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

Refined Hospitality at Hancock Hotel

An enlightened experience.

Bringing refined hotel and dining experiences to the Findlay, Ohio landscape.

I introduce you to the Hancock Hotel located on South Main Street in Downtown Findlay. I recently visited this property for one of our many member mixers with our Northwest Lodging Council and it is impressive!Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

The design elements throughout the hotel are modern and tell the story and history of the Findlay community. The front entryway is glass with perfectly aligned bicycles adorned with the hotel logo. These bikes are available for any guests to rent at any time.

Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OHI was warmly greeted by the friendly team and directed to our event space. The halls have high ceilings with many windows allowing for their gorgeous light fixtures to shimmer. Every space in the hotel is a statement. I loved the rich royal blue accents throughout the hotel along with just a little bit of glitz through their light fixtures and usage of metals.

The pre-function and meeting area also offered tall windows with navy draperies in a pristine space. The team did a great job as our host and I have to say, the build-your-own bruschetta was maybe my most favorite appetizer ever… fresh tomatoes, soft mozzarella, sliced breads… the Italian in me was such a happy camper!

Speaking of good eats, Hancock Hotel is also home to Mancy’s Steakhouse. Sound familiar? While visiting, I learned that Mancy’s is an iconic steakhouse in Toledo and extremely well-known. The restaurant décor and set-up are very warm and cozy. Somewhere you’d want to take in a multiple course meal and perhaps stay for that night cap. The kitchen has a large open service window which I always enjoy, I love being able to see the operation!Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

The sleeping rooms are equally as beautiful as the rest of the hotel with plush bedding, stand out artwork and again a little piece of Findlay in every space.Hancock Hotel - Findlay, OH

After speaking with several of the Hancock team members, I was overjoyed to hear of their engagement and involvement within the community. They host community events throughout the year at a nominal cost to locals. From family-friendly to an evening for adults, there is a diverse selection, and each is ever so creative. A few events coming up are “A Great Pumpkin Breakfast” featuring a full breakfast buffet for the whole family and showing of It’s a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and for the adults they will be hosting a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed by a few other holiday events such as a holiday pop up market. (If you are interested in any of these events they are open to registrations on Eventbrite!)

Next time you are in Findlay, stop by and see the lovely team at the Hancock Hotel and maybe even enjoy a steak at Mancy’s!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

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!

It’s a Suite Life at Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown

Residence Inn Cleveland DowntownAs many of you know, I started my career in hotels with the Residence Inn brand and I’ll always have a soft spot for what the brand stands for, the many guests that turn through the doors and those who stay for an extended period of time. So, when I have the opportunity to visit another Residence Inn property, it is always a treat for me! There is always a sense of familiarity yet there are always unique qualities. Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown

 

I spent the night at the Residence Inn Downtown Cleveland, within the building of the historic Colonial Hotel, a few weeks ago. It has many of the charming characteristics you’d find with a newer hotel within a historic building. Such as large windows, high ceilings, & original architectural notes.

The sleeping room floors are wide with high ceilings and have a level of grandeur to them. Each suite is complete with a tall white door with crown molding frame, the door is adorned with a doorknocker and inside you have all of the comforts of home with a full kitchen and living area. (When I returned to my room, I popped myself a bag of popcorn, and turned on my favorite Netflix series.) Directly out my window is a view of the bustling Prospect Avenue and the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (even though it is forever ‘The Gund’ to me).Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown

The bar and extended lobby area is spacious, comfortable and decorated beautifully. The standout for me, is the breakfast area that sits on a different floor than the lobby. This space offered stunning bright blue stained-glass windows and ceiling panels and an extensive full breakfast of hot and cold favorites. I enjoyed my hot tea as I reviewed my morning influx of emails and caught up on the news.

Residence Inn Cleveland DowntownThe Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown certainly offers a stay above the ordinary in a great location if you are wanting to explore East 4th, see the Cavs or catch an Indians game.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Are you a Thrill Seeker?!

Seeking speed? Thrills? Heights? Look no further than the ‘Roller Coaster Capital of the World’. It’s not too late to visit Cedar Point, the one-stop-shop for family fun and amusement galore. The park boasts 18 world class roller coasters plus thrill rides and you cannot forget about my favorite part, the water park.

Cedar Point - Sandusky, OhioWhen I think of Cedar Point, I have nostalgia of childhood memories… being terrified of going on the Millennium once I was tall enough, puking after riding the Raptor (some things you’ll never forget!), or riding my favorite water log ride with my parents.

There is so much to do, explore and see within the amusement park and it is tough to cram it all into one day. Don’t fret, there are great properties on the premise, under the Cedar Fair umbrella.

Castaway Bay

Castaway Bay - Sandusky, OhioCastaway Bay is an indoor waterpark oasis (OVER 38,000 sq. ft.!!) The entire property is tropically themed. Some things that I appreciate most is that the rooms offer suites with a mini fridge and microwave! Always great to have when you have your kiddos in tow. The hotel features a Quaker Steak & Lube (I grew up just a few minutes away from the original in Sharon, PA!) restaurant along with a deli serving Starbucks coffee, breakfast buffet and snack shack.

Cedar Point Express Hotel

Cedar Point Express Hotel - SanduskyCedar Point’s Express Hotel also features the family friendly mini-fridge & microwave combo and is all about guest convenience. Easy parking within close proximity of the property and a convenience shop inside! My favorite part of this property is the courtyard and outdoor pool area. It is plush and a great way to spend an afternoon. Perfect to gather and soak up the sun!

Hotel Breakers

Hotel Breakers - Sandusky, OhioHotel Breakers is exactly what you’d imagine a waterfront resort to be. A variety of rooms and suites, balconies and breathtaking views of Lake Erie. This hotel serves as a great stay-cation, with three restaurants and two bars on site!  Spend your days by the pools, water playground, engage in fun games and activities on the beach or my personal favorite, relax under the stars by the fire pits.

Lighthouse Point

Lighthouse Point - Sandusky, OhioLooking for an alternative to hotel accommodations? Hook up your RV, rent a cottage or a variety of cabins. What a great place to relax! Enjoy great amenities, outdoor seating and a charcoal grill. If you are staying in a cabin, you have to have a grill! On the grounds, you can also find an outdoor pool, on-site laundry and fun activities.

[Shout out to a few of our other members in the Cedar Point area: Knights Inn, Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resort & Conference Center (home of our 2019 Annual Conference), and Sawmill Creek Resort!]

What is your favorite memory of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands? Besides Cedar Point, my family always loved going to Port Clinton and visiting Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island, the wineries of Geneva (and Madsen Donuts, of course!) and much more.

Wherever this summer has taken you, I hope it was enjoyable and you squeeze in a little more summer fun this month!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

An INNvitation to Ada

The drive from Columbus to Ada is such a pleasant ride. Weaving through Ohio’s proud farmland with scenic views as far as the eye can see and a few of those “I am going to lose my stomach” hills that make sure you are awake.

Ada is the home to Ohio Northern University and the inn that operates on the campus. The Inn at Ohio Northern University blends right in with the campus buildings of brick and is a charming attribute to the campus. You know you’ve found the inn when you see the huge arch at the entry point.The Inn at Ohio Northern - Ada, Ohio

Our Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) Council recently met at the Inn as they are a proud ULO property. Our meeting was held within the spacious, hi-tech boardroom. One wall of windows allowed natural light to pour in and the room was anchored with a wet bar area one end and a huge television screen on the other. It was an excellent set up! The Inn offers over 3,000 square feet of space and is suitable for just about any type of event!

The Inn at Ohio Northern - Ada, OhioThe lobby is cozy and opens to a large outdoor courtyard and a pub. It felt very warm and inviting with the stone accents and piano in the space. (I can only imagine what this place is like over the holidays!) I attribute much of the coziness to the hospitality of the team. Every single employee that we came across was warm, welcoming and so hospitable. Including the audio-visual technician, our banquet server, catering manager, the General Manager and many more!

This was not an overnight visit, unfortunately, but the accommodations are unique, spacious and offer great amenities like Turkish towels, bath salts, refrigerator and a coffee and tea station. (One of my favorite items that are around the Inn are the signature orange and black speckled coffee mugs! You’ll see these logo’d mugs in the meeting rooms, sleeping rooms and in the gift shop. I should have bought one…)The Inn at Ohio Northern - Ada, Ohio

I’d say this is a great opportunity for someone seeking a retreat location, business meeting or just a little getaway.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

The Inn at Ohio Northern - Ada, Ohio

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

Fond Memories & a Bright Future at Cherry Valley

Cherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - NewarkThis past Wednesday, OHLA had the privilege of presenting a proclamation to honor the 21 million dollar renovation of the former Cherry Valley Lodge & Waterpark now known as Cherry Valley Hotel & Ohio Event Center located in Newark. Many community members gathered to recognize this moment. I enjoyed hearing stories and memories of the lodge and waterpark. Many enjoyed family trips, meetings and the team that once operated the property. Others shared their excitement for this redevelopment as it stood as a marker for growth and economic development.

Cherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - Newark

Rendering of main lobby/common space.

The entire property is in process of being completely renovated. All 200 sleeping rooms, common areas, new dining & lounge concepts and… no more waterpark. That’s right, the waterpark will no longer be a fixture at the property.Cherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - Newark

During the event, we got to witness the first of the water slides to go down, literally (as in… a bulldozer…). The removal of the waterpark makes room for a complete event & exhibition center.

The renovation is full steam ahead with much of the common space and a first phase of sleeping rooms being guest-ready beginning at the end of July with the full property being completed in October.

A few of the sleeping rooms were ready for viewing and they are impressive. Fresh new colors, spacious & bright bathrooms with quirky artwork of affluent deer (I loved these!).Cherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - Newark

We are looking forward to seeing the finished product and who knows… host an upcoming OHLA event within the new event center!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Cherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - NewarkCherry Valley Hotel & Event Center - Newark

 

Small but Mighty – Four Points by Sheraton Cincinnati North

Four Points West ChesterA quick trip to Cincinnati led me to an overnight stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Cincinnati North which sits north of the city near West Chester. I have to admit, I was not super familiar with the Four Points brand and concept but am excited to share with you all that I learned!

Tucked away off of a main road, this property is a cozy 89 room hotel and is nestled in a quiet area. From the moment I arrived, I was so warmly greeted by all of the team members that I had the opportunity to meet. I was promptly assisted and made my way to my spacious and comfortable room. An in-room coffee station, mini fridge and bottled water made my evening and morning routines easy. The bathrooms have built in shelving where the bath towels were perfectly folded and displayed. I always appreciate extra counter space and nooks that I can put my toiletries and this room offered both.Four Points West Chester

The decor in the lobby, restaurant and throughout the hotel encompassed travel and a journey. On one wall in the lobby, an array of license plates and a car bumper were on display and other art showed airplanes and propellers. Immediately off of the lobby is Fuel Restaurant & Bar, open for breakfast and dinner. I had the opportunity to dine in Fuel for both meals and it was great! The menu has good selections from salads, sandwiches to soft pretzels and pot stickers for dinner and a variety of breakfast selections for the morning.Four Points West Chester

I spent the night on a Tuesday evening and I was bummed to find out that on Wednesday’s they have a themed night: Best Brews & BBQ. How fun! Throughout the week Fuel features local beers on tap and on Wednesday’s you can pair a local brew with delicious BBQ offerings all made in-house.

Four Points West ChesterBesides visiting a few of our amazing hoteliers, I also attended the MPI Ohio Chapter meeting which was hosted at this property. I was so pleasantly surprised with the large and beautiful event space that the property had to offer. It offered great flexibility for events small and large and our innovative lunch was delicious. Our lunch was a creative mix of different kinds of salads, build-your-own lettuce wraps and soups. I was very impressed as were several of the attendees.

It was a great stay and experience. Big thank you to all of the team members for their genuine, hospitable nature!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren