opportunity to stay at the Ohio University Inn & Conference Center, and the inn matched the classic design seen throughout the campus architecture with an all-brick exterior, white pillars and window frames.

The unmistakable university colors of white and cutler green carried through the lobby, sleeping rooms and convention spaces. The main lobby featured a beautiful mural of campus with modern seating and workspaces.

Continuing through the lobby leads you to a pair of on-site dining options Cutler’s and Bunch of Grapes Tavern. Cutler’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with elevated comfort food selections while the tavern focuses on lighter fare such as flatbreads & sandwiches.

OU Inn & Conference Center

When the evening arrived, I enjoyed dinner in Cutler’s dining room. It was a nice feature to be able to order from either menu (Cutler’s or the tavern) within. The university color scheme carried on through the restaurant and tavern with eclectic patterns and table accents. One area that I loved was in front of a fireplace and had winged, white & cutler green houndstooth chairs around a large square table. It is cozy space where I could see myself enjoying with friends. Locally crafted tealight lanterns adorned the tables and we were greeted with warm, fluffy biscuits.

OU Inn & Conference Center

The sleeping accommodations were spacious and comfortable with extra features such as a microwave and mini-fridge. The conference facilities were also a perfect option for a meeting or event with a full selection of audio/visual, catering and wonderful team members to support you along the way.

OU Inn & Conference Center

My trip was a short one, and I hope to return to explore more of Athens’ scenic landscapes as well as all the fun Court Street and Uptown have to offer.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Perfectly in View

My  husband and I recently traveled to Weehawken, New Jersey for a wedding weekend. For those who love the Big Apple, I must tell ya, this location is perfect to explore New York City and enjoy the nearby neighborhoods of Weehawken.

We stayed at the EnVue Autograph Collection Hotel. EnVue means “In View” and this location had just that… oh, what a view! The hotel is a stones throw away from the Hudson River and the spectacular NYC skyline. We were on our way to check-in and rode the elevator to the 6th floor. As the elevator doors opened, sunlight beamed in, and our eyes soon focused on the beautiful panoramic view of Manhattan.

The lobby served a few purposes. By day, it was a place to relax or grab a bite to eat, in the evening it transformed into Marcus at NoHu Rooftop with indoor and expansive outdoor rooftop seating and full dinner & craft cocktail menu, by night it underwent a complete transformation with alternative lighting, a DJ, and dancing.

Mirrors, metals, and dark modern colors offered a certain level of glamour in its design and this theme carried throughout the lobby, rooftop bar and the sleeping rooms. When we arrived to our room I was relieved to see the Safe Stay® seal. Just knowing that our room was appropriately cleaned & sanitized with no reentry gave my husband & I both peace of mind. Our room was sleek, well-appointed, and comfortable.  

My favorite part about staying at this property is the location. We love to travel, we love NYC but this location was a game changer for getting in and out of the city. Typically, we’d take a car, subway or walk anywhere we needed to get to in the city. Here, we walked out the front door, across the street and hopped on an 8-minute ferry ride across the Hudson River to Manhattan via the NY Waterway Ferry Service. It was easy, timely and affordable… 10/10!

Our time was short but due to the convenience of the location we were able to spend a lot of time in Manhattan where we visited several restaurants, pubs, and shops! We also had the opportunity to visit Hoboken for dinner, golf and enjoy the wedding festivities.

Though our flight got cancelled on our return to Columbus; this was a great (quick) trip!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Lock In a Unique Stay!

It’s Linda again and I’m back as a guest blogger, as my husband and I are known for seeking out cool places to stay across the state. And as of 2021, now I can’t say that I have never spent a night in jail!

Vermilion Jailhouse B&B

Although the Old Vermilion Jailhouse Bed & Breakfast is in fact a former jail, the amenities were quite an upgrade since its days as a jailhouse. The Jailhouse is a small B&B for 4 friends or family, sharing a unique space that was in fact the former Vermilion jail, and before that, the library!  Owners Markos and Marla didn’t miss a single detail during the building’s renovation into the quaint B&B that it is today, converting former cells into three guestrooms and a bathroom. Guests are provided with shampoo and luxurious towels, breakfast and other goodies like cheeses and chocolates are tucked away in the provided refrigerator.

While the Jailhouse provides guests with all of the luxury amenities of a great B&B, the owners didn’t miss an opportunity to play homage to the comforts a prisoner would have enjoyed such as the play handcuffs (which brought out gales of laughter) and the prison pajamas. All jokes aside, with a great stereo system and large flat screen TV, many prisoners would be happy.

Vermilion Jailhouse B&B

The Old Vermilion Jailhouse B&B is located in the Historic Harbour Town District, home to shopping, dining and beaches. If you’re looking to make a trip out or a visit to Vermilion, check out our favorite restaurant, Chez François, located just a few steps away from the B&B, making it the perfect location to be thrown into and locked up safe and sound for the night!

We are always on the lookout for what makes Ohio unique, and this is definitely one of the more unique places we’ve ever stayed. The four of us were very satisfied with their overnight stay and can’t wait to return!

Vermilion Jailhouse B&B

The Home of Bigfoot

How do you make the most out of a 3-year-old’s birthday when you can’t have a party because of a pandemic? 

  • Grandparents
  • A Swimming Pool
  • Bigfoot

And as far as I know, there’s only one place in Ohio where we could find all of those things in one place – Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center.  Lauren and I had visited Salt Fork a few years back and although I wished we were back on the water in the afternoon summer sun, we were visiting on a cold, rainy weekend in February, but we had a birthday to celebrate with grandparents and the weather wasn’t going to stop my kiddo from making the most out of his 3rd birthday.

Salt Fork

We packed up the car and drove to Salt Fork, an easy drive just under 2 hours from Columbus.  Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center is one of eight State Park Lodges that are part of the Great Ohio Lodges family, and it boasts cabins, lodge rooms, lots of meeting space, two pools, marina access, miles of hiking and equestrian trails and lots of other outdoor activities, all nestled in the heart of Salt Fork State Park.

Salt Fork recently renovated their lodge rooms and we had selected the bunk rooms since we had two kids with us. Lane thought the bunk in the wall was basically the coolest thing ever (“like a fort!”), so we could have been done with the birthday surprises there and called it a success…but, we had been cooped up for almost a year and we were ready to hit the pool.  The indoor pool was warm, not overcrowded and just what we needed at the end of a long, cold Ohio winter.

After hours in the pool and a great dinner, we retired to our rooms for cupcakes and presents.  One of the great bonus features of all the lodge rooms is the extra living space. It was easy for us to spread out, play cards and enjoy each other’s company. When the weather is more in your favor, guests can expand their living space onto the balconies that overlook the lake or the pool, a feature in every lodge guest room!

Salt Fork

After a busy weekend of swimming, we had to make sure to say hi to and hold hands with Bigfoot one last time before we headed home.  If you didn’t know, Salt Fork has allegedly been the home to bigfoot since the mid-1700s with several reported sightings. Each year, the Annual Bigfoot Conference happens here, the longest running Bigfoot Conference in the world. To learn more about the Annual Bigfoot Conference or Creature Weekend, visit the Visit Guernsey County Website.    

Salt Fork

Hospitality Inn the Hills

Labor Day weekend is always a special time of year for me; not only because it is the official turning point into Fall (in my mind) but it is also the weekend I got married back in 2015. For our 5th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something special, however, being in the midst of a pandemic and having a new baby at home didn’t exactly make planning easy.

Welsh Hills Inn

We found ourselves wanting a safe getaway for just us two where we could relax and enjoy the weather and each other’s company and we found the PERFECT place to do just that at the Welsh Hills Inn. Located just 40 minutes east of Columbus in Granville.

Not only was this our first venture during the pandemic, but it was also our first time away from our baby boy, Leo, who was born in February. We jam packed our weekend with food, wine and outdoor enjoyment.

We headed to Granville on Saturday morning, a lovely little town if you’ve never been, and we enjoyed lunch at The Pub on Broadway, walked to see the historic Granville Inn and grabbed a cold brew for the road from Village Coffee Company. Next stop: Welsh Hills Inn.

Welsh Hills Inn

We traveled a short distance through rolling hills of green and sunshine and pulled into the driveway to our oasis atop the hill. The minute our tires hit the parking area we were warmly greeted by a fluffy little character named Wrigley. Wrigley is one of four gracious hosts at the inn; Ellie the Golden Retriever and the sweet and welcoming owners, Jeff & Bobbi Noe. Wrigley & Ellie would soon become a staple of our weekend; we just did not know that yet.

Welsh Hills Inn

Wrigley quickly urged us along to the entrance, stopping along the path to ensure we were following. Jeff welcomed us and showed us to our suite, the Brynmor Luxe Suite (& Wrigley’s favorite spot in the inn). The suite is complete with a living area and bar top. The entire inn is decorated with a certain New England charm and curated artwork and artifacts throughout. One of my favorite activities was to wander and see what book I could snag or new artwork I could learn about.

While visiting, we took advantage of their bocce courts under string lights; enjoyed a private fire pit while sipping our favorite wine; indulged in massages; relaxed in the hot tub & poolside and attempted to lay in the hammocks. There are also trails, bike rentals, arranged picnics, yoga classes, a stocked fishing pond and more for guests to schedule to enhance their stay. (Click here for picturesque drone footage of Welsh Hills Inn.)

In the evenings, while the sun was setting, we would sit on the wrap around porch in rocking chairs and enjoy Jeff & Bobbi’s curated wine & cheese “happy hour”, an opportunity for guests to mingle in a non-pandemic world. By morning, we’d dive in to the most scrumptious breakfast offerings comprised of locally sourced ingredients and cooked to perfection both mornings.

Welsh Hills Inn

In celebration of our anniversary, we opted to have a candlelight dinner on their beautiful veranda. It was a perfect end to a magical and much needed stay. We were again treated to a delicious multi-course meal that left us wishing Jeff was a permanent fixture in our kitchen.

Welsh Hills Inn is a special place- it’s warm, inviting, charming… but, what really makes it so special is the hospitality and genuine care of Jeff & Bobbi and their sidekicks Wrigley & Ellie.

I am ready to hit “go” on travel again and hope to be sharing with you many ventures in 2021.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Meet Wrigley – Pictured here on the couch within our suite and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Welsh Hills Inn

Planning your summer trips & holiday weekends? Check out www.uniquelodgingofohio.com.

A Dome to Call Home

Hi, I’m Jackie, Halle’s sister. Like most brides, I always envisioned jetting off to some across-the-sea adventure honeymoon after my wedding, be it to white sand beaches or some picturesque European city. Fast forward to the highly stressful act of wedding planning in a pandemic, and that reality was put on hold.

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Lucky for me and my husband, Chase, we don’t even have to leave the state of Ohio to get that picturesque, romantic Mini Moon while we await the days when international travel becomes truly realistic again.

Following our March wedding weekend, we took the barely one-hour drive down to Hocking Hills from Columbus for a weekend stay inside one of the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls’ new Geodomes. The inn’s website describes these newly built forest igloos as “the best of glamping.”

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

These domes tower to 14 feet at the highest point, much bigger than what you’d expect from the little green dome you see from the outside. And I’m both impressed and amused that at more than 706 square feet, these cute “little” domes provide more space than my first two Columbus apartments.

A cozy king-size bed faces an expansive viewing window that looks out into the thickly forested section of Hocking Hills. The room boasts a small kitchenette with retro appliances, a dining area, and a seating area. Around the corner, a gorgeous bathroom with black pebble shower floors – a massage for your feet, my husband accurately declared – gave us everything we needed for our stay. Soft, warm robes included.

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Apparently, these are the first geodomes in the U.S. with indoor plumbing, HVAC, and electricity. I’m not an overly outdoorsy girl, despite my love for Hocking Hills. So for that, I am that much more grateful.

If for any reason, we had to be trapped in that sweet and cozy half-sphere for the weekend, we probably would have been delighted. We had leftover wedding cake and champagne, after all.

But the grouping of domes is just a short walk away from the inn’s Kindred Spirits restaurant. We walked to breakfast there each morning as well as dinner, which was delicious each time. And right behind that is the spa building where we both had Swedish massages. And of course, being at the inn also means we have easy access to the best hiking spots.

While life slowly creeps back toward normal, I assume out-of-state and international travel will continue to pick up. But looking back on it, I’m not entirely sure I would have chosen differently had the options for travel not been restricted. Knowing we’ll still be able to head overseas when it’s safer to do so, the geodome experience provided us an incredibly relaxing and beautiful getaway after a busy wedding planning experience.

Visit www.uniquelodgingofohio.com for your next Ohio experience!

St. Paul Hotel & Wooster Explored

From a travel perspective, the past year has been devastating to the industry as a whole, and for those that feel fulfilled by traveling (ME!), the pandemic added another layer of disappointment to stay “holed up” for so long. Needless to say, after welcoming our second child amidst the pandemic in December, we were happy for an opportunity to safely get away on a one-night birthday trip to one of Ohio’s unique lodging establishments. We decided to spend the weekend shopping and eating our way around the quaint town of Wooster, OH located in the heart of Wayne County.

St. Paul Hotel
St. Paul Hotel

The St. Paul Hotel began as the CC Hotel in or around 1900, with 36 rooms on two floors and one shared bathroom on each floor. The hotel that welcomes guests today is very different than the hotel of the 1900s, known for card games and betting. The beautiful, boutique property that is downtown Wooster’s only boutique hotel was opened in 2011 after months of labor and love by local craftsmen. Visitors will notice local artwork throughout the building and each room has hand crafted and locally sourced furniture and fixtures.  

We arrived in Wooster with the hopes of catching the end of some regular season college basketball, so we stopped by a local market and lunch spot Spoon Market to get a to-go lunch to carry-in to a local brewery, JAFB. After that, we arrived a little early for check in to get settled before heading out to enjoy the unseasonably warm spring weather. Downtown Wooster has worked hard to gain more independent retailers in its downtown shopping district. We took a step back in time and found a fun souvenir for our oldest at Operation Fandom, a fun toy, collectible & memorabilia type store. We found neat kitchen gadgets and foodie favorites at Graham & Burns.  I hope next time we return to catch one of their cooking demonstrations!  Finally, we found some awesome gifts and new threads at Blue Spruce Boutique.

Downtown Wooster

After a whirlwind of shopping, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We caught a quick workout in the gym which was perfectly outfitted, even for two gym snobs. Back in the room, we were greeted by homemade welcome cookies, heated bathroom floors and a beautiful waterfall shower. Dinner was just across the street at The City Square Steakhouse.

We rounded off the weekend by visiting a new restaurant to downtown Wooster, The Leaf. Born and raised in Wayne County and a resident of downtown Cincinnati and then Columbus for the past 15 years, I admit I have very high breakfast standards. We are a family that loves to brunch and The Leaf had high standards to meet. I was absolutely blown away by the new restaurant that took the place of a long-time neighborhood diner, The Parlor.  Most shockingly to me were menu items that I had never heard of or seen on a brunch menu. I happily ordered the Bana Crunch Yogurt Bowl and the … wait for it…Avocado Naan. What?! Two of my favorite things combined with eggs? Hands down one of the best brunch items I’ve ever had. Served up right there in Wooster, OH.  TJ enjoyed the Wet Burrito, which was also amazing.

We can’t wait to return! -Halle

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