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

 

 

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

There is Something About Avalon

There is a lot to be said about The Avalon Inn & Resort in the Northeastern corner of our state and my hometown, Warren, Ohio. I was back in Warren for a wedding (imagine that!) and had the opportunity to stay the night at this local Inn. The Avalon Inn & Resort is nestled alongside Avalon Lakes which is a legendary golf course that was designed by famous golf course architect, John Dye. The Inn itself offers excellent views of the course from entry, many of the sleeping rooms and the Grand Pavilion event space which offers a panoramic view of the course with its’ floor to ceiling windows.

When you are done with this read, I encourage you to take a look at their online magazine!

For some time, Avalon has been the premiere destination for various golf tournaments, outings and special events. I have fond memories of attending several LPGA tournaments as a young girl with my parents at Avalon and if I am being completely honest, I still have my Tweety Bird visor adorned with several autographs.

The Inn is charming with a classic approach to a modern time with white and brick exterior. Coming up the steps and through the main entrance I look out ahead and can see a sneak peek of the course. Before I get too far, I am warmly welcomed by the hospitable team (and many more times throughout my stay). I check-in quickly and am handed a sleek black and gold envelope with my key cards and onto room 163!

Avalon Inn & Resort - Warren, OHOur accommodations were spacious, comfortable, updated and quite lovely. The hallways have accents of black and foil gold patterned walls with white wood paneling. The same vibe carried on into the sleeping rooms with gray and charcoal metallic wall coverings. Our room had a large mini-fridge and coffee station (some of my most important things when traveling!). Oh, and the beds were SO comfortable!

While visiting Avalon there is quite the array of things to do such as hit the course for 18, take a swim in their large indoor pool, take care of all your fitness routines in their recreation center, hop on the shuttle to a sister property (Avalon at Buhl Park and Squaw Creek) to enjoy the spa or other golf options. Gatsby’s, Lobby Bar  and The Chophouse are all dining and lounge options. Gatsby’s  and The Chophouse are both obvious options in the area when looking for steak, seafood, pasta or an extensive wine list.

This property is also one of the most highly recommended for events. From their ballroom to the Grand Pavilion, these spaces are easy to make your own but do not require you to. They are beautiful spaces different in their own right.Avalon Inn & Resort - Warren, OH

I am sure you are thinking, “Wow! They really have it all!”. Well my friends, Avalon continues to grow and improve their guest experience. Currently, they are mid-construction on an outdoor, multi-tiered pool and lounge area and the renderings are beautiful!

If you are searching for an overnight where comfort, hospitality, golf and food unite, this is your spot!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren