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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Renaissance Era in Toledo (No pun intended.)

“Holy Toledo! Either that bird hit a landmine, or you just shot down a kamikaze pigeon!” Quick! Name that show! You guessed it, M*A*S*H. I am sure you are wondering, “Lauren, why are you pulling a quote from M*A*S*H?”. Boy, do I have a reason!Renaissance Toledo, OH

I traveled to our Northwest Lodging Council last week and had the opportunity to stay, enjoy and embrace the not-like-any-other Renaissance Toledo. In every way, this hotel pays homage to the city of Toledo. From being the “Glass City”, to Jeep manufacturing and yes, its’ famous connection to the television series M*A*S*H.Renaissance Toledo, OH

I arrived late in the evening and was ready to check-in, eat and sleep. From the moment I entered the lobby, I felt the innovation and excitement. (Toledo is often referenced as the Glass City due to its long history of glass manufacturing but is also known for its automotive industry. Toledo is the Jeep headquarters! These two facts are important to note as I tell you more about this property.) As I approached the faces of the front desks I immediately posed the question “What is this desk made of?”. The answer? Molds a glass blower would use when creating a glass vase, bowl, etc.Renaissance Toledo, OH

I then went on to walk to the elevators but before I got there I had to stop and take a picture of the military Jeep parked right in the lobby. The Jeep reminiscent of Willy’s Jeep in the M*A*S*H TV series. A Jeep in the lobby? That’s neat. I then went up to my room (I was upgraded to an amazing corner suite that looked out over the river! Thank you, Renaissance team!)Renaissance Toledo, OH

The rooms are just beautiful and are certainly just as unique as the lobby. The industrial design is comfortable and modern. The very first thing I noticed were that the hooks that hung on the wall were actual red Jeep hooks! Other notable elements is the M*A*S*H artwork in the bedroom and the bathroom mirror that pictured a lit half full glass of water and read “1/2 air and 1/2 water. Technically, the glass is always full.” (Which is my new favorite quote!)Renaissance Toledo, OH

After Oohing and aweing over the room I headed to the rooftop lounge, The Heights. Rightfully named as it offered views of the city and the river with indoor and outdoor seating and the loveliest wood-fired pizzas! I ordered the hummus served with pickled vegetables which was delightful and a four-cheese pizza which I took back to my room to enjoy and continue my 15-but-never-finished Netflix series.

The next day I learned more about the sleeping room design and it all clicked! The sleeping rooms are designed after a glass blower’s studio. Made possible with details such as the chaise in the bedroom which has a fabric like denim and a brown leather pouch hanging over with magazines that is comparable to a leather apron.Renaissance Toledo, OH

With the growth Toledo & Northwestern Ohio is experiencing it is safe to say they truly are in a Renaissance era and this property keeps the history and roots of Toledo alive.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Renaissance Toledo, OH

Renaissance Toledo, OH

10 Years of Hospitality: Hilton Polaris

I was lucky enough to intern at the Hilton Polaris during the summer of my senior year at OSU (2012). Prior to my internship, I thought I had wanted to go down the road of events. However, after spending 3 months as a full-time intern (unpaid… sigh… but what I gained and learned about the industry and myself was priceless!), I realized soon my passion for hospitality laid within the clients and quickly after graduation I started my career in hotel sales.

Hilton Polaris - Columbus, OH

Hilton Polaris just celebrated their 10th anniversary of their opening, can you believe it? I can’t! Some things have changed in its’ appearance, but the hotel still beams in the Polaris area. Many of the staff members that I knew are still active on property (which says a lot!) and the same great inspired food is still very much alive.

Hilton Polaris - Columbus, OHThe interiors have had some updates and I am loving them! The rich dark floors and walls are accented with navy, tan, gray and other neutrals. My favorite seating area is in the lobby and features plush modern navy chairs next to filled shelves with books. In the middle of the lobby stands a tall accent wall featuring a fire place. Around this there is additional seating and the most interesting coffee tables that remind me of honeycombs.Hilton Polaris - Columbus, OH

Hilton Polaris - Columbus, OHOf all the hotels in the Greater Columbus area, this property has one thing the others do not, a full-service spa, Papillon Day Spa. After getting a treatment, I would naturally head to the Bar & Patio @ 8700. The outdoor patio area is a great way to unwind with over-sized floral arrangements, two large fire pits, and strung lights. While I was visiting, the bar was advertising rose inspired cocktails. (Spa + Patio + Great Local Food + Rose = My kind of day!) Oh! I can’t forget to mention that this property is also located next door to the Polaris Mall complex; did someone say shopping?

This property has dedicated the past 10 years to delivering hospitality through their employees, events, and on-site amenities. They’ll continue to be an important piece to the puzzle of the Columbus hospitality community.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

What’s Happenin’?

Our pipeline in Ohio is quickly growing. Along with the growth, exciting new opportunity and brands are making one of their first appearances in the state. Here are three brands developing in our state…

Canopy Logo

Canopy is beginning to make its mark in Ohio with its’ newest property in the state being built by Indus Hotels on Nationwide Boulevard in the heart of downtown Columbus. This lifestyle brand began internationally and as of last year has begun to lay its domestic roots. With a passionate focus on all things local within each of its’ cities, their vision for their local culture is spread through their employees who they refer to as “enthusiasts”. Across the locations from Iceland to the U.S., each room has a ‘canopy’ bed structured by a ceiling high gray headboard with an overhang. These sleek properties will be a must visit in the months and years to come!

BrewDog LogoYes, it is really happening! Very soon we will have…. A BEER HOTEL. I know what you are thinking, “Lauren, don’t joke about things such as this.” Rest assured, no jokes here! In Canal Winchester, BrewDog opened their first brewery in the United States. The brewery alone now has 3 locations within the Greater Columbus Area with sights on Cleveland & Cincinnati next. Now, they are on to their first hotel in the U.S., The DogHouse, with rooms featuring views of the brewery, in-room beer taps, and last but not least (and the single thing my husband is most excited about) there is a beer cooler in the shower! I am looking forward to the hops based and locally produced toiletries. Opening the end of August 2018!

Graduate Hotels LogoMy inner Buckeye is jumping at the development of The Graduate hotel in Columbus on the campus of The Ohio State University. This will be The Graduate’s first property in the state. The Graduate’s décor pays homage to the university itself. Common areas may be reminiscent of items such as the main library, noteworthy architecture, academics, and athletics. For example, the common areas of The Graduate on the campus of that school up North, is mocked after their gorgeous library and their academic seal is on the headboards. As an OSU Alum, I am so excited to see this come to fruition in Columbus!

Members – Are you wondering what else is in the pipeline for Ohio? Access the myOHLA tab at www.ohiolodging.com and review our New Construction Pipeline; updated quarterly! Or contact me with questions directly at Lauren@ohla.org.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

New Perspective at Hilton Easton

I joined the hospitality community in 2012. The Hilton Columbus at Easton that I always knew was something out of a Southern inspired movie or novel. Driving up to the stately white and brick building that sat nestled within Easton Town Center and stepping inside to beautiful draperies, brass and gold, floral prints, and a spectrum of colors is what I remember. (I’ve always loved this property, can you tell?)Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

From the outside everything is seemingly the same and pristine as ever. Once you walk through the doors, a very sophisticated modern story unfolds. All of the qualities Hilton Columbus at Easton is known for have remained: exceptional service, delicious food, and uncanny attention to detail.Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

Through the front doors and into the main lobby we go! Ah, what a space! The front desk, soft seating (and a lot of it – there is also extensive outdoor patio seating available), and the bar and lounge is wonderfully welcoming and simply put… stunning! Lovely shades of gray with accents of chartreuse green and purple hues make a great combination.

I have a few blog posts under my belt now, and I am sure you have learned, I love light fixtures. Throughout the lobby and pre-function spaces shiny silver and crystal-like shapes draw your attention. They truly make the spaces and they are unique!Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

I also love food and am all-in for the new concept being offered, Herb-n-Kitchen. Serving Starbucks beverages, an array of freshly crafted salads, sandwiches, & flatbreads, and all the market snacks to go along with it (inclusive of Jeni’s Ice Cream pints!). When, I travel, especially by myself, I always appreciate an option like this! Hilton Columbus Easton - Columbus OH

Don’t worry, you can still order delicious menu options in the lounge along with your favorite cocktail (try the cucumber mint mule!).

DISCLAIMER TO OUR SPORTS FANS: Easton Sports Club, formerly inside of Hilton Easton, is no longer in business. RIP.

It is easy to see that this was a renovation of intent, an intent to make the guest experience enjoyable and easy. Next time you are at Easton Town Center be sure to visit the Hilton and see it for yourself!

P.S. I didn’t get to stay the night but check out these sleeping room photos below!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

Hilton Easton - Columbus, OH

 

 

Vibrant Yellow Springs, Ohio

My husband (Sean) and I booked it to Yellow Springs last week after a long work day. Though there was an accident, we still managed to make it to Yellow Springs in just over an hour (phew!). We had one night in Yellow Springs and we planned to jam pack it with all that this quaint town had to offer.

Yellow Springs Brewery, Yellow Springs, OH

First stop, Yellow Springs Brewery. We pulled into the gravel lot and got all the smells from the food truck parked just outside, yum! The brewery itself is vibrant and full of energy. Their colorful logo hung above the draught spouts and my husband immediately requested a logo sticker to take back to his man cave refrigerator (of course!). We settled in and got a flight to taste all the options. We enjoyed the staff, the local gentleman sitting next to me who shared his story of how he got to Yellow Springs, and of course, the brews!Yellow Springs Brewery, Yellow Springs, OH

We were quickly on to our next stop, Winds Café, for dinner. We were seated at a table beside the windows that looked out onto Xenia Avenue which invited Sean and I to take in the community. Before we ordered fresh breads, house olives, and creamy butter were brought to our table.

Winds Cafe - Yellow Springs, OHWe went on to order a Caesar salad, stuffed calamari, and the seasonal risotto. (I like to say that Sean is a Caesar Salad Connoisseur of sorts as he always must order one if there is one to be had. He was thrilled that he didn’t have to ask for anchovies, they were already included! It’s the little things…) Everything was delicious, but don’t worry, we both saved room for our next stop… Young’s Jersey Dairy.

I am all about ice cream. I love ice cream, especially if there is chocolate and peanut butter involved. We were told by several friends that we HAD TO stop at Young’s Jersey Dairy for ice cream, boy, am I happy we did! Sean went for the good ‘ol mint chocolate chip and I did the Buckeye Sundae (chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a homemade Buckeye… heavenly). By this point, we needed a good night’s sleep at the Hearthstone Inn in nearby Cedarville, a well-appointed clean and comfortable stay with a personal touch from the owners’ in every way. I thought this travel blessing was a sweet touch (see pictured).Hearthstone Inn - Cedarville, OH

The next morning, Sean headed back to Columbus and I had the opportunity to visit with one of our Unique Lodging of Ohio members, Mills Park Hotel. Talk about a hotel with personality! The property is modeled after the 19th century home of William Mills, a local settler who had helped in the development of the town’s infrastructure. Mills Park Hotel gives a modern twist to their historic roots.

Mills Park Hotel - Yellow Springs, OHThe front wrap around veranda is welcoming and completely charming! Throughout the hotel there are darling paintings of CORGIS (yes, the adorable fluffy dog), a corgi carousel, and corgi stuffed animals in the gift shop! (Fun Fact: the owner of the hotel has a corgi, hence the significance. In addition, he is fantastic with woodworking. Throughout the hotel, several of the wooden pieces were handcrafted by him!) I enjoyed an excellent breakfast in Ellie’s Restaurant & Bakery (the breakfast croissant was delicious!) and then I had to bid adieu and off to work I went.Mills Park Hotel

Every stop during my time in Yellow Springs is memorable and I’m looking forward to returning and staying for a while. I hope to explore the art scene and the several locally owned shops that line Xenia Ave.  From what I hear, you must come during a Street Festival (I’ll have to check my calendar…).

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren