Jazzy Weekend in Dayton

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

I’m an Ohio girl, born and raised.  From the Cleveland area, went to school in Cincinnati and now live in Columbus.  I tell people I get around the state quite a bit, but I definitely have had my go-to entertainment districts and up until this weekend, Dayton was not one of them.  I’ll be honest, nearly every time I’ve gone to Dayton it’s been raining and there’s construction. But a few weeks ago I had a taste of something I wanted to sink my teeth into and I had to schedule a time to go back.  Our trip centered around one key adventure – the Blue Note Bistro & Lounge.  You probably haven’t heard of it, and I’m a bit nervous to divulge my secrets, but if you’re looking for something new to try – follow me…

Miamisburg, OH is about an hour and twenty minutes from Columbus. We decided it would be best to make an overnight out of our trip to the Blue Note. Word on the street? They’ve got great music and a wine cellar – ’nuff said.  This particular Saturday afternoon was unseasonably perfect and we didn’t want a minute of it to go to waste.  We thought the best bet would be to stop somewhere on the way that we could check out – walk around, see some shops, (for TJ) drink some beer – so we set our sights on Yellow Springs, OH. I had the chance to visit Yellow Springs a few months ago and wrote about its cool new hotel the Mills Park Hotel.  That time, I didn’t get a chance to explore the town which has a huge art scene, but I wanted to. It was too cute! There are little shops everywhere and musicians on the street.  Who would have thought?

Discovering Ohio - Yellow Springs

Feeling Funky – Yellow Springs

As we’re driving, TJ proclaims that he is pretty sure there is a brewery in Yellow Springs (he would know!).  After a quick Google search I confirm this and now he is interested.  Yellow Springs is situated on a bike path (or maybe the bike path is situated around Yellow Springs, but you get the picture!) and today, bicyclists were out in full force.  Despite the crowds, we found easy parking on the street (it’s free! for all you city slickers), just across from the Mills Park Hotel. We headed to find a latte for me – very important when the sun is setting and you’re window shopping.  We found the cutest store – Oats.  They sold all kinds of neat antique pieces for the home. You

Discovering Ohio - Yellow Springs

Feeling Funky – Yellow Springs

probably could guess that we left with an old metal BEER sign for our at-home bar. After that we wound our way to the Yellow Springs Brewery and Taproom, located a few blocks from downtown.  This place was happenin’. A food truck was parked outside and nearly every seat indoor and outdoor (in February!) was full. Something a bit different about this taproom is that there wasn’t a TV in sight.  The place was filled with artwork and there was a big cart of games for people to play. A startling idea – a bar not having TV’s, but instead you walked in to the sound of conversation, laughter and glasses clinking.  We decided to have a light appetizer because our dinner reservation was late.  The food truck parked outside, Smokin’ Bee-Bee-Q, was

dishing out Mac n’ Cheese Waffles with Pulled Pork & Slaw – so we split one!  Delicious!

With full bellies, we decided we should make our way to Miamisburg with a quick pit stop at our hotel.  We were so fortunate to have been graciously hosted by the team at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dayton Mall/I-675.  The staff was super friendly and ready to make our night a memorable

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Miamisburg

one.  Our room was beautiful!  I’ve said it before, but if you haven’t been in a new package Holiday Inn recently, make sure to check one out. Our suite was spacious and beautiful.  I loved the homey accents – rounded ottomans and small lamps.  This hotel had a pool (which we didn’t have time to use) and great fitness center and complimentary breakfast. Highly recommend it!

Even better, the hotel is a straight shot to downtown Miamisburg, where the Blue Note was located. We were running a bit ahead of schedule so we swung into A Taste of

Discovering Ohio - Miamisburg

I’ve Got That Feeling, Inside My Sole @ A Taste of Wine

Wine for a glass of vino.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a packed house and a live band. The staff selected fantastic wine for us and we spent an hour listening to the sounds of Mind Reels.  We were walking distance to our final stop, so parking and navigating was easy.  We arrived at Blue Note just before the next show started and were quickly seated at our stage side table.  There are so many amazing things about this venue, I can’t capture it all in one post.  To begin, this space is a converted bank building, so it’s unique and in a great location.  The high ceilings and beautiful archways are a fantastic backdrop for a live music venue.  The whole place is lit by blue lighting and portraits of famous jazz musicians.  The menus? They light up!  The food was delicious.  I started with the Blue Note Salad and had the Chicken La Poire. TJ also started with the Blue Note Salad and had the Tournedos Dumas.  We split a great bottle of wine with our company, sat back and relaxed.  On stage that night was The Satchmo Show featuring Dean Simms – a Louis Armstrong impersonator. They were amazing and kept the crowd engaged all evening. After an outstanding show, good food and great company, we tucked in for the evening, but not before grabbing donuts at Bear Creek Donuts for breakfast the following morning.

One of my favorite things is discovering new ways to enjoy the great state of Ohio.  No matter how much  I travel, or how many people I meet, there are surprises around every corner.  If you haven’t yet visited Yellow Springs or Miamisburg, you are missing out on some amazing experiences. So what are you waiting for?

Discovering Ohio - Miamisburg

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

 

Video

Season of Love – Step it Up!

Ohio Date Ideas

All Smiles @ Cedar Point – Sandusky

I love holidays, particularly ones that give me an excuse to really wow someone – birthdays…Valentine’s Day. It’s the month of love, so I thought I’d step in to give you some ideas to really amp up your dating game or, your life experiences game. Whether you’re committed or single – these are some fun ways to get that extra mile out of love and life. Follow me as we try this, not that!

THAT – Buying chocolates

There are people in life who say, “don’t buy me flowers, they just die.” That’s depressing, but also true. Food isn’t just the way to a man’s heart – it’s the way to mine. But this time of year, stores roll out display after display of overpriced chocolates in heart shaped boxes. You could to that. Or, you could do…

THIS – (SAFE!) Raw Cookie Dough

Ohio Date Ideas

NomNomNom @ Cookie Dough Creamery

Good thing I surround myself with some pretty cool 11 year olds. I give full credit for this discovery to one of my favorite babysitees.  Next time you’re in the market for buying you’re loved one something sweet, stop by the Cookie Dough Creamery in Worthington, OH.  You can choose from containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (my favorite), Sugar Cookie Dough, Oreo Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough; Chocolate covered Oreos filled with cookie dough and all kinds of other delectable “raw” treats. In the event you’re worried about the safety of eating this raw dough (I certainly am not), this dough doesn’t contain eggs and they use heat treated flour.  GENIUS.

THAT – A Round of Golf

It’s OK, you can admit it.  You’re re-purposing some old Silent Auction item you won as a “super cool” gift.  Let me guess, it’s at a ritzy-titzy, exclusive course and perfect for 4!  If it’s so great, why haven’t you used it?  Because it isn’t so great. Wonder if you could recreate the golf experience in a private setting and when you’re ready to take a break from the links of Pinehurst, you can sit right down in your lounge seats, crack open a beer and enjoy a filet?  Next time, try…

THIS – Golf Simulator @ The Capital Club

What? Yes! You’ve totally been missing out. I had the chance to experience the Golf Simulator firsthand. Not just the golf simulator itself, but the opportunity to wow my Sig-O with an experience he didn’t even know existed.  We were escorted up to the Capital Club (by way of the DoubleTree Suites Columbus Downtown) to the Simulator room. We were able to select from over 20 courses.  We pre-ordered TJ’s favorite beer to the room (CBC Bodhi!) and you can even order food.  This is seriously one of the coolest dates I’ve been on. I’m pretty sure TJ has already lined up friends to join him next time. I’m thinking this would pretty cool for a Bachelor party too! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Capital Club member to take advantage of this place!

****Special for Followers!*** Just in time to polish those skills before golf season hits! Now through March 30, 2017, mention this blog post and receive 1 Hour of Golf & a Free Appetizer for $15! Contact Kyle to book.

Love sports but not in Columbus? Have you checked out TopGolf in West Chester, OH?  That’s next on my list! Or what about Canton’s own Pro Football Hall of Fame? Hall of Fame Village coming soon!

THAT – Wine Tasting

Don’t get me wrong, wine tasting is fun. I love wine!  There are a million great places to do a wine tasting in Ohio…but, that’s old school, what about….

Ohio Date Ideas

Bourbon Cocktails @ Buckeye Bourbon House

THIS – Bourbon Tasting

This week, I got to check out a super cool new place, the Buckeye Bourbon House. I love Bourbon. Believe it or not, this girl has been on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail (highly recommend eating breakfast before visiting Jim Beam). The new Buckeye Bourbon House located on Gay Street in Columbus has over 50 curated Bourbons and Whiskeys (they are not the same, people!).  If you stop by, you can try a tasting and they ‘guarantee’ they’ve got something you haven’t tried.

Want more Bourbon? Try the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, KY! I haven’t been in a while, but last time I checked, it’s still happenin’!

THAT – Date Night

It’s OK. Date night dinners are still cool, but there is something a tiny bit cooler…

THIS – Date Morning

What about fantastic brunch?  Fortunately, Ohio has finally figured things out.  People like to eat all times of day! Lucky for you, cities across the state are

Ohio Date Ideas

Brunch Farrotto @ The Whitney House

seriously stepping up their breakfast game.  So no matter where you are, there are places to brunch. Some new faves:

Hoof Hearted Brewing – Columbus, OH (Hate the name, love the food <3)

TownHall Ohio City – Cleveland, OH (Patio is perfect!)

Taste of Belgium – Cincinnati, OH (It’s been around a while, but those waffles. They still do Chicken & Waffles the best)

Blue Note Bistro & Lounge – Miamisburg, OH (On the menu next week, have you tried it??)

The Whitney House – Worthington, OH (I sold my sole for the Brunch Farratto)

Cherry Street Pub – Lancaster, OH (Christi’s pick!)

 

THAT – Shores of the Atlantic

Don’t get me wrong, I hit the Atlantic coast every year and I count down until that vacation. But, let’s get real, when was the last time you checked out Ohio’s shores? Have you even tried…

THIS  Shores of Lake Erie

When was the last time you visited Sandusky? I am not just talking about Cedar Point (but go there too). Downtown Sandusky has had a revitalization.  One can now have a fantastic dinner, settle in for a cocktail at a local speakeasy and book a night at a trendy hotel, all within walking distance.  Go. Now. Check it out.

There are so many more cool ways to experience life with someone you care about – share your favorites from around the state!

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

 

A Hidden Gem

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

Stately Beauty @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

I am such a lucky girl.  I finally found that perfect career that allows me to immerse myself in something I’m passionate about.  I love travel, I love culture, I love experiences.  Lodging big or small, I’m a firm believer that the lodging you choose can make or break an experience.  And, over the past few months, I’ve actually had people tell me they like when I let them in, just a little bit, to come along with me on these experiences, from the comforts of their desk, their home or wherever InnLove finds them each Friday morning. Today I’m going to let you in, just a little bit more, into something I discovered this week while traveling for work.  For many of you, it’s in your backyard and it’s truly one of Ohio’s hidden gems.

As most of you know, I’ve worked in a few hotels, but what some of you might not know is that my childhood dream has been to own an award winning inn. I’ve been collecting favorite breakfast recipes for years. So when I find one that gives me so many feels…I must share it with you. This week, while making a very windy tour of Northeastern Ohio, I visited one of my favorite people, Lynne Biery at her hospitality masterpiece – Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa.

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

I’ve never been to the Mansion, but I have heard stories.  All good, of course, but THIS. I did not expect. I hadn’t heard of Sebring, OH until I learned of Lynne’s place –

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

Rotunda @ Sebring Mansion

how could there be something this spectacular in a place I’ve never been? Even though the day was typical January in Ohio weather – you know the sort, gray, 33° and raining – the mansion was sparkling.  It is massive and stately, sitting

 

on the corner, beckoning me into its warmth.  I sprinted across the street, snapping a quick picture of the entrance, and ducked inside. As if he was waiting for me, I was greeted by Dick, a cheerful member of the Mansion’s team. He ushered me inside the most breathtaking foyer I’ve seen in quite some time. Once you catch your breath,

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

Dining Room @ Sebring Mansion

you immediately gaze upward into a rotunda with 3 floors of views to a stained glass dome.  While waiting for Lynne, I snapped a few pictures of the foyer before being escorted into the dining area.  I was told a bride would be arriving soon and this was to be the dinner room.  The room was dripping with winter decor that made you feel

 

like you were in a fairy tale. Lynne walked me through the many rooms of the first floor including the parlor and oval music room.  The piano in the music room is original to the home!

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

Oval Music Room @ Sebring Mansion

Sebring Mansion has 9 rooms with more being built.  Each room is individually decorated and is named after a famous potter. (Sebring, OH is the Pottery capital of the world!) Each room has a beautiful, hand selected bed and whirlpool.  In many of the rooms, you can be served dinner for two on the balcony or in the sitting area and each guest is greeted with a rose. No children are allowed at Sebring at this time, which allows for an indulgent adults-only retreat. Make sure to check out all of the room pictures in the 2017 Visual Adventure Gallery because there are a million!

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

Stained Glass @ Sebring Mansion

The third floor of the Mansion has another dining area where Lynne and her team had set up an immaculate dining experience for the weekend’s wedding party.  The room is surrounded by stained glass and little private alcoves. There is a built in bar to serve guests.  Lynne also tells me she hosts a number of special events such as Murder Mystery Dinners.  I think I should sign up for one of those really soon!

The lower level of the Mansion houses the spa, with a maze of rooms for massages, mani/pedis, hair, mud baths and more. All guests are able to soak in the 102° indoor or outdoor therapy pool.  Even on a dank day like the one I was visiting on, I could have easily slipped into the outdoor pool, surrounded by plants and stone walls.  Also on the lower level are his and hers locker rooms, a wine cellar and The Pub – a bar area for guests to order evening cocktails.

Sadly, I was not visiting Lynne for an overnight stay, just a quick tour and some history.  But, if anyone has ever convinced me to make a weekend out of Sebring, OH, it was Lynne, her team and this spectacular Mansion. I’ll be counting down the days until we can stay.  (Hunny, are you reading this??)

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

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

Taking on the Queen

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Art in the City @ 21C Museum Hotel

Whew! I’m back in the saddle and on the road again (how many cheesy phrases can I use?). I kicked off 2017 in the Queen City – visiting one of my standbys and checking out something new. It’s one of our unspoken traditions that we spend New Year’s Eve in Cincinnati.  This year was

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Feeling at Home @ Kingsgate Marriott

exceptional because so many friends traveled in from afar to be there. We checked in at my Alma Mater’s hotel – Kingsgate Marriott located in the

Uptown/University Area of Cincinnati. Kingsgate is perfectly situated for access to the University of Cincinnati Main Campus and Medical Campus, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Xavier University and just a short ride to downtown Cincinnati.  I have stayed at Kingsgate many times and it’s the phenomenal staff that keeps me coming back. Usually around New Year’s Eve it’s a quiet place, but not this year. With a wedding in house and a much anticipated Cincinnati Bengals game, the place was packed!

We checked into our corner suite to get ready for the big night out.  As tradition, TJ always makes a trip down to the Bearcat Lounge for a drink

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Feeling at Home @ Kingsgate Marriott

while I get spruced up for NYE. The same bartender has been on duty for 4 years running.  In an industry with a lot of turnover, it’s amazing to see staff there year after year. You know this is because the hotel treats its employees well.  Not only is the bartender a familiar face, but many of the banquets staff and front office team are the same.

Finally! It’s time for a night on the town! We had big plans. I love holidays and planning one in the Queen City is my forte.  We met up with friends for dinner at one of my new favorite restaurants, Mita’s.  Chef Jose Salazar knows how to wine & dine his guests. I could have sat there for hours, sipping bubbly, passing tapas and people watching. Mita’s is situated on the corner of 5th & Race with floor to ceiling windows.  And on New Year’s Eve? EXCELLENT people watching. We shared a Cheese plate consisting of Manchego, Valdeon and Murcia al Vino. YUM. Then we passed around an Ensalad Mixta and an Ensalad Jicama Y Mango – both delicious. We opted for a round of Tapas in lieu of entrees and shared the Coles de Bruselas Asadas (brussels sprouts!); Pulpo Gallego (galician style octopus!); Arepa Con Queso Fresco Y Chorizo (Cheese & chorizo cornmeal cakes!) and the special of the evening – Blood Sausage.  We each had a favorite – obviously we either all have exceptional taste or Jose only makes awesome dishes (or both!). We wrapped up the evening with an Olive Oil Rosemary Cake for dessert.  If you haven’t been to Mita’s, you’re missing out. BIG TIME. And they’re open for lunch!

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Art in the City @ 21C Museum Hotel

After Mita’s we met up with friends at 21C Museum Hotel.  I’ve been to

21C before, but this time I had a chance to check out some of the aspects that make it unique including the “body art” in the shower and the beautiful art display on the guestroom floors. One of the signature’s of the 21C brand are the fun little penguin mascots.

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Art in the City @ 21C Museum Hotel

We left 21C and headed to our final destination – a new cocktail lounge in The Banks called The Stretch. The Stretch is swanky with double bars and a narrow space that allows for an intimate atmosphere. It was packed for NYE, but the outdoor space was a nice retreat from the sweat of the dance floor with fire places and cozy furniture on a chilly Ohio winter night. I’d love to come check it out on a regular weekend night – I guarantee it’s just as busy!

Believe it or not, after a night on the town, I’m still hitting the gym in the morning.  I told you before, this was not my first rodeo at Kingsgate, so when I walked into the all-to-familiar gym I was ECSTATIC at what I found.  I’m a gym snob, we know this.  Rarely do I come across one of my

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Fitness Center @ Kingsgate Marriott

favorite pieces of gym equipment. I love it so much that even if I wasn’t planning to run, I do. I’m totally going to geek out on you guys for a second.  LifeFitness makes these super cool treadmills with courses you can run all around the world! It is seriously the coolest invention.  If you haven’t been on one, try it. If you run a hotel, get one!

But honestly people, what would this trip be without a final food suggestion?  I’m not much for hotel breakfasts and normally I head somewhere else, but I knew that the breakfast buffet at Kingsgate would be just what I needed on New Year’s Day. Those omelettes…OH!

If you find yourself in Cincinnati, check out one of these two great hotels and most definitely eat at Mita’s – you’d be a fool not to.

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

I’m Back! And My Belly is Full of Cookies!

 

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Beautiful Ohio Amish Country

I’M BACK! I seriously missed you guys. Traveling is hard work! A quick “thank you” to Christi and Cindy for stepping in and sharing with you some of their most recent experiences!
Guys. I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love everything about the “holiday season.” I need the cheer, I want the decorations and I gotta have the snow. Good lord, how do people in no-snow places even do it? TJ and I were in California recently (you’ll hear about that next week!) and it just isn’t the same. It’s like, Christmas on the surface – Christmas music playing, holiday décor, cinnamon pine cones everywhere… but it just isn’t. It doesn’t have the same…feeling. But you know what puts me in the holiday spirit? Holiday traditions. And I am so happy to report that we successfully completed the 9th Annual Amish Country Cookie Tour for the second year in a row. If you have no idea what I’m talking about or for some reason don’t associate cookies with Christmas – I guess I’ll just have to show you! To explain further, this is a tour of inns in Amish Country (OHIO!) that comes complete with Christmas decorations, Christmas cookies, Christmas music, this year – snow (!) and even a goat. So! Feet and hands inside the sleigh…

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Guggisberg Swiss Inn – Charm, OH

1st Stop – Guggisberg Swiss Inn

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!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

The Barn Inn – Millersburg, OH

2nd Stop – The Barn Inn
Every. Time. Innkeeper Loretta Coblentz out does herself. The Barn Inn is magnificently decorated for the holidays – although she gives her staff all the credit. Each guestroom is immaculately appointed, each with its own holiday theme. Some extra special touches are always waiting for you at The Barn Inn – quilts handmade by Loretta (check out this one that is the 12 Days of Christmas!) and during the tour, this sweet little goa—ahem—reindeer greets you at the door.

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Berlin Resort – Berlin, OH

3rd Stop – Berlin Resort
Yowza! Talk about a non-traditional Amish Country lodging experience. The new suites at the Berlin Resort are top of the line. Covered in all things shimmery and glittery for the holidays, the Berlin Resort is the type of place I want to have a Girls Weekend. The massive suites building is ideal for a Bridal Suite or the whole family! Rooms are cleverly situated to continue to be joined until you have just the right number of impressive bedrooms, fireplaces and enormous bathrooms to suit you and your guests. I couldn’t get over the views from the suites facing the lake. The crew here did a great job of accenting the contemprary nature of the design with the contemporary Christmas pizzazz!

 

4th Stop – Comfort Suites Berlin

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Comfort Suites – Berlin, OH

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!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Berlin Grande Hotel – Berlin, OH

5th Stop – Berlin Grande Hotel
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!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Carlisle Country Inn – Berlin, OH

6th Stop – Carlisle Country Inn
Wow. This is the first time I’ve been to this property and I was glad we went. Innkeepers were welcoming guests into a warm cozy living room (it was freezing that day!) and Jim was busy cookie (I’m going to leave this typo here to give you a sense of where my mind is at…) COOKING** up a special Apple Cider on the stove top – complete with whipped cream and spice! The rooms at this inn had the highest ceilings! I found one of the best wingback chairs near a fireplace at this stop. If I’d only brought my kindle!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Garden Gate Get-A-Way – Millersburg, OH

7th Stop – Garden Gate Get-A-Way
Also a new stop for me on the tour and we were impressed. Far removed from the bustle of downtown Berlin, this little spot is a great “get a-way.” The main room was packed with people clamoring for an iced Ginger Cookie (my favorite cookie of the tour!) and some of their German Tea. We snagged a tea and headed to one of the cottages. The cottages would be a great place to spend a weekend away from home – no doubt! I also loved their Teddy Bear Christmas Room – something unique for the tour!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Oak Ridge Inn – Walnut Creek, OH

8th Stop – Oak Ridge Inn at Walnut Creek
Exhausted yet? We should have done this in two days for sure. Luckily, the crew at Oak Ridge Inn 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.

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek – Walnut Creek, OH

9th Stop – Carlisle Inn Walnut Creek
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 is impressive to say the least. Actually, the cool thing about this place is there are 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!

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Inn at Walnut Creek – Walnut Creek, OH

10th Stop – Inn at Walnut Creek
New Kids on the Block – Welcome! Not totally new, just new to the tour! We are SO GLAD you joined us this year and it sounds like your staff is too! 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 was 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.

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek – Sugarcreek, OH

11th Stop – Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek
We made it! Not to be outdone by its sister property, the Carlisle Inn Sugarcreek has 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.

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

Inn at Amish Door – Wilmot, OH

12th Stop – Inn at Amish Door
Sadly, we hit our step count by tenfold, stood in the frigid December air for the shuttle and digested as many cookies as possible, only to come up short of hitting the LAST STOP before the end of the tour. Luckily, I’m from Amish Country so I’ve had the fortunate pleasure to visit the Inn at Amish Door many times before and know that it is an excellent addition to the tour this year. The team there was happy to share some pictures with me to share with all of you so please check them out in the Visual Adventure Gallery!

Lesson learned. Two Day tour tickets next year!

Of course, I can’t miss the opportunity to thank Leon Troyer and the staff of the Wallhouse Hotel Walnut Creek for hosting TJ and me for our 2nd Annual Tour. The Wallhouse is one of my favorite places to stay for an awesome breakfast, beautiful views, and excellent hospitality. Until next time…

Ohio Amish Country Lodging Council Christmas Cookie Tour

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

Guest Blog: Joe’s Visit is a Home Run – A Special Venue for a Most Special Event

Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.

New Hilton gets First Look! – Hilton Cleveland Downtown

My first opportunity to guest-blog for Halle’s InnLove adventures coincided with a trip to Cleveland for an all-to-rare event for those of us born and raised in Northeast Ohio – the Indians’ first World Series appearance since 1997.  Having the opportunity to host some life-long friends to the games and to

Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.

Lobby of the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown

showcase the city’s amazing hotel properties (some of the best in the world), I showed my friends many of our member locations, but arranged for us to stay at the spectacular new Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

This stunning property opened this summer and became an instant icon of the New Cleveland.  Adjacent to the Cleveland Convention Center, its 600 guest rooms have greatly enhanced the strong hotel package in one of America’s major cities.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by some of the most genuinely helpful and friendly valet staff we’ve ever met.  Even with

Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.

Lobby of the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown

many high-profile guests staying for the final two games of the series, they treated us with every bit as much care and attention.  The tone that

this can set for one’s experience can’t be underestimated.

The space within the hotel is nothing short of spectacular. The design, quality of materials, and attention to detail are world-class.  Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.The truly comfortable, varied and ample public spaces for meeting, lounging, working, or just taking it all in are among the best all of us had ever experienced.

This level of quality and enjoyment continues into the hotel’s guest floors and rooms.  From the custom map-themed carpeting, to the use of bold graphics in the rooms highlighting the local flavor of this great city, one truly has a sense of locale. Ours featured a mural of one of the 43-foot tall “Guardians of Transportation” on the historic Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

The crown jewel of the hotel may be its 32nd floor open-air bar, with some of the most breathtaking views in town.  It is the perfect spot to kick off your Cleveland experience, or to wind down while enjoying the sparkling city below.

Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.

View from the Top! @ Hilton Cleveland Downtown Rooftop Bar

 

One of the beautiful things about Cleveland’s resurgence is the walkability of the city.  Just steps away from the hotel, Public Square offers wonderful green space and an unexpected contrast to the hustle and bustle of the urban center.

Great new Hilton for modern, upscale lodging in downtown Cleveland.

The New Public Square – Downtown Cleveland, OH

A World Series View of Cleveland's Progressive Field

A World Series View of Cleveland’s Progressive Field

Our visit was all about the chance to root for the home team. A few short minutes of pleasant walking from the hotel, we arrived at Progressive Field.  No need to worry about parking, car fare or other transportation.  I highly recommend the Hilton and all of Cleveland’s downtown hotel properties to those interested in experiencing not only Cleveland’s sporting events, but also theater, arts, the casino and more.

In the end, we weren’t able to bring home a win on the baseball field.  But the real magic of events like this is the chance to spend time with friends that we may not see as much as we would like, but who we know are always there for us, and will always be part of who we are.  Providing a special experience for those who visit and giving them memories to last a lifetime makes Cleveland and its hospitality community true winners.

Joe Savarise, Executive Director of OHLA, and friends at the 2016 World Series

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

 

Guest Post: TJ Visits The Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade

Great lodging in Downtown Cleveland

Unique Architecture @ the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade

You might have seen my name appear on a few of Halle’s posts before – I’m TJ, Halle’s husband.

Hiking in Pigeon Forge

Laurel Falls Train @ Pigeon Forge, TN

(Here’s a pic of us from her Pigeon Forge post a few weeks ago!) Halle definitely gave me the travel bug. We’ve had a chance to travel quite a few places since we started dating, but this year, I got to do some solo traveling for work – so I’m here to share a bit about my experience visiting Cleveland.

As my first shot at this guest blogging thing for Halle, let me start by saying I’m anything but a hospitality expert, but I do know a unique hotel when I see one. The Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade is a unique building with some real personality, flipped into a modern day hotel in a great location. Seconds away from many downtown Cleveland destinations, this Hyatt property is packed with history and cool views. The shared space in the middle of the building makes you feel as though you are inside of an old, Victorian style shopping mall from the past. That said, it is also extremely well maintained and clean. Although there is room for additional business to move into some of the old shop spaces, there is plenty of space used by some small businesses, in addition to the Hyatt’s gym.

The rooms in this property each have their own personality as well, as few have the same exact layout in

Great lodging in Downtown Cleveland

Great lodging in Downtown Cleveland @ the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade

this hotel. Again, not being in the hospitality industry, I would imagine this is not a common occurrence, and certainly adds to the uniqueness of this venue. The staff were top notch and always wielding a large smile. In addition to the wonderful venue, the area surrounding the Hyatt is packed with things to do, all within a short walking distance.

Since I was staying for a work function, the same week the Cleveland Indians were playing the Toronto Blue Jays for their (now) trip to the World Series, the Happy Hour scene was raging. Also, since most of you reading this don’t know me, know this; I love beer. My favorite spot for a good beer in Cleveland to date, I found on this trip– Butcher & The Brewer. Right on East 4th Street, this spot has a great atmosphere for any sports lover, and a great tap list as well. Another thing you should know about me (something Halle and I do not share) is a love for technology.  If you love beer and you love technology – you’re probably on Untappd – an app to track your beer consumption, focusing on unique labels and venues.  I always consider a trip a success if I can discover

Great spot for craft beer and upscale pub dining in Downtown Cleveland

Quick Bites and Great Brews @ The Butcher and the Brewer – Cleveland

something I haven’t tried before and here, I was able to do that. They also had some great appetizers – I did a mix and match of the charcuterie and cheese pairings. The homemade beef jerky was pretty darn good.

I was visiting Cleveland for a board meeting, so then I was off to meet the group for dinner. If you haven’t been to the East 4th Street entertainment district, it is packed with options. We chose The Greenhouse Tavern right across the alley. It’s a good quiet choice if you’re looking for a low key evening. If busy and bustling is more your style, The Corner Alley is also a good option. In addition to great food, they also have many games and a full bowling alley right in house.

As I write this guest blog about Cleveland and my experience there last week, I’m sitting in the San Diego Convention Center for the American Staffing Association’s 2016 Staffing World getting my learn on. I guess you could say we both find ways to integrate travel into what we do. That said, stay tuned for another upcoming guest entry from yours truly.

Lake Erie Love in Downtown Cleveland

Pura Vida!

Pit Stops – Small Town Ohio Does Big Things

I’ve mentioned this before, I’m from “small town” Ohio.  But in 2016, “small town” doesn’t always mean small ideas or small industry.  My hometown, for example, is a town of ~9,000, surrounded by farm land, an hour south of Cleveland and 30 minutes west of Canton.  Yet, we have a Fortune 500 company and we have our own power plant.  And now, in just a few short months we will have our very own branded hotel.  If you would have told me that 10 years ago, I would have laughed at you, but now, I totally believe it.

So today, I’m going to show you a bit about what these “small towns” are doing to create big names for themselves. Although we’re talkin’ general trends in the lodging industry around the state, we’re going to be making a pit stop in St. Clairsville, OH and Yellow Springs, OH. Keep your hands and arms inside this ride, because there are lots of things you’ll want to reach out and touch for yourself!

Residence Inn by Marriott – St. Clairsville, OH

Extended Stay Lodging in Eastern Ohio

Upgraded Patio Package @ Residence Inn St. Clairsville

That’s right! That is not a picture from my back patio, this is a group seating area at the new Residence Inn St. Clairsville.  Ok, I hear you, “where is St. Clairsville?” you ask!  It is on the Ohio side of Wheeling, WV.  In my 6 years of dating my now husband, I’ve passed through it more times than I can count.  TJ is from Moundsville, WV, just across the river. It’s been amazing to watch St. Clairsville build itself up over the years and the new Residence Inn is a great example of that.  When I had a chance to visit I was first wowed by the vibrant exterior paint job that really stood

Extended Stay Lodging in Eastern Ohio

Show me the Light! @ Residence Inn St. Clairsville

out against the relatively industrial backdrop.  When I walked into the lobby, I said to the team, I do not feel like I’m *almost* in West Virginia.  This place was rocking a contemporary design that I think would shock many locals. The front desk was super sleek and the light fixtures looked like they

came straight out of a design catalog of the future!

Adam and his team were ready to give me the grand tour.  The rooms were beautiful, I’d imagine, but when I was there – they were SOLD OUT! That is amazing for this area of the state.  No city-wides (urban conventions that take up a majority of major hotels) or major concerts. This place was just plain old sold out. So I didn’t get to see any rooms, but from the public space, I could only imagine they’d be perfect.

The real show stopper of the property was the upgraded pool and patio package.  I asked Adam if they ever got locals that just wanted a “weekend away” because the beautiful pool with endless windows and landscaping made me feel as though I was on some kind of vacation that I was not

Extended Stay Lodging in Eastern Ohio

Extended Stay in Style @ Residence Inn St. Clairsville

expecting.  The way they’ve built the pool area makes you feel like your outdoors, which is very West Virginian of them. (West Virginians love the outdoors, I’ve come to learn!) Good news though, the pool is inside. So if you are joining the thousands of other people that flock to visit this region for the Festival of Lights at Oglebay, consider this an alternative place to stay.

Far from winter,the day I visited it was hot. And sunny. The patio looked so inviting.  They have grills so you can cook out and enjoy the space.  This is one of the trends I love about extended stay properties. The majority of their guests are there for long periods of time, so think about how nice it would be to get out of your room and join some other long-term stayers out on the patio for a beer and some brats.  I’m always tempted to stay at an extended stay property even for one night for this very reason. They want to make you feel like you’re at home.

What would an InnLove post be without a food mention? If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend Later Alligator in downtown Wheeling.  The menu is vast and the food is delicious.  Sometimes there can be a wait, so if you find yourself in one, put your name in and take a stroll through Centre Market. There are great pop up stands within the market itself and antique shops, coffee shops and clothing stores along the street!  We recently discovered another great place, Avenue Eats.  For the first time ever I sunk my teeth into a Pear & Bleu Cheese burger. What?! Yes. It was SO GOOD.  I wish this restaurant was a bit bigger because it too can be hard to get into, but they do have a cute outdoor patio!

With great food and a fabulous new place to stay – why not check it out?!

Mills Park Hotel – Yellow Spring, OH

20160920_185156

Quirky, isn’t it?  Before we get too far into this, let me tell you about where I am.  I, along with a number of fellow Dayton area hoteliers, descended upon the new Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs, OH. Yellow Spring is about 30 minutes from Dayton.  And it’s perfect. I cannot believe I’ve lived my entire life without visiting here. And now, they have this super cool new hotel that is getting a lot of attention.  The Mills Park Hotel opened in April. It looks historic, but it isn’t. It is newly built, but modeled after an historic home of one of Yellow Springs original settlers. This property is located in the heart of downtown and along the bike trail.  The room has an open, almost Southern feel with light paint colors and hardwood floors.  The rooms are spacious and well appointed, crisp and clean.  We were there for a meeting, so I didn’t get to have the full Mills Park experience, but I want to.  When I pulled up around 2PM on a Tuesday afternoon and there were people playing croquet on the lawn! On a Tuesday! At 2! I seriously thought I’d walked onto a movie set. Did someone plan this?

Discover Yellow Springs Ohio and Check Out the New Hotel near Antioch College

History Gets a Face Lift @ Mills Park Hotel – Yellow Springs

No, the staff was bustling, setting up for our meeting. It was beautiful. If you’re looking for a unique venue – highly recommended!  I was told that Yellow Springs has two great art/street festivals throughout the year. You bet I’ll be back next year for that.  What have I been missing?

Mills Park is nailing another new trend.  You’re close to the city, but you certainly don’t feel that way. They have all of the conveniences you need – a great restaurant, fitness center, board room and business center, set in a unique setting.

Whether you’re looking for a quick trip away or a place to host a meeting, a brand or an independent property, a major hotel or a 28 room inn; consider checking out some of these smaller town hot spots!

What small town places have you visited recently?

Discover Yellow Springs Ohio and Check Out the New Hotel near Antioch College

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

A Spectacular Start to Fall – Luxury in the Smoky Mountains

I’ve had some people comment recently that it looks like I travel a lot for work, you’ve got that right! But, I also travel A LOT in my personal life. It’s a good thing I love travel, wouldn’t you say?  The month of September was grueling for the hubby and me – between the two of us, we slept in 6 different hotels in 4 different states (South Carolina, Ohio – but not at home!, Nevada and Tennessee) in 5 days. That can get exhausting. Luckily, the end of our month of travel chaos ended in the most perfect way.  Our last stop was a wedding in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  Backtracking a bit, the bride’s brother was married in Telluride, CO 2 years prior. We FELL IN LOVE with Telluride in the fall. My heart aches thinking about it and when I will get the chance to return.  Good news, this wedding was just as beautiful.

Looking for a luxury cabin experience, great for groups and families? Check out Brother's Cove in Pigeon Forge

Weddings @ Brothers Cove – Pigeon Forge, TN

We drove. I’m not always a huge fan, but flying wasn’t going to be much more efficient.  We arrived late in the evening and battled a dark winding rode up the mountain side.  We were far later than we had hoped, missing the community dinner for guests not attending the rehearsal dinner. Luckily, my mom and dad were there and scavenged some food.  See, the original plan was for us to meet for dinner in Sevierville.  That plan was quickly tossed aside when my parents arrived. My mom called exclaiming, “we are not going back down that hill at night!” We laughed, because, it was night and we had to take the road she was referring to! As we entered the Brother’s Cove property, we were amazed at the size of these

Looking for a luxury cabin experience, great for groups and families? Check out Brother's Cove in Pigeon Forge

cliff hanging cabins.  They are MASSIVE and all supported on stilts.  From the outside, I could tell these were not your typical “ruffing it” experience.  We definitely didn’t need to question if there were going to be linens provided at this cabin experience. We popped out of the car and walked into the most immaculate “living room” I’ve ever seen

Looking for a luxury cabin experience, great for groups and families? Check out Brother's Cove in Pigeon Forge

– cabin or not. This cabin sleeps six, but apparently you can squeeze ten.  It is three stories! My mom says they gave us the more secluded room on the third floor, I assume what she meant was, we gave you the third floor room because you two have the best knees in the group.  That’s fair, we were sharing the room with my parents and a mother/daughter duo from my hometown.  The mother is probably 70 or 80, so I didn’t complain.  We climbed that spiral staircase and found the most beautiful “tree house” room.  We didn’t have a whirlpool like the others, but wow, did we had a view! It was hard to see at night, but when you woke up, you could see for miles.  The rooms were built with three walls of floor to ceiling glass. It was so beautiful. Each room also came with its own private porch.  We were there with family, so I wanted to join my parents for a hot tea in the morning, but if I were there with a bunch of friends – it would be a nice way to peacefully start the morning in privacy.

Looking for a luxury cabin experience, great for groups and families? Check out Brother's Cove in Pigeon Forge

Wake up to this view @ Brother’s Cove – Pigeon Forge, TN

We only had a day to spend at Pigeon Forge so we wanted to make the most of it. The cabin had a full kitchen, much nicer than my own, so had we planned accordingly, we could have easily cooked breakfast for an army.  We set out to find a local place that cooked up some good Southern breakfast fair and we found it at Grandmother’s Kitchen. The sign outside advertised “Cathead Biscuits” which piqued my interest.  What the hell is a Cathead Biscuit? I was willing to find out. Turns out, “cathead” refers to the size of the biscuits.  They were colossal and delicious. If I wasn’t always concerned about not looking like I eat as much as I do, I would have eaten more than one of those!

My dad was acting as our guide.  We set off to find the Laurel Falls Trail.  Apparently one I’ve walked before as a kid, but I didn’t remember it.  You probably could have guessed, but cell phone reception is sub par in this area. Had I needed to find this place on my own, we’d probably still be looking. Luckily, I think my dad has a detailed world map inside of his head – he can always find everything. The trail was great – fairly easy for the hiking newbie, but had some elevations for sure.  The falls were lovely, although there were a lot of people there.  Sadly, I think a bus of tourists had been dropped off prior to our arrival, because they were traveling in pac…herds. My mom doesn’t make too many appearances here, so here

Hiking in Pigeon Forge

Laurel Falls Train @ Pigeon Forge, TN

you go! We made it back just in time to make a pitstop for some lunch food and to hit the pool.  If you’ve ever spent time driving down the main drag in Pigeon Forge,you might have thought for just a second! that you were in the over commercialized area of Myrtle Beach, if it weren’t for the mountains. YIKES!  It was too much for me.  Luckily, we came across a great Tennessee BBQ join that had a big smoker out front and someone was actually using it!  Boss Hogg’s BBQ was amazing.  TJ and the ‘rents got ribs and I chose the brisket.  Everything was perfect. We headed over to the pool to catch the last of the Tennessee rays before preparing for the wedding.  Honestly, I have no idea why more people weren’t at the pool. OK, it was a little chilly. I don’t believe it’s heated and by September, the nights are just too cool, but again, that view!  I could have sat there all day, but we had a wedding to get to!

In researching Brother’s Cove, I knew that weddings were the money maker for them and now I can see why. The backdrop for the ceremony was jaw dropping and the

Looking for a luxury cabin experience, great for groups and families? Check out Brother's Cove in Pigeon Forge

Weddings @ Brothers Cove – Pigeon Forge, TN

reception was top notch.  They turned out delicious food, but even if the food was awful, you wouldn’t haven’t noticed if you just stared out the windows.

Kudos to the staff and the property at Brother’s Cove.  Our visit was far more than we expected and I’m pretty sure the bride and groom were quite pleased.

We cannot wait for another opportunity to escape to Pigeon Forge and we know exactly where we will stay.  With a hottub, grill, and full kitchen all wrapped up in a luxury cabin atop a mountain with a spectacular view, how could you not come back?

Thank you for kicking our fall off with a bang.  The Smokies are truly Great!

Hiking in Pigeon Forge

Laurel Falls Train @ Pigeon Forge, TN

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

A Hilton Like No Other

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

Rookwood Pottery Fountain @ the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Full disclosure – this week’s hotel is another one of my favorites.  I’ve eaten there, I’ve slept there, I’ve drank there, I’ve been a meeting attendee there, and I’ve worked there.  In every instance, they never cease to amaze me.  This week, I’m taking you inside the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (HNP). Grandly situated on the corner of 5th & Race in downtown Cincinnati, the HNP has sat for 85 years.  It is one of Cincinnati’s (and Ohio’s!) oldest hotels.  I think the team at the HNP would appreciate that I’m actually going to kick this post off talking about the food.

This hotel is massive.  When it opened its doors in 1931 it had 7 restaurants and 800 rooms.  But these weren’t just any old restaurants – the Restaurant Continentale (now the Continental Ballroom) had an ice skating rink and the Pavillion Caprice (now the Pavillion Ballroom) was a nightclub that featured Doris Day for her professional debut.  Today, the restaurants at the hotel still aren’t just any old restaurant. Orchids at Palm Court is one of my favorite places for a formal dinner.  Chef Todd Kelly and Pastry Chef, Megan Ketover, have been wowing guests for years.  Megan might sound familiar, she can be seen on the rooftop harvesting honey from the hotel’s beehives or on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts! Not only is the food absolutely amazing and creative art, but the service is impeccable. If you’ve ever wanted a crash course in fine dining etiquette, you’ll learn it here. Now, if you’ve had a chance to actually take your face out of your plate (I’m kidding, that would not be acceptable restaurant behavior) you might have noticed the beautiful murals on the

Cincinnati's 5 Diamond Restaurant - the Definition of Fine Dining

Orchids at Palm Court @ the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

ceiling. The hotel, and more specifically Orchids, has an interesting history.

Would you believe some, pardon me, idiot covered that up in the 60s?  That’s OK, there were lots of questionable design decisions in the 60s. When the hotel underwent a 2 year, multi-million dollar renovation in the 80s, the paint was scraped from the woodwork, the murals restored and the original marble uncovered.  What you see now is very similar to the original hotel design, classic art deco elegance (You can read more about the hotel’s history here. When you work there, you know these things!).

Speaking of elegance, the entire hotel is a walking museum and it’s gorgeous. You can quite literally get lost wondering the hallways.  Actually, back when I worked there, you could ask the desk (or anyone with a uniform on) for a walking history guide (highly recommended!).  So let’s start with the entrance.  If you enter the hotel from the doors on 5th or Race you’re greeted by a sweeping, marble staircase that ascends to the lobby. There are elevators, of course, but take the stairs – they are part of the experience.  You’ll notice Orchids and the Grille at Palm Court off to your right.  If you have a chance to eat here, do it.  It is so worth it.  Just passed the Grille, it’s hard not to notice the beautiful wall fountain. If memory serves me right, this fountain was a contribution by another historic Cincinnati business, Rookwood Pottery! Just behind that is a long room that runs East to West along 5th St, this is the Continental Ballroom. If you close your eyes, you can imagine the ice skating rink!

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

Everything is Grand @ the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Take the stairs to the right of the Continental Ballroom. When you come out of this hallway, you might notice all of the wood on the walls.  I think this section of the hotel is the best representation of the Brazilian Rosewood.  These trees are endangered, so you better believe the staff takes really good care of the walls, they aren’t easy to replace.

Keep climbing the stairs and you’ll find yourself on the 3rd floor, home of the famed Hall of Mirrors.  I dreamed I would have my wedding here one day, that didn’t happen, but you can!  This room can house hundreds of guests.  I was fortunate to witness a miracle once while working at the HNP.  That was to watch their staff flip

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

THE Hall of Mirrors @ the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

from a wedding ceremony to a formal reception in less than 2 hours. There were tables rolling and linens flying, but this team at the HNP has this down to a science.  There is a ton of history and many famous people that have set foot in this room, and plenty of ghost stories. If you ask the right people, you might learn about The Lady in Green, a famed ghost of the hotel who is still searching for her husband who was killed during the construction of the hotel. In the time I worked there, I never saw her, but some swear by it!

 

If you have a chance to continue discovering the hotel, you might find this staircase between the 3rd and 4th floors.  It’s super cool.  In the daylight, you might think the paint job is a little obscure. If you’re ever in the hotel when the

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

Everything is Grand @ the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

electricity goes out, you can follow the glow from the windows in this painting – it glows in the dark!

You know, whenever I’m at the Hilton, I always walk around, hoping to discover something new.  My trip this time was a whirlwind, in and and out in about 12 hours.  While I was there, I was able to enjoy a perfectly set meeting, a good breakfast and excellent service.  One thing that continues to amaze me is the retention at this property. The hospitality industry is notorious for turnover, but the HNP has many of the same managers from 8 years ago when I was there and a lot of the same staff. Kudos to them, because their dedication to staff shines through in how they treat their guests.

So, you’ve walked around the hotel, but you certainly haven’t burned off that exceptional meal at Orchids.  If you’re like me, and you need a little more out of your day, hit the streets. Cincinnati is by far one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever visited and walk you should. I woke up that morning and ran, what I call, “the bridges.”  It’s a great 3 mile loop from the hotel which takes you into Kentucky and back.  If you take a moment to look over your shoulder, you’ll see the Queen City in all of its glory.

Enjoy!

The Queen City

The Queen City from the Purple People Bridge

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