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

How do you discover Unique Ohio?

It has been a while and the world looks even more different than it did a couple months ago. Being cooped up all spring and the better part of the summer is making many eager to get out of the house. Others though are a bit travel shy, and that is okay. Meet somewhere in the middle. Ohio’s Unique Lodging properties are only a short drive away and I know exactly where you can find them – www.uniquelodgingofohio.com

Discover Unique Ohio…

By Region

Search by any of Ohio’s 8 major regions – Amish Country, Central, Hocking Hills, Lake Erie & Geneva-on-the-Lake, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest – to find the atmosphere and unique lodging that you desire.

 

 

 

 

 

By Unique Accommodations

You will be sure to find lodging that satisfies everyone’s comfort level and needs with a variety of property types. With inns, cabins, tree houses, B&Bs, and more you will be sure not to disappoint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Shared Experiences

Hear directly from the communities across the state of Ohio with our local blog posts. Learn about the latest news, upcoming events, must-visit destinations, and vacation suggestions for that region.

 

 

 

 

 

By Special Promotions

Ohio is an ideal destination for exploring historic sites, spending time in the scenic outdoors and sipping local wine (who knew?) while you soak up the beauty of the valley. Right now there are getaways available of up to 35% off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Local Events

Discover new, exclusive, and socially distant experiences happening all around the state. You may be surprised what you find..

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how you search Unique Ohio one thing is for sure: there is something for everyone.

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

A Yurt Experience

2020 is here! Isn’t that hard to believe? This year is already off to an exciting start!

Professionally, OHLA recently moved offices for the first time in 40 years from the exciting Short North Arts District to bustling downtown Columbus, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse. Personally, for those who do not know, Sean & I are expecting our first child in March.

With this being said, this blog comes to your inbox in the spirit of overwhelming excitement and positivity for this year and Sean & I squeezing in as much as we can in the few short weeks we have left as a party of two.

Another thing off of the bucket list for us… we stayed in a yurt. A beautiful, cozy, quaint yurt. You may have the same question my sister did… “What is a yurt?”. A yurt is a round structure that includes a lattice skeleton covered by a fabric-like wall covering, and a dome skylight at the center of the roof covering. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls recently added yurts to their options for accommodations and I just had to check it out!

Our yurt, Firefly, had a large bed, a kitchenette, a sitting area and full bathroom. My favorite part about our stay was that there was not a television. After enjoying a delectable dinner at Kindred Spirits, the on-site restaurant, we went back and played an intense and competitive game of Scrabble. A Scrabble game that seemed to have no end in sight.

I awakened in the middle of the night and was mesmerized by the moon shining in through the skylight and the pitter patter of rain drops on the yurt. It felt special and in a way comforting. In the morning, we put on the soft cozy robes and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the wrap-around porch. (Yes, we were outside, in the morning, in January… you know, it was casually almost 60 degrees.)

We wrapped our stay with a visit to the spa and were then on our way back to Columbus.

En route back home, we stopped at the Hocking Hills Inn and Coffee Emporium. If you are passing by or coming to stay, be sure to stop here! They have an extensive menu of all of your favorite coffee, espresso, and tea favorites in a beautiful café setting. They also have great grab-and-go items for a quick snack or lunch. Next time I am in the Hocking region, I will definitely need to check out the suites available at the inn, they look so beautiful!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

 

Into the Wild at Kalahari

It’s hard to believe that Kalahari Sandusky has been a staple for so many years and continues to be at the forefront for just about everything from family fun, to conference services, to innovative dining, a rejuvenating spa experience, (…OR attending our annual conference in a few short days). The service, the food, the venue is always so impressive and is such a dynamic setting.

If you’re in just the right spot, at just the right time, they might just have you convinced that you were transported to the African countryside.

Something that is new(er) is B-Lux Grill & Bar. It is my favorite dining outlet and offers my preferred combo of the savory and the sweet. A great place for laid back grub offering a wide array of different burgers, sandwiches and other comfort foods like gourmet macaroni and cheese! Now, things get serious when we start talking about dessert… the milkshake options are extensive and are just…so….good. From a cupcake to a donut, you will have all your milkshake dreams met! Make sure you look at the milkshake menu BEFORE you order dinner to ensure you have plenty of room to indulge.

If you aren’t here for a meeting, or you are able to enjoy any of the other amenities – check out the water park. What a fun array of activities! Ride all of the slides, the lazy river and be submerged under the “dump buckets”. You know, those water vortex things that spits you out a funnel? This is a fantastic place for families. It’s safe and there are a zillion different things to do for all ages. There is much more than meets the eye – water slides, a zip line course, and animals! There is a mini zoo!Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!

So whether you’re there for a meeting, splashing around in the water park, relaxing in the Spa Kalahari & Salon or restaurant hopping, take some time to check out the detail of this place.

I hope YOU have decided to #jointhecaravan and we will see you at this dynamic venue November 25-26!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!
Morning Rainbows @ Kalahari – Sandusky

A Unique Experience in Dublin

Oh, have I’ve missed you! It’s me, Halle! I’m back! Just for a brief bit though to share about a super cool experience I had recently in my very own backyard.  One of my favorite parts of working for OHLA is discovering the coolest lodging facilities we have right here in Ohio.  Even better when it’s here in Columbus.  I want to introduce you to The Timbrook Guesthouse located in Dublin, just across from Antrim Park.Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

The Timbrook Guesthouse is owned by innkeepers Jill & Peter Dole.  Parents to 6 kids and several grandkids, these two fell in lovebirds (pun intended – read on) with what was formerly known as the “Old Jack Antrim Farmhouse” – a mansion built in 1875 and nestled on 83 acres.  The Doles bought the property and its remaining 4 acres from the Timmons family in 1988 and raised their family there.  Now, the Doles operate a guesthouse where they welcome visitors into their tropical paradise tucked neatly away off of Olentangy River Road in the heart of Columbus – I promise you; you didn’t even know it was there. And that, my friends, is the best part.  They have marvelously created a hidden escape for me, for you and all of their guests. Let’s take a look!Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

I was visiting Timbrook on a drizzly Saturday in September for work on a weekend – something many of our readers can appreciate.  The difference here is, I was transported to an island getaway despite the wet, the cool and the Ohio gray.  While at most inns one can expect an immaculate experience inside, the coolest part of Timbrook is what is on the outside.  The Doles have added hidden nooks and crannies outside to be discovered by guests, including Puna’s Pond (the pool), Leilani’s Lagoon (the hot tub sanctuary) and my favorite, the Tropical Aviary (see what I did there – these two love birds!).Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OH

Even on a day like that Saturday, the beauty of the meticulously manicured gardens was all anyone could need.  Give me a blanket and wipe off my seat and I could have easily sat in one of the benches or chairs throughout the property and just watched the world slow down and let my senses take over.  Sadly, I wasn’t there to relax, but I was eager to indulge in Jill’s fabulous breakfast spread.  If you remember, I love food, so when I booked this location for a board retreat, I made sure it included brunch.  The Doles were dealing with a full house (big OSU game that weekend) + our 8 guests, so it was all hands-on deck.  We were seated in a beautiful family dining room – the wooden table was hand made in Costa Rica, as were the super cool chairs (guys, they had pineapples carved into them!) and we were surrounded by windows – it was the perfect setting to dig into Jill’s AMAZING pumpkin pancakes.  I put amazing in all caps, because they were hands down, the best pumpkin pancakes I’ve ever had.

Timbrook Guesthouse - Dublin, OHAnd, the best part about breakfast at Timbrook?  There is a TEA STATION! Raise your hand if you work at a property that puts an emphasis on tea for its guests? (Right, not a lot of hands in the air) So imagine my joy when I was directed to an entire tea station that included honey made right there at Timbrook. (Shameless Plug: Curious about tea service?  Make sure you check out ‘Service to a Tea’ at the OHLA Annual Conference this year!)

Set a little goal for yourself, right here, right now.  Find one day – come on, you have 365 to choose from – and book a stay at The Timbrook Guesthouse.  The Doles will graciously open their beautiful paradise to you and transport you to somewhere truly special. Aloha!

Feeling Ritzy?

The Ritz Carlton located in the heart of downtown Cleveland within the historic Tower City building has long been a beacon of luxury and opulence. There is a lot to love about the Ritz Carlton Cleveland. For one, it is the only Ritz Carlton property in the state!

The Ritz Carlton ClevelandFrom beginning to end, service is top notch. I pulled up to the busy valet and was warmly greeted and promptly guided to the elevators to sweep me away to the lobby. Immediately off the elevators is a stunning floral arrangement composed of several tall clear vases with simplistic blooms.

The lobby is a hub for guest engagement, dining, conversation or a night cap. The newly renovated rooms and public areas are abundant with steel grays and blues paying homage to Cleveland’s storied steel-working industry. As each working day winds down, a steam whistle signals the start of “off clock” featuring light fare and strong spirits in TURN Bar & Kitchen. In the evening I did partake and ordered the Asia Town Tom Yum Goong and boy was it a sweet and spicy bowl of perfection!The Ritz Carlton Cleveland

The sleeping rooms are stunning and sparkling clean. What a perfect space to unwind, get your work done or get some shut eye. The bathrooms are beautiful, large and bright. The flooring, shower and counter tops are all white marble tiled with shiny stainless fixtures.

One of my favorite features of the room was the lighting options. For ease of access, I had many lighting settings available at my fingertips for bed left (lighting on just my side of the bed), Good Night, Master, Evening (subtle lighting) and Work. Even the bathroom had a nightlight feature, I loved this. (I am always the one stubbing my toe in the middle of the night!) I also enjoyed having a Nespresso machine in the room. It was a welcomed amenity for the afternoon and morning caffeine binge.The Ritz Carlton Cleveland

Other exceptional qualities of the The Ritz is the Club Concierge and the extensive fitness center. The Club Concierge is just as stunning as the property with impressive views, sleek furniture and exceptional options for food & beverage complete with a friendly host. The 4,500 sq. ft. Core Fitness Club offers more than a standard hotel gym. This is an all-around wellness center with live-streaming classes and group fitness!The Ritz Carlton Cleveland

The Ritz Carlton certainly checks many boxes on the list of luxury amenities. Stop by for a cocktail at TURN next time you are ending your long work day… who knows, maybe you’ll make it in time to hear the steam whistle!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Ritz Carlton Cleveland

The Ritz Carlton Cleveland