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

Wowed by the Wallhouse

This week, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Amish Country within Holmes County. It was a bright sunny day with a perfect breeze in the air. Once I got off the main interstate, I rolled the windows down and proceeded through the seemingly never-ending winding roads of hills. It was a gorgeous morning to be making the drive.

My travels continued through farmland, fields and small towns. I was getting very close to my destination but saw so sign of a property. As I made my final turn up the hill and around a corner out of nowhere stood The Wallhouse Hotel in Walnut Creek. A stone and modest exterior stood tall with a neon sign spelling out the name of the hotel. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, The Wallhouse Hotel brand is a part of the Choice Hotels Ascend Hotel Collection.)

Once I entered the property, I was so surprised. Pleasantly, of course. This modern, luxurious gem in the heart of Amish Country boasted neon blue, green, and orange accents. The interiors were sleek and very urban feeling. Behind the front desk pods stood a bold black and silver wall with the statement “W” logo.

The lobby area has excellent lounge space with white leather chairs and couches, a fireplace, clear glass tabletops and shiny black flooring with those exciting and unexpected accent colors. The 62 sleeping rooms & suites carry over the same vibrant color scheme. Each bedroom sported a tall white headboard, white sheets, charcoal carpeting, an accent wall and lime green table and pillows. The meeting space was just as fresh & clean as the rest of the property. Black and white photos lined the striking robin’s egg blue walls.

If you are looking to get the big city feel without the big city traffic The Wallhouse is certainly a great option. You are bound to be – pleasantly – surprised at every turn!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Lafayette, A Grand Riverboat Era Hotel

Our blog takes us to Marietta where we hosted our Southeastern Lodging Council meeting this week at the historic Lafayette Hotel. This gem sits on the Ohio River near downtown Marietta and Marietta College.

The Layfayette Hotel - Marietta, OHThe Lafayette has quite the history and I’d love to share it with you! One of the more fascinating things about this building is that it has always been hotel! Where The Lafayette stands today was originally The Bellevue Hotel which was built in 1892. In 1916 a devastating fire swept through the hotel and it was destroyed. Luckily, after the fire, a local Marietta businessman vowed to rebuild the hotel and July 1, 1918 it opened as The Lafayette Hotel. This hotel has been in operation for over 100 years!

A true ‘Grand Riverboat Era” hotel, this property boasts historical elegance, sophisticated charm and museum-like qualities. If only the walls could talk! The hallways are like a time capsule. Every corner you turn there is a framed artifact, an historical photo or an era piece that catches your attention. By our meeting space, there were photos of a flood that practically rose above the front entry, what a great conversation piece!The Layfayette Hotel - Marietta, OH

Within the property there are dining and event rooms. The Gun Room is my personal favorite. It is known for its famous collection of handcrafted long rifles dating back to 1795. In addition to the rifles there is a telegraph, steamboat instruments and the most interesting, pilot wheels that were made for the Navy in World War II but never were used.The Layfayette Hotel - Marietta, OH

Though we love our new, sleek & modern concepts there is just something about historic building properties. The charm, the story, the events that have taken place, the guests who have passed through… it is fun to ponder.

If you are passing through the Southeastern region of our state, make a stop to go back in time and see the beautiful landmark that is The Lafayette Hotel.The Layfayette Hotel - Marietta, OH

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Something Special at Sebring Mansion

Hello! My name is Lorada and I am Lauren’s mom. I’m a little nervous as this is my first EVER blog entry. Coming from a nursing background, this is a little out of my element but here we are. My husband (Joe) & I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last week at the beautiful Sebring Mansion in the small town of Sebring, Ohio (30 minutes NE of Canton).

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Dick who got us settled then led us on a tour of the entire mansion including each room. Each room is completely different that the other and are all decorated to the tee. Building began in 1900 with original woodwork and accents shipped directly from Italy to Sebring. The owner, Lynne Biery, has carried these beginnings through her keen eye for detail and has not left a stone unturned. She has carefully curated every piece within the mansion to reflect the rich history of the                                                                            property.

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

We were so lucky to have the opportunity to stay within the Sebring Suite. This stunning suite boasted a comfortable king bed, dark red décor and accents, a large jetted tub and fireplace. I was speechless when we walked in. Every item in the room was an intentional thought-through detail. We were welcomed with a cheese spread with chocolates and fruit, it was delicious! The cheeses provided were from Biery Cheese Company which Lynne’s family has owned since 1929.Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

The small but mighty team was so, so kind and pleasant. I shared with Lauren that I felt that this is what it must be like for Meghan Markle at Frogmore! Dick was a hoot and was with us much of the day and introduced us to Murphy’s Pub named after the contractor of the pub addition. For dinner, we were treated to a beautiful sweetheart table set-up and enjoyed an amazing meal prepared by Chef Randy and our sweet server, Lisa, made our celebratory dinner so memorable. That evening we enjoyed their huge outdoor hot tub all to ourselves.Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

It was a short overnight stay and our departure was just as memorable as the arrival with an outstanding breakfast and a genuine farewell from Robin. We plan to come back over the holidays as I was told it is a sight to see with decorated trees in every room.

I cannot say enough about our experience at Sebring Mansion. It has certainly set the bar high for next year’s anniversary celebration!

 

Thank you for reading!

Lorada & Joe

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OH

Get Lost at The White Oak Inn

Driving along a winding two-lane road, up and down hills and curves, through wooded valleys and then you arrive at The White Oak Inn tucked away in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

Some days I just want to disconnect, get away from it all, ‘lose’ my phone and be still. If you are looking for that kind of day, look no further than The White Oak Inn. We had the opportunity to host our Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) Council Meeting here and what a great visit it was! A special thank you to Yvonne & Ian Martin, the owners for such warm hospitality!The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

Our meeting of 7 fit perfectly in the quaint room off the main living area. The living room is so cozy with homemade cookies on the coffee table in front of a stone fireplace. The Main House is over 100 years old and offers seven beautifully appointed guest rooms with private baths. On the grounds, there is also the Guest House and two Log Cabins.

The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

 

The Guest House was formerly the chicken barn (Yes, a chicken barn. No, not what you are thinking!) that is split into three spacious rooms all with a fireplace and vaulted ceilings. The doors to these rooms have beautifully crafted door frames that add such a sweet touch.

Two Log Cabins sit adjacent to the Guest House and across from the Main House. These cottages act as a romantic hideaway for two complete with a wood-burning fireplace and a two-person whirlpool bath tubs. These cabins are just the right amount of seclusion to make the escape.

The White Oak Inn - Danville, OHOur lunch was delicious and the desserts… OH! The desserts. Our lunch was quite a spread of homemade curried zucchini soup (Must. Get. Recipe.), scones, croissants and an assortment of salads. The decadent desserts featured were turtle walnut brownies and shortbread. Both were delicious but I think my ultimate favorite was the shortbread.

I cannot wrap up this post without introducing you to Dougal. Dougal, the owner’s sweet black lab essentially serves as the one-dog welcoming committee. He loves to get a good back scratch, stay by your feet and is always there to lend a hand in case you may drop a crumb.

The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

I will certainly need to return to disconnect in a cozy cabin, sink into a hot bubble bath and eat my weight in shortbread. There is just something to be said about getting lost.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

The White Oak Inn - Danville, OH

 

Meet Me in the Kimpton Living Room

What do we know about the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants brand? We know they are a part of the IHG family, are classified as Upper Upscale and are offering a distinct boutique experience for guests across the country. The first Kimpton in Ohio, The Schofield Hotel, opened its doors in Cleveland a few years ago and we have another coming to Cincinnati in early 2020!The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Kimpton’s brand focuses on being a home away from home and thrive by being personal and making connections. One of the warmest aspects is their lobby that they affectionately call their “living room”. It is SO cozy with comfy places to sit around a fireplace, bookshelves you’d see in your own home and a large community table.The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Upon check-in we were welcomed and invited to their evening wine tasting in the living room. We joined them for the tasting with our friends and enjoyed tastes of reds, whites and salty snacks. What a nice way to start our stay!

Our accommodations were so fun, and I loved the décor and set up of the room. We walked in to our king bedded room and were welcomed with a welcome amenity (Thank you to our friends at The Schofield! The amenity was personal, and I was excited to receive such a nice note along with it.)The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Above the bed hung framed & matted pictures of different images all within the same color palette. Including matchbox cars, butterflies and planes. Gold pillows and light fixtures paired well with the yellow and orange hues found in the hanging art.

The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

The luxurious bathroom was my favorite part of our room. It ran long ways across our room behind the wall where the television sat. Two large vanities with a ton of counter space closed the ends to a dreamy walk-in shower in the middle. Gray and white marbling lined the floor and the walls. The Atelier Bloem body gel, shampoo and condition sat on a wooden table in the corner of the shower. This Mandarin & Citrus body care set smelled delightful!

We were sad that we only stayed for such a short amount of time, we didn’t want to leave. This hotel has certainly left an impression and will certainly be remembered for its living room and that amazing shower.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

V-Day Getaway

I <3 YOU, INNLOVERS! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am here to help. Trying to surprise your significant other? Or just trying to get away with your buddies to completely avoid the holiday? Allow me to introduce you to a few of our excellent Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) properties that will surely make the holiday special.

GlenLauren - Hocking HillsGlenlaurel Inn (Logan, Ohio) – Do you want to take in the Scottish Highlands? Well, you are in luck and you do not have to jump on an 8-hour flight. Visit Glenlaurel located in the Hocking Hills region to be swept off your feet by charm and seclusion. This peaceful retreat sits on a 140-acre estate featuring hiking, Scottish Links Golf and a Spa. Their dining room is also exceptional with traditional Scottish flair to please the pickiest of critics.

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OHSebring Mansion Inn & Spa (Sebring, Ohio) – Built in 1900, Sebring Mansion, exhibits refined detail and craftsmanship that is hard to come by in the small town of Sebring. The architectural design and all building materials from brick to woodwork were purchased in Italy and directly shipped to Sebring. Can you imagine the timeline of construction in the 1900’s?

 

White Oak Inn - Danville, OhioWhite Oak Inn (Danville, Ohio) – From a cozy room inside main inn, a private guest or a luxury log cabin, White Oak Inn has something for you! Being nestled in Ohio’s Amish Country certainly has its perks with one being the enjoyment of handcrafted soaps, jellies and jams to farm-fresh produce and eggs. Savory and sweet dishes are prepared fresh and from scratch daily. I’d love to wake up to the smell of lemon pancakes, wouldn’t you?

Cedar Grove Lodging - Hocking HillsCedar Grove Lodging (Logan, Ohio) – Featuring six cabins and two lodges in the heart of Hocking Hills, this getaway will leave you wanting to throw your cell phone in the drawer and sink into the serenity and beauty of the region. Here you will enjoy amenities such as hot tubs, fire pits, gas grills and obviously breathtaking views of the scenic Hocking Valley! Go on… cozy up and enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Glenlaurel - Hocking Hills

Glenlaurel

Cedar Grove Lodging - Hocking Hills

Cedar Grove Lodging