What a November! I can’t believe it’s been a month since we last adventured together. November is annual conference month at OHLA and it was all hands on deck. If you’ve ever put together a conference for nearly 500 people, including 50 exhibitors, over 30 speakers, political figures and a recording artist from Nashville (all with a full time staff of 4) you know it can be a bit hectic. If you haven’t planned an event like that, now is not the time to start. It’s the holidays after all, and it’s time to get focused, because it’s my favorite time of year!
To put anyone in the proper holiday spirit you need cookies, decorations, cookies and cookies. For the past two years, TJ and I have made it a new holiday tradition to visit Ohio’s Amish Country for the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns. It’s a win-win for me because I get to visit many of my members who are hosting thousands of visitors while enjoying the holiday spirit with my family. The tour continues to expand with new participants and fun ways to enjoy the weekend. So let’s experience a #FlashbackFriday to the 2016 tour and see what’s in store for 2017 to get you ready for what will hopefully be a new tradition in your family. I have made note below of new additions to the tour!
Always one of the hot spots on the tour, the Berlin Grande Hotel was pulsing with holiday spirit and people! The tree that greets you in the lobby is nothing to contest with. One of my favorite decorations on the tour was what we playfully called the “Winter is Coming” room (Game of Thrones – anyone?). The white fur blanket on the bed was a luxurious touch! At this point in the tour, I was ready to cozy up for a nap with that blanket. This stop is also the hub for the shuttle that takes you to two more stops – onward!
Talk about competing with your siblings. The Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek and Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek were battling it out for most over the top, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping holiday display. The Christmas tree at the entrance to the Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek was impressive to say the least. Actually, the cool thing about this place was there were many entrances. We came in from the “bottom” level and were greeted by a secondary lobby display where we were able to snap an official blog picture (Check out that shirt!). Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek is a big property and they made sure not a corner went unturned. Every inch of the property was dressed for the holidays.Thank you for a great back drop!
Not to be outdone by its sister property, the Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek had an even more impressive tree and lots of them. I have to give them kudos for my favorite room of the day. I took so many pictures of this room and immediately turned to TJ and asked, “could we do this?” to which he rolled his eyes and said, “No. We’re missing a Jacuzzi tub, a four-poster bed, a fireplace and a miniature lamb.” SHOOT. I wasn’t the only one taking pics of this room. The photos say enough. Nice work.
NEW THIS YEAR! Comfort Inn Dover
It’s a funny feeling when you think you know what something will be like and you’re wrong. That is exactly what happens every time I visit a Comfort Suites, particularly the one in Berlin. With so many great lodging options around the area, the Comfort Suites Berlin has made sure you have a unique experience while enjoying the comforts of brand recognition. I absolutely loved what the staff did for the holidays. The rooms were festively decorated in different ideas of Christmas – from blue, gold and all things glitter, to a classic farmstead Christmas with plaids and wood. The Comfort Suites Berlin always does a great job of showcasing local businesses in the area at the end of the tour too – those cupcakes were phenom!
NEW THIS YEAR! Country Inn & Suites Dover
If someone blindfolded you and dropped you at the Guggisberg Swiss Inn you would think you were in Switzerland. Holiday décor aside, innkeepers Julia and Eric Guggisberg have done an excellent job of making this inn feel authentic. One of my favorite aspects of the inn, although I didn’t get a chance to snuggle them this year, are their horses. They roam free on the property and are happy for a pet or to take you on a trot around the property. Decked out for the holidays, the Guggisberg Swiss Inn is exactly where you picture yourself with a warm mug of hot chocolate and a book. As always, at this stop, you can taste some of their Doughty Glen Wines!
I was pleasantly greeted by the new innkeeper’s mother who was handing out handmade French Madeleine’s – YUM. I was on my way out of the Welcome building when I overheard someone getting a room tour – so I jumped in line. The guestrooms were classically decorated for the holidays with festive wreaths and Christmas trees. This place is a great stop for a visit to Amish Country – centrally located, easy to access and great hospitality.
One of our last stops in 2016, I was exhausted by the time we reached the Oak Ridge Inn. But, the crew
here was ready to save the day. Not only did they have our cookies, but little containers of grapes and cheese. After all, it was almost dinner time and we were working hard! I have visited several Nivea Hospitality properties, but the Oak Ridge Inn was something different. Right around the corner from the ultra-modern Wallhouse Hotel Walnut Creek, this quaint little inn is tucked back off the main drag. The guest rooms here are massive with big Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces waiting to help you unwind. Definitely worth a longer visit (and soak!) next time I’m in town.
NEW THIS YEAR! Sugarcreek Village Inn
BACK THIS YEAR! Wallhouse Hotel Walnut Creek
Unless you’ve been completely living under a pile of Christmas cookies, you know that the Wallhouse Hotel hosted our group last year. I highly recommend staying at one of these great places and enjoying dinner somewhere nearby! I’m glad to see the Wallhouse back on the tour list for 2017!
NEW THIS YEAR! Zinck’s Inn
At the end of my post in 2016, I made it a point that we would buy 2 day tickets next time. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who thought this, as this year all tickets are 2-Day passes.
The 2017 Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns kicks off on December 9 at 1 p.m. This year marks the tour’s 10th year of celebrating the holidays and giving back to local charities. Proceeds from this year’s tour benefit the Holmes County Education Foundation and LifeCare Hospice. Spending a day or two on this tour is the perfect holiday tradition – hope you can make it one of yours and support Ohio’s Amish Country Lodging!
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck