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OHLA Staff Picks for Spring Break

Hello InnLovers –

It’s that time of year again, we are just coming out of the deep freeze that is winter for the Ohio region, college classes halt for a week, and everyone wants to cross state lines…You guessed it – we are talking about SPRING BREAK!

We are doing something a little different for this blog post. You are going to hear a little from each of us at the OHLA office about our favorite places to travel for the infamous week-long vacation. We have got a little bit of everything for you. Some like the beach, some like the sights, some go for the food, but we can all agree it is just nice to get away from the everyday. (Don’t get us wrong, we love Ohio, but…)

Here it is, without further ado – the places you need to see on spring break, according to the OHLA staff:

Lauren’s Pick – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

“Cabo San Lucas is one of those places that the photos just don’t do it justice. Once you break through the neighborhoods, you are exposed to the desert terrain of sand and cacti and as the car twists through the hills you get to a point where you see the crystal blue water peek through a valley… and just like that, you sink into the beauty of Cabo. I’ve been to various parts of Mexico (Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, etc.) and each of these cities are covered with lush green plants, bright flowers and trees. Cabo is unique in comparison and is simply stunning.

We stayed at the stunning Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. The level of service is unmatched. During our visit we went on a catamaran to the famous Stone Arch at Land’s End (highly recommend!), snorkeled and explored the fabulous & restaurants that are offered.”

Michele’s Pick – Washington, DC (Metro Area)

“During spring break season DC does not offer the swimming weather that the southern half of our country does, but it does offer history, sites that will take your breath away, and food that will keep you coming back.

One of my favorite sights in the area has to be Iwo Jima Memorial. There is just something about the feeling of reverence and awe that the memorial inspires, especially when you see it lit up at night. If you are the area during the summer months I would also recommend the U.S Marine’s Sunset Parade which usually happens in the shadows of the memorial Tuesday evenings June-August. The parade is comprised of musical performances of the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Platoon. It really is something to see.

If historical sites are not your thing, consider seeing the Washington Nationals play south of the city adjacent to the Navy Yard. This venue is huge with many places to eat. If the game does not interest you the food definitely will. My personal go to for food at Nats Park is the one and only Shake Shack (who needs a hot dog when you can get a burger and milkshake, am I right?). A few other enjoyable sites if you have the time to see them are the National Zoo, National Mall, and the Smithsonian.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the city, DC gives you many opportunities to “stop and smell the flowers,” especially if the cherry blossoms are in bloom!”

Cindy’s Pick – Boulder, CO

“Recently, I visited Boulder, Colorado to visit Erin, my daughter and Brad, her husband! I love visiting Boulder, it’s small enough to walk lots of places in town. I’ve been there for most seasons, winter was a favorite, as I like the snow. We drove up to the mountains and went dog sled riding. Hiking is a must all round Boulder, the scenery is so different from Ohio.

There’s great dining in Boulder on and near the Pearl Street Mall. A couple favorites are Mountain Sun, small craft brewer; Illegal Pete’s Pearl St. Mall, a great Mexican place, and a very unique Nepalese restaurant. Not to mention, Lucille’s is a must for a delicious breakfast. If you are in the area, you have to go once to the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company –  tour the peppermint room! There are many fun casual places to eat in Boulder, but the best is roof top dining with a view of the Flatirons.

A treat this past summer was getting out of town and seeing a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Lady Antebellum. Such a beautiful and unique venue. A few other memorable stops we made were visiting Pike’s Peak, a bucket list item, and the Sand Dunes National Park. We chose a hot day – 101 degrees.”

Halle’s Pick – Charleston, SC

“My pick for Spring Break (or frankly, any time of year) is Charleston, SC. Charleston is one of my all time favorite places in the world and it’s right here — a (long) day drive or short, inexpensive flight away.

I lived in Charleston for a summer, so perhaps there is a special place for it in my heart, but I truly believe in the magic of southern hospitality and if you haven’t been, it needs to go on your bucket list.

If you haven’t stayed in Charleston before I highly recommend you ditch the beach and opt for an historic inn or Hotel in downtown Charleston. The brick streets and Southern porches are too charming to pass up. Downtown Charleston is only a ten minute drive from beautiful beaches like the Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island, so the good news is you can stay downtown and soak up the historic charm and you can spend a day or two at the beach – The Best of Both Worlds!

If I could recommend a perfect evening in downtown Charleston I would suggest grabbing a AAA guidebook and doing a walking tour of Charleston’s historic homes and buildings. Stop by at a number of open-air places for a glass of wine or cocktail to break up the walking. Finish off the evening at one of the best Lowcountry fine dining restaurants one could find – like Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B) or High Cotton. If you’re interested in trying something a little different, stop by Kaminsky’s – the dessert bar of Charleston. Patrons can select from a number of decadent desserts or dessert cocktails. Don’t let the line outside scare you off, it’s worth the wait! No trip to Charleston, or review from me, would be complete without brunch. Make sure to try some of those famous southern biscuits and a mimosa or two before you head out of town. There are SO many places to choose from, you cannot go wrong, but Husk is definitely at the top of my list.

Planning to eat and charm your way through Charleston, sometime soon? I want to hear about it!”

Joe’s Pick – American Southwest

“The desert Southwest has always been among my favorite places to get away. There is great beauty across our country, but there is something about the vibrant desert landscapes that is uniquely American. For Spring Break fun, the Las Vegas region provides some of the best opportunities for fun, exploration and natural beauty. Many people say the casino and nightlife of Vegas aren’t for them. But to me, the best parts of Las Vegas are outside the city.

Even during a short stay, you can plan wisely and take advantage of amazing opportunities a short drive away. Valley of Fire State Park is stunning in its scope and amazing color. Anyone who thinks desert landscapes are boring is in for a very nice surprise. Drivable and walkable, Valley of Fire makes any trip to Vegas something much more than expected. Also nearby are Lake Mead National Recreation Area, historic Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area, and crisp cooler air on Mt. Charleston. If you plan right, and have a little luck, you might also catch some exciting acrobatics over the desert from cutting-edge aircraft flying out of Nellis Air Force Base outside of the city. When you’ve had enough adventure, get your R&R poolside. Consider some of the great off-strip properties which are affordable and even more convenient for exploring outside of town, such as Green Valley Ranch and its sister property Red Rock Resort.

Although Las Vegas has some of America’s greatest hotel & resort properties, don’t be fooled into thinking it is all about windowless rooms designed to take your money.  Get outside and see some of the greatest landscape America has to offer.”

Well there you have it, the OHLA picks for spring break. Now the question is, which of these are YOU going to pick?

 

Thank you for traveling with us!

-OHLA Staff

Lauren Stazen, Director of Membership
Michele Marcinick, Communications and Events Coordinator
Cindy Sams, Director of Operations
Halle Markwas, Manager of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships
Joe Savarise, Executive Director

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

 

A Pop of Color at Aloft

My first visit to an Aloft branded property did not disappoint. The bright and vibrant colors made up for this dreary winter weather (at least for that day). The Aloft Westerville welcomed me into the lobby with pops of hot pink, bright orange and neon green.Aloft Westerville

This isn’t your standard run of the mill lobby, this is a space where you want to throw a party or catch up with friends (or the least fun of the options, get some work done). The circular front desk is a focal point boasting these colors along with a palm tree pattern and a starburst light fixture. During my tour, I found out that the Aloft brand actually changes out its color schemes and patterns throughout the year. I will have to visit often to see all of the decor options!

Scrolling news highlights and newspapers hung for your taking along the wall calls to your business side while the pool table and jumbo tic-tac-toe makes you say “Helloooo Weekend!”.Aloft Westerville

Stepping down a few steps to another level of the lobby offers a ton of comfortable and unique seating options including long benches, a large fireplace with extra-large pillows and funky chairs. All the seating is accented by throw pillows of the same color palette and patterns.Aloft Westerville

The outdoor courtyard had me reminiscing of the warm days of summer and I can only imagine how lively of a space this is. Live music is offered Thursday-Saturday evenings along with a full-service outdoor bar. Adjacent to the courtyard is the indoor pool framed with a vaulted wood ceiling and dangling surfboards. The Aloft “A” logo is tiled on the bottom for just a little extra edge.Aloft Westerville

The sleeping rooms are sleek and mild in comparison to the funky lobby. Clean cut and neutral is the story line here. My favorite detail is a lit bench that runs along the wall in the sleeping room. I love a room with extra space to put my baggage!

If you are looking for a little extra fun in your stay for business or play, choose Aloft!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Aloft Westerville

Aloft Westerville

Are you a Foodie?

Are you a Foodie? I like to think I am. I love food and trying new things but the reality of it is that I am equally as interested in seeing a restaurant, feeling the ambiance, experiencing the presentation of the food. There is a reason we are in the hospitality world, we love the details. I hope you ate a hefty lunch because by the time we complete our review of some of the best restaurants across many properties in our state, you’ll be thinking… “What’s for dinner?”.

Hilton Netherland Plaza – Orchids at Palm Court (Cincinnati)

Orchids at Palm Court - Hilton Netherland Plaza

Did you know that Orchids at Palm Court is Ohio’s ONLY AAA Five Diamond restaurant and one of only 63 across the United States? Their menu is frequently updated to reflect finest of in-season ingredients. The formality of the restaurant comes to life from the stunning Art Deco design that has welcomed guests through its doors since 1931.

Kindred Spirits – Inn at Cedar Falls (Logan)

Kindred Spirits - Logan OhioSet on 75 acres, it is hard not to sit back, relax and take in all the natural beauty surrounding Kindred Spirits in the popular Hocking Hills region in Southeast Ohio. Breakfast, lunch or dinner will leave you wanting… just…one…more…bite. Featuring all the freshest and local ingredients with many of their entrees being a special for the day. You won’t want to miss out on what the chef is cooking up! (Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef, recently released A Taste of Hocking Hills; check it out!)

The Guild House – Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph (Columbus)

The Guild House - ColumbusIn Columbus, there is a restauranteur known as Cameron Mitchell who is known for creating concepts with unmistakable identities. The Guild House is no different. The design of the restaurant is extremely welcoming in a fabulously rustic kind of way. Each meal starts with their olive focaccia and menu features rotating selections with many fan favorites such as their Lamb Burger and Ricotta Gnocchi (my fave).

Palette Lounge & Trentina Restaurant – Glidden House (Cleveland)

Glidden House - ClevelandA historic and intimate property with a food and cocktail menu that will please the harshest critics. Palette Lounge is a comfortable relaxing space to take time to unwind while Trentina takes you on a trip to Northern Italy through its fine dining experience. I love Italian food, especially if it is coming from Northeastern Ohio! Trentina is ran by the James Beard Award Winning Chef, Jonathon Sawyer and takes pride in offering menu items like traditional Beef Osso Bucco and Bucatini Della Nonna. (I have not been here, but darn it, I’m going to need to plan accordingly!).

The Heights – Renaissance Toledo Downtown (Toledo)

Renaissance Toledo, OHDo you enjoy a wood-fired pizza? You do? How quickly can you get to Toledo? The Heights located on the rooftop of the Renaissance has a panoramic view of downtown Toledo and the Maumee River. Excellent spot to take in a view, sip a custom cocktail, and order a few pizzas and small plates. (I also love their hummus and veggie spread, if you are into that kind of thing.)

Oh my gosh, I could go on and on. We have so many members statewide with excellent culinary teams. Don’t worry we will highlight a few more later this year! For now, make your reservations and plans for this weekend with these places in mind!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

That’s a Wrap! 2018 Edition

2018 has been a big year for me, OHLA and our industry as a whole! I’ve had a blast telling you about my trips, site tours, overnight stays and hearing from our guest bloggers. I hope you have had as much fun as I have since I joined you in March. It has been an exciting year of personal travel (mainly wedding-related, thanks for hanging with me), exploring new brands, seeing complete renovations and meeting so many of you and your many beautiful properties.

Let’s look back through our year together…

January

Arizona

It is always fun to kick off a new year with a vacation! We started 2018 in exciting fashion with Halle and her husband TJ. Halle shared the details of their babymoon getaway to Phoenix & Marana, Arizona. Here we explored the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, which had recently joined the Hyatt family, introducing us to our very first Unbound Collection property. Then off to the The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain we went! Nestled tightly within Tortolina Mountains, sat the sprawling luxury 5 star resort. Both resorts were dripping in luxury accommodations, breathtaking views and unmatched hospitality.

February

The Victorian Tudor Inn - Bellevue, OH

The Victorian Tudor Inn (Bellevue)

First, we took a road trip to Northern Ohio and toured Victorian Tudor Inn, an eclectic inn featuring antiques & collectibles with a story for each and every one. It would have been easy to have stayed all day listening to Richard, the innkeeper, and the fascinating stories behind his many collectibles & the home itself. Next, we explored ideas for the lovebirds looking for a Valentine’s Day Getaway in Ohio. From the small towns, donuts, big city ideas, museums and pampering… it’s all here!

We ended the month featuring a Columbus hotel, Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph, located in the Short North Arts District. The Joseph is owned by the Pizzuti family, also known in Columbus for their art collection. Even if you aren’t staying at The Joseph, you can easily enjoy the space by coming in and having a drink at SOUL, or wandering up the stairs to a wide variety of art, from paintings to photographs.

 

 

March

Hotel LeVeque, Columbus, OH

Hotel LeVeque (Columbus)

We covered a lot in March… Mackenzie shared her AMAZING trip to Bangkok and the modern beauty of the Park Hyatt Bangkok. The designer of the interior space wanted to embody “livable luxury”, and it’s obvious. Her favorite feature? The pool & rooftop entertainment area (and the Thai food!). After being swept off to Bangkok we brought it back home and took a peek at the art-focused design of 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati and its lively restaurant & bar, Metropole. Off to Columbus to look at Marriott’s first-of-its-kind Marriott & Residence Inn Dual Property near The Ohio State University’s campus and the first property in Columbus, Hotel Leveque (this was also my blog debut!). Hotel Leveque has so many intricate and unique features; such a fun visit!

 

April

Marriott Columbus University Area

Marriott Columbus University Area

Mackenzie also shared her trip to Sri Lanka which was her stop after Bangkok. Since 2009, tourism in Sri Lanka has increased by 300%, and it was easy to see why. She ventured along the streets and wandered through most of the properties she passed, including the Fort Bazaar, a boutique property on Church Street. You enter through a breezy front porch with artsy tables and then enter a secluded lobby where a bar and private room are off to either side. All of these properties felt like you were walking into someone’s home, where you can wind down a hallway and discover a hidden bar or art room. After hearing about Mackenzie’s sightseeing, we learned about the historic Residence Inn Columbus Downtown (within the 1927 Buckeye Bank & Loan Company Building) and Buckeye Bourbon House, then saw the new modern ways of the Courtyard brand by visiting the Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown Akron.

 

May

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

South Eden Plantation (Thomasville, GA)

I love a good sneak peek! I had so much fun seeing the new Renaissance Westerville and sharing with you a preview of this stunning, now open, property. Then, we took it down a notch to find our inner Zen (which I found at Victorian Village Guest House). This cozy guest house and pristine garden truly is an urban oasis located in the heart of Victorian Village (super close to downtown Columbus, Short North Arts District and OSU’s campus). Oh gosh…. then came an all-time travel favorite, my trip to South Eden Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia. I can still see the winding pebble road, lined by overgrown willow trees and hanging Spanish moss, just like every picture you can imagine of Georgian charm. I closed out the month by a visit to the ultra-modern, art-centric new property in Cincinnati, The Summit, A Dolce Hotel and a part of Wyndham Hotels.

 

June

Mills Park Hotel - Yellow Springs, OH

Mills Park Hotel (Yellow Springs)

The beginning of summer calls for ice cream! My husband and I traveled to Yellow Springs where we got to experience the cozy comfort of the Hearthstone Inn & Suites in nearby Cedarville, the beautiful, detail driven Mills Park Hotel and an ice cream cone from Young’s Jersey Dairy, which came highly recommended. Well, I didn’t exactly get a cone… I got the gigantic, big-as-my-head Buckeye Sundae (no regrets, here!).

Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

Hilton Easton (Columbus)

If you are looking for a weekend trip, Yellow Springs is such neat town! In the spirit of summer, Halle shared her evening with us from the rooftop lounge, VASO, at AC Hotel Dublin located in the new Bridge Park Development. Then, we rounded out the month with seeing the new fresh looks of the Hilton at Easton and the Marriott Dayton (they look awesome!).

 

July

Hyatt Regency at The Arcade - Cleveland, OH

Hyatt Regency at The Arcade (Cleveland)

Wedding season? Perhaps… considering two posts this month revolved around my wedding ventures. I loved writing about the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade. The architecture and history of this building is just amazing. After the Hyatt, we went south to The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia, the most picturesque fairytale location I am sure I will ever visit (it just oozed with Southern Hospitality). Then we got centered and dove into the world of Westin, their wellness initiatives and the three Westin properties we have in our state in Cleveland, Columbus, & Cincinnati. The end of the month we got caught up on our pipeline… the ever-growing & ever-changing pipeline.

 

August

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat (Hocking Hills)

I enjoyed spending time in the Polaris area as we celebrated Hilton Polaris’ 10th anniversary and toured the comforts of home that the Staybridge Suites by IHG offers. We then got to join Halle & TJ once again on their trip to Cherry Ridge Retreat in Hocking Hills. Halle characterizes her stay at Cherry Ridge as “almost heaven”, if you read this post, I’m sure you know why by now! August wrapped up with the old & the new.

Renaissance Toledo, OH

Renaissance Toledo Downtown

Our guest blogger & Halle’s sister, Jackie, told us about her stay at The Whitley, a part of The Luxury Collection (Marriott), located in the upscale neighborhood of Buckhead, just north of Atlanta. The Whitley was formerly a Ritz Carlton property, in her exploration through its halls she felt like they did an excellent job mixing that elegant “formal” charm (from its Ritz days) with contemporary, more casual touches that leisure and business travelers alike have come to expect. We then turned the page to the brand-new Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel. If you did not read this blog, I recommend you do so, this Renaissance certainly sets itself apart with its locale-driven décor (there is a military-style Jeep parked in the lobby!).

 

September

BrewDog DogHouse Hotel - Canal Winchester, OH

DogHouse Hotel (Canal Winchester)

BEER HOTEL. That’s all. Ohio welcomed its first beer hotel in Canal Winchester, Brew Dog’s Doghouse Hotel located on site of the Brew Dog brewery featuring beer taps, stocked shower fridge and much more. On theme of new things coming to Ohio, we looked at the projected and recently developed dual properties around the state and why they make sense from an operational standpoint. Then, I had another wedding which took me to my hometown of Warren, Ohio. I loved having the opportunity to write about The Avalon Inn Resort & Spa (literally grew up with this beautiful golf & country club in my backyard!).

 

October

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

The Cincinnatian, a Curio Collection by Hilton (Cincinnati)

October welcomed the Fall season and a trip to Cincinnati where I had the opportunity to tour the first Curio Collection property in our state! The Cincinnatian Hotel, a Curio Collection by Hilton. This historic masterpiece is just gorgeous and was such a treat to tour. My favorite part was seeing all the amazing artwork and hearing about the history of the building. After seeing the first Curio Collection, I quickly turned our sights on the future as we discussed other recent openings & new brands coming to our state like Canopy, Aloft and Avid.

 

November

AC Hotel - Beachwood

AC Hotel by Marriott (Beachwood)

During my trip to Cincinnati in October, I also got to go see the Renaissance located in downtown. The sophistication, design and décor of this property was on point and effortlessly mixed with its historic past. I just loved the interior design of this property! I then had a trip to Beachwood, Ohio where I got to see the new AC Hotel Cleveland Beachwood. It was fun to learn about AC’s brand initiatives, standards and stylish design.

 

December

Our Annual Conference went off without a hitch this November, thanks to Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center. This was an easy post to pull together after I spent three days there. I loved reading about Cindy’s trip to Cleveland over the holidays and share the details my amazing trip to Maui with all of you.Maui, Hawaii

Here we are. The end of 2018… can you believe it? I can’t. This year FLEW by! Without further ado, I wish you a prosperous & joyous 2019. I look forward to meeting you and touring your property this year.

 

Cheers to 2019!

Lauren

 

P.S. I am headed to Los Angeles this weekend to cheer on the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. I can’t wait to report back to all of you about my trip & stay! (It is a brand we’ve never written about before…)

Have it All!

Hi there… I’m back! We went on a brief hiatus to execute our 2018 Annual Conference and to, of course, celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Our Annual Conference was a huge success in large part to our gracious host, Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center. For those who are not familiar, Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center (NHCC) is an independent property in Lewis Center, Ohio, near the shopping mecca known as Polaris Fashion Place.

Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center is an all-inclusive campus (15 acres!) that can cover any need you may require. The campus is made up of a hotel, conference center buildings, The Pub, dining room and of course all the amenities you come to enjoy from a hotel like a gym, a pool, room service, etc.Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center - Columbus, OH

The grounds of NHCC, no matter the time of year, are always pristine. The driveway to the main parking area is lined with black light posts that always have a seasonal fixture. In the summer they boast bountiful hanging flower baskets, during our visit this winter, lit wreaths with red ribbon bows (‘tis the season!). There is also a little walking bridge (it is so adorable!) and is currently decorated with lit garland and small red bows.

Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center - Columbus, OHThe hotel is inviting and cozy! We were warmly welcomed by a two-story wall of windows, a burning fireplace and comfortable seating. (My colleague, Carla, mentioned how she wished it was socially acceptable to come back to the comfy chair in front of the fireplace and read a book!) The high ceilings made the space feel grand though the hotel itself is very intimate. I could not wait to get to my room, I was beat! I walked in to a living room that was sectioned off from my bedroom. Vibrant navy and blues with unique characteristics such as white wooden shutters over the windows pulled the space together. I sat on the soft plush couch and caught up on a few Hallmark Christmas movies (I am a total sap!). The bedroom was lovely and I am always pleasantly surprised when I have an easily accessible place to plug in my phone charger!Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center - Columbus, OH

I woke up the next morning to make a cup of coffee. I must have been in a daze the night before because I did not notice the perfectly equipped credenza that had a Keurig, mini-fridge and microwave. I quickly made a cup of coffee and met a group for breakfast in the dining room. The dining room has vaulted ceilings and window-lined walls. Such an open space with excellent buffet offerings. Later this night, we hosted one of our receptions off of the main dining room, it was a huge success mainly because the space allowed for interactive discussions.Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center - Columbus, OH

From a conference services standpoint, the space is hard to beat! Excellent facilities for a large dinner such as our annual Ohio Stars of the Industry Gala Dinner drew hundreds of guests. The breakout spaces are flexible, and the center flows easily. One of my favorite attributes are the built-in credenzas and refrigerators for food & beverage breaks that don’t affect your traffic flow of guests.

Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center - Columbus, OHThe Pub which sits adjacent to the hotel and conference buildings is an excellent place to pass the time between sessions. Many of our folks gathered here prior to our cocktail  hour leading up to our gala. It was packed with colleagues who were taking a moment to catch up in a comfortable laid back environment.

Overall, Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center has it all for you to have your best stay, your best event or your best stay-cation.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

A to the C at Pinecrest

My first trip to see an AC Hotel led me to Beachwood, Ohio, just thirty minutes outside of downtown Cleveland. This hotel is unique in that it sits within a shopping, dining and entertainment destination; a brand new development called Pinecrest.AC Hotel - Beachwood

The hotel is so fresh and so new. I parked behind the hotel and walked the sidewalk to the the two-story bright entry. I entered through the glass doors and there was a bellman stand, an elevator, and a contemporary wrapping stairway to the second floor. A long sleek chandelier hung from the ceiling to the first floor.AC Hotel - Beachwood

I went up the steps *carefully* as I could not help to look around out the windows at Pinecrest. I approached the second floor lobby and was surprised to see how open it was, I could see from the top of the staircase clear across the hotel.

I was quickly greeted at the back-lit modern front desk. I had some time to explore and I did just that. The open concept of the lobby area is so inviting. I walked around and loved seeing the vases, artwork and unexpected finds. Sleek lines is apparent through the furniture and tables. I LOVED the ceiling, it had wood accents and large white pendant lights. Subtle colors mix well with the neutral palette. The u-shape bar faces the stairway with a suspended square lighting feature. The lounge contributes to the overall feeling with tapa-style menu items, custom cocktails, an excellent list of Spanish wines and craft beers.

The entire wall to the right of me is floor to ceiling windows which allows for excellent natural light and an opportunity for every guest to connect with the bustling environment outside. There is a terrace accessible from the lobby with seating. Guests can enjoy beverages and snacks from anywhere in the lobby & terrace areas.

I appreciated the set-up of the property with a great natural flow and its manageable size. As I continued down a lit hallway I came across a boardroom with one side featuring windows and the other an all glass wall which led out to another public work space and business center.

I next noticed sliding barn-like doors that stood tall and revealed a full breakfast area. Unique to AC, their breakfast focuses on European flair and has items like croissants, prosciutto and egg tarts. (Croissants and prosciutto are basically my two favorite things, so, you can imagine my excitement!)

I then got to see a sleeping room. The sleeping rooms are just as stylish! My number one favorite design characteristic is that everything is lit. The walls are lit, the bench in the sleeping room is lit, the seating area outside of elevators is lit. The lighting really gives a warm feeling to the contemporary design.AC Hotel - Beachwood

The holidays are right around the corner. I can only imagine the Pinecrest destination will be decorated in all its splendor; what a great time of year to go visit the AC Beachwood AND get your holiday shopping done in style.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

AC Hotel - Beachwood

 

 

Sophistication in the Queen City

Sophisticated. Timeless. Modern. Historic. All words that I would use to describe the Renaissance located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. You know the feeling when you enter a swanky place and you immediately feel the vibe and you get a little excited? That’s how I felt walking into the Renaissance.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

It was a blustery day during my visit to the Queen City, so I was happy to have grabbed a piping hot bowl of tomato bisque and the best caprese salad at the Renaissance’s restaurant D. Burnham’s (the name pays tribute to the building’s architect, Daniel Burnham).

I was led down a short hallway with lit floor boards into a cozy and amazingly chic spot with a fabulous dining atmosphere on one side of the bar and a lounge-style space on the other. There is an array of seating options from free-standing sofas to high top tables. Various fabrics and pillows in different colors contribute visual interest. I enjoyed having a moment to savor my fresh lunch and plug-in to catch up.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

Known as the Bartlett Building and the former Union Trust Building, the Renaissance has a refreshing take on mixing the old with the new. Previously a bank, the hotel boasts gorgeous gold elevator bays, marble walls, and distinctive pieces of its’ past. The arched ceiling of the ballroom with exposed gold metal balconies brings home this spaces’ glory. The modernization of the building is evident through the seating areas, light fixtures and artwork.Renaissance Cincinnati, Ohio

Pictured below is by far one of the coolest seating areas in a lobby I have ever seen (…my favorite color is also black, which is likely why I am obsessing over these chairs and generally all the décor in this place!). Key attributes are the original gold vent detailing, the extra large black lamps and of course, the chairs. Also found along the hallways are contemporary black and white portraits of kings and queens paying homage to city’s nickname, the Queen City.

Renaissance Cincinnati, OhioThe sleeping rooms are just as chic with a mix of lighter gray and white tones with splashes of black, metallic silver, and fun patterns. The bathroom is noteworthy. One wall covered in a funky wallpaper and a frosted design on the mirror really makes the design exciting.

After exploring this contemporary hotel, I got the “behind the scenes tour” of areas of the original bank that remains within the building. It is just incredible. I am so happy to see another hotel being designed and built within a historic building. I’ve shared two photos from the bank below. I’m mesmerized by the past and present of this building. If only the walls could talk…

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Renaissance Cincinnati, OH

Renaissance Cincinnati, OH

Here Comes the Future!

It is hard to believe we are well into October, my favorite time of year, and approaching the end of another amazing year of growth in our industry statewide. We’ve added new first-time brands in the state, are adding rooms to existing properties and local flare & innovation is all the rage.Canopy by Hilton - Nationwide Blvd.

Looking at the blogs of the past, there are certainly familiar themes that connect them all in some way. Lifestyle brands, creative marketing, leaders challenging the status quo and the importance of your service culture.

Now, more than ever, OHLA focus’ on empowering our upcoming leaders through education and workforce development opportunities. Many of the commonalities will be addressed at our upcoming Annual Conference this November to help prepare our industry for the future.

What is behind the mass emergence of the Lifestyle Brands?All Brands

Multiple major lifestyle brand developments are happening essentially simultaneously in Columbus, within just a few miles of each other. It is a major BOOM for the area!

AC Hotel by Marriott (Park St.)

Aloft by Marriott (Olentangy River Rd.)

Aloft by Marriott (Easton Town Center, Alston St.)

Canopy by Hilton (Arena District – Nationwide Blvd.)

Moxy by Marriott (Short North Arts District – High St.)

In the Northwest region of our state development of a Tru by Hilton and a proposed AVID by IHG is in the pipeline. In Northeast, another Tru and near Cincinnati an Aloft. Best Western is also at the forefront with brands like Glo & Vib.

What questions do you have about these brands? Brand longevity? Differences between them? Hear from our Lifestyle Brand Panelists: Jenny Aboudou,Senior Brand Manager, Canopy by Hilton; Michael VanAkkeren, Senior Director – Marriott Global Operations Design & Development, Distinctive Brands; Michael Morton, Vice President of Owner Relations, Best Western; Kip Vreeland, Chief Officer of Full Service Franchising, Marriott International.Moxy Rendering - Columbus, OH

Brands like these are trying to give the ultimate local, fresh, new vibe that our younger and up and coming travelers yearn for. Our Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) properties are truly already hitting the nail on the head. From a one bedroom guest house, to cabins in the Hocking Hills area, to a 200-room independent hotel. Each of these properties present a unique experience for their guest. Some of our properties have renowned restaurants, excellent spas, all encompassed within a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

WelshHills - Granville, OHWe will be presenting our ULO Property of the year award at our annual Gala to pay tribute to a very special ULO. Last year, The Welsh Hills in was our winner. This award-winning Bed & Breakfast is nestled in the historic Granville’s Welsh Hills Equestrian Countryside. It is complete with perfectly appointed guest rooms, a complete signature breakfast each morning and picturesque courtyard with a heated pool. (If you have stayed at, work in or have worked with a ULO property; we want to hear about it! Submit a ULO Property of the Year nomination!)

Industry progression is marked with innovation and technology. The Westin & Marriott brands are embracing this through Amazon Alexa Echo, to offer a voice activated hotel butler of sorts. Need more towels? Ask Alexa! We are driven on warm, fuzzy hospitality. Are you as curious as I am on how integrations such as this may work and affect our clientele? We’ll be hearing from Greg Pappas from Evolve Controls, who will walk us through what the hotel integration looks like. Evolve Controls works with Volara to integrate solutions such as those listed above: voice activated thermostats with Honeywell and concierge services with Amazon Alexa.

There is A LOT happening in our state and industry and we are here to help you manage it. I hope to see you at our annual conference this November to learn, network and toast to our future!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Curiosities at The Cincinnatian Hotel

Since 1882, this building has been a landmark hotel and is included on the registry of Historic Hotels of America. This property has withstood the test of time and is most recently known as The Cincinnatian Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, which stands as the first Curio Collection property in our state.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

The gem that is The Cincinnatian is polished and shiny all over again. Throughout the hotel, reminders of Cincinnati’s history and the remarkable architecture of the property is preserved. Walking in there is an atrium-esque lobby area. However, it was not always an atrium, I learned that there was an interior fire some time ago and to maintain the property, the interior damaged rooms were removed. (Crazy, right?) Now the atrium, has made way for a vast skylight, which allows natural light to overflow the space.

Let’s back up for a second and talk about the lobby. The décor is impeccable. With unique pieces of furniture, bright colors, and Cincinnati related artwork. Several pieces struck a chord with me: a horizontal colorful image of the Cincinnati skyline that was folded to create dimension, a fun & bright rendering of President William Howard Taft and my favorite a wall of 90 framed beverage napkins. (Yes, I said beverage napkins! We will come back to this one.)The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

I could have spent most of my day admiring the fun artwork but I also had to pop my head into their dining options. First, their grab & go or made to order outlet, Hannaford Market. A great place to grab breakfast or lunch with white tile lined walls and the menu featured on a floor to ceiling chalkboard. Gliding barn-like doors opened to extra dining space or a potential private area. Within this space was my favorite piece(s) of art. Time to circle back to the wall of 90 framed beverage napkins.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

Each napkin featured a hand sketched Cincinnati-related piece of art, such as a three-way from Skyline Chili, a queen’s crown representing the Queen City or Fiona the famed premature hippo born at Cincinnati’s Zoo. It was so unique and interesting that I had to take a few minutes and look at each individual sketch for its meaning.

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OHAt the busy intersection of Vine Street & Sixth Street, sits the very new Brick & Mortar, an upscale gastropub with a locally-influenced menu. The concept revolves around a large 4 sided bar surrounded by a mix of seating options. Again, the decor is perfect! Comfortable couches and ottomans under an array of various light fixtures, offer a great place to relax or catch up with friends.

The front desk is just as colorful as the path I took to get there (my path was the long way). Behind the desk is a floor to ceiling custom mosaic tile that is a replica of the ceiling from the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal featuring vibrant shades of orange and yellow.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

I made my way  to see the updated accommodations that featured a great mix of balance between a peaceful subdued palette with splashes of color through more art. As I made my way back down to the lobby, instead of the elevator, I opted for the stunning, original oak staircase which is such a statement.The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

It is safe to say, The Cincinnatian Hotel is back in its glory and has set the bar high for other Curio Collection hotels that will follow. Curious about other Curio properties? Log-in to MyOHLA for the New Construction Pipeline!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH

The Cincinnatian Curio Collection - Cincinnati, OH