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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

 

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 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

California Dreamin’

Cal-i-fornia Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day….

Happy New Year, InnLovers! I hope everyone had an exceptional holiday. Well, I am back (again!) and excited to share with you my trip to California to cheer on the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. This blog is a special one, because we have never covered this brand of hotel. Drum roll, please… I introduce to you the Loews Hollywood Hotel at the corner of Hollywood & Highland.Loews Hollywood Hotel

There are about 30 Loews branded properties across the country and we do not have any currently in Ohio. Established in the 60’s, Loews still runs as an independently owned family hotel company and pride themselves on delivering hospitality that comes from the heart. Your experience is driven by you.

As we drove up to the hotel we passed a waterfall wall with lit letters that read “Loews Hollywood Hotel” embedded in the water, we turned just past the wall and wrapped up to the porte-cochere and unloaded. Windows wrapped along the sidewalk to the lobby. High ceilings with an open lounge area that had large ottoman style seating, tables with couches, and a large hollow square bar welcomed us. Large cluster-like chandeliers hung over the bar and sparkled in the sunlight.Loews Hollywood Hotel

As we checked-in, I noticed a cool pod design of lit gems that decorated the wall behind the front desk. Since, there were A LOT of Buckeye groups staying at this property, they also had various elements to welcome the fans such as clips from every game this season playing on repeat throughout our stay. It was projected on a white wall just above the front desk. We made our way to bright white and stainless-steel elevator bank and up to the 11th floor we went.Loews Hollywood Hotel

Off the elevators, I immediately noticed the directional signage as it was all individual shiny silver letters and numbers mounted on to the wall. They sat on an equally shiny silver line which made them look underlined. The hallways were minimal but the carpeting was bright with pops of hot pink, orange in circular pattern.

We walked in to our room and immediately walked over to the floor to ceiling windows. It was the Golden Hour when we caught our first glimpse of our view that included the Hollywood sign to the left and downtown L.A. to the right. The room was modern, spacious for work and play. I loved the in-room snack and beverage bar. The packaging of the snacks are great (I am such a sucker for packaging…sigh).Loews Hollywood Hotel

Hollywood, CA

Off to explore! We jam-packed our Saturday-Wednesday trip with all the Hollywood & Rose Bowl goodness we could possibly experience. The location of the hotel was an area commonly known as Hollywood & Highland. Here, we were in the middle of a tourist paradise. Right next door was a multi-floor shopping and dining mecca designed like something you would see in Las Vegas.

We visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the celebrity handprints & footprints outside of the TCL Chinese Theatre featuring popular favorites such as Robert DeNiro, Sophia Loren, Robin Williams and Jennifer Aniston.

By night we visited the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. This strip started making an infamous reputation in the 20’s and is more recently known for being the mecca of the rock movement that had celebrities like Led Zeppelin to David Bowie grace its streets.Whiskey a GO GO - Hollywood, CA

My husband’s favorite band of all time is Guns N Roses and it just so happened that while we were visiting a GNR cover band with the original drummer, Adler’s Appetite, was playing at the World Famous Whiskey a Go Go! Such a cool, intimate setting for a concert. The history of rock ‘n’ roll truly lives in these walls.

The notable adventure the next day was our hike up to Griffith Observatory where views of Los Angeles are raw and in every direction. From this point we also got a better view of the Hollywood sign. What a BEAUTIFUL view and the weather was just perfect.Pasadena, CA

Time for the Granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. Well, you can’t go to the Rose Bowl without attending the Tournament of Roses Parade first, obviously. So, we did just that. We left our hotel for Pasadena at 6:00am to get in our seats for the parade. If you love flowers, this is the parade for you. I’ve always watched the Rose Parade & Bowl growing up, but to see those floats live is an entirely different experience. The intricate details of the floats are unmatched. All the materials used are from natural plant materials…FLOWERS, so many beautiful blooms, braided leaves, cranberry seeds, tapioca pearls and list goes on. (I really, really loved the parade and recommend it to anyone who may head out west to the Rose Bowl in the future!)Pasadena, CA

After the parade, we made our way to the stadium in the most picturesque setting. Just beautiful. The mountains peeked over the stadium and really made a perfect backdrop for the game. A large public fan fest was taking place outside the stadium where there were tons of local vendors. One of the beverages they were serving was “Rose Bowl Rose” which I of course loved, AND it came in a souvenir stemless champagne flute with a rose on it! (I am not the proud owner of a set of two.)Pasadena, CA

The game itself was exciting, (a little too exciting in the 4th quarter if you ask me) and the setting for college football was perfect. Before long the sun set on the mountains and we were celebrating a victory. Memories I will not forget any time soon.

 

A Very Happy Ohio State Alum,

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…)

From the Land Where Palm Trees Sway…

Aloha! I just got back from a lovely getaway in the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands. I have always been a person who has said, “Why would I travel all the way to Hawaii when I can be in the Caribbean within two hours?”. Well, my friends, I am here to say it, it is just different. It is beautifully imperfect with its abundant palm trees; stunning views of land & sea and the people bring hospitality to life. After all, the pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality.Maui, Hawaii

This is going to be a fun one, let’s take a minute to hear about our trip from Columbus, an overnight in L.A., and of course Maui. My husband, our two dear friends and myself have been eagerly awaiting this trip since we booked it late this summer. It was perfect timing as the winter moves in quickly and a new year approaches.

Maui, HawaiiWe left out of Columbus’ John Glenn International Airport and spent the night in Los Angeles. On the way to Maui we stayed at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel and on the way back we stayed at Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Both hotels were just so beautiful, decorated festively, convenient and so hip. The Renaissance, in true Renaissance fashion, made you feel like a local celebrity. Large posh silver lion statues sat alongside the stairs leading to the elevator banks and the silver holiday decorations glimmered in the dim lighting.

The Marriott on our return was a saving grace as we were exhausted and starving. We made ourselves comfortable at Hangar 18 Bar + Kitchen to grab a (very) late night dinner and we were so thankful that it was still open! I wish I had a little more time to spend in the Marriott, but we were up and out by 5am the next day. When we were in the elevator, I noticed their floor instructions, for the meeting & event spaces, each space was named after cities across the United States (i.e. Boston, Miami, Dallas, etc.) Then, the smaller breakout spaces were named after regions in California (i.e. Irvine, La Jolla, Long Beach, etc.)

Marriott LAXOk, off to Hawaii! Our trip took us to Maui County. (I learned a lot during our visit including that Maui is Maui County and is made up of 5 islands: Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini.) We were on the west side of the island of Maui on Kaanapali Beach. From the minute we touched down at the airport and walked through the open-air baggage claim, it was easy to see why Hawaii is such a favorite among many travelers. THE VIEWS. EVERYWHERE.Maui , Hawaii

Our drive from the airport along Hawaii Route 30 to our resort was breathtaking. No matter where we were our entire trip, we could look in one direction and see the West Maui Mountains and look to the other for the deep blue Pacific Ocean. The photo to the right is from a scenic lookout on our drive!

After two flights accumulating 10 hours, an overnight stay in L.A. and a 45-minute car ride, we finally arrived at our home for the next week, Honua Kai Resort & Spa. We walked in the front doors to an open-air lobby (all the hotels had open air throughout their lobby, isn’t that awesome?) and a direct view to red umbrellas, pools and the ocean. Our accommodations were perfect for four traveling together as we had a two bedroom suite with separate rooms & bathrooms along with a spacious living room, kitchen and lanai. We got to our room and we couldn’t move fast enough to get unpacked and into our swimming suits.Honua Kai - Maui

First stop: Duke’s Beach House. Duke’s sat on our resort grounds and we spent A LOT of time here. Amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner options, all open air and on the ocean, live music in the afternoons featuring your favorite holiday tunes played by the light sounds of a ukulele. At 3 o’clock each day (my husband had an alarm set on his watch… not joking.) they featured Aloha Hour (happy hour), with specials highlighting their Mai Tai and quick bites.

We were located just north of Whalers Village which had outdoor shopping along the ocean with a few restaurants (we tried them all). Leilani’s was known for their fish tacos (we now see why), MonkeyPod featured the best Mai Tai on the island (from many references) that is topped with a house made lilikoi (passion fruit) foam and Hula Grill is where we had dinner our first night in Maui. Mahi Mahi was the highlight of just about every menu as it is caught fresh daily and boy was it delicious!Maui, Hawaii

The city center of Lahaina is a quaint town along the shore with many boutique type shops, restaurants, hole-in-the-wall bars & quick bites. One of our favorites was called, Down the Hatch, the food was so, so good and was within an open-air atrium surrounded by a multi floor area of shops.

I could go on all day about the friendly people, the views, the food, etc. So, I really need to narrow it down and round out this blog with my two favorite memories: The Mill House and whale watching.

*Cue Jurassic Park theme song.* The Mill House sits nestled on a tropical plantation along the West Maui mountains. (Do you remember what Jurassic Park looked like prior to destruction? This is it. Ok, well maybe not literally, BUT, the 1993 classic was shot on Kauai with one scene on Maui.) Here we enjoyed true farm to table hospitality. The menu changes daily. I had THE FLUFFIEST gnocchi with root vegetables while my husband enjoyed shrimp dumplings in a shellfish broth. I will never forget this meal or the view for that matter.Mill House Maui

I am not a big excursion gal. I am just as happy sitting on a beach or floating around a pool. However, I’d go whale watching time and time again. It was by far one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Though it was still a few days before whale season, we were so lucky, and saw a ton of activity. We even saw two whales breach (jump & flip out of water)! This is the most uncommon occurrence for whales to do and we saw two. If you look closely in the photo below, there is a whale tail!Maui, Hawaii

It is amazing to think creatures like these are swimming around our oceans. Whale season peaks during this time of year because the whales travel from Alaska to Maui to mate in the warmer waters. Baby whales do not have a blubber layer built up when born and cannot be birthed into the cold waters of Alaska (like I said I learned a lot on this trip).Maui, Hawaii

We also had the great opportunity to attend a traditional Polynesian Luau characterized by celebration with family (ohana). We thoroughly enjoyed the lively dances, traditional Polynesian food and the excitement that comes with a luau.

Maui has left a stamp on my heart and I hope to return. In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s keep our hospitable nature alive. Thank you for reading and hanging with us through 2018. Happy Holidays, Mele Kalikimaka and cheers to 2019!

“The state of Aloha can be created in an instant. It is a decision to behave with kindness, with generosity, wanting to give joy to another.”  – Irmgard Farden Aluli (Hawaiian Composer)

A Hui Hou (until we meet again),

Lauren

Maui, Hawaii

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