Off to Athens!

Let’s shuffle off to the Southeastern part of the state and the home of the Ohio University Bobcats. There is a new boutique hotel in Athens that you just need to hear about. The Athens Central Hotel is now open for business and in the heart of Athens.Athens Central Hotel

This offers a unique option if you are in the area and lucky for you, it is just steps away from the popular Court Street and bustling Uptown Athens. If you are not familiar with Uptown Athens, become acquainted! There are great coffee shops, pubs, dining options, and nightlife excitement for all who visit the area.

Athens Central HotelAn all-white structure with sparkling silver lettering would capture any passerby’s attention and the interiors welcome much of the same aesthetic with a beautiful blue color palette. The entire property feels very European and something, well, you just might find in Greece.

Each room is unique and no two rooms are the same. One of my favorite details are the chevron laid flooring and the beautiful bathrooms. Each bathroom features shower options from waterfall to body jets and sliding glass doors.

Athens Central HotelMaybe you should plan a little staycation and take the short drive to Athens… perhaps to see the Fall foilage, OU’s infamous Green Beer Day, or to enjoy all that Uptown has to offer.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Emerging Brands, Oh My!

Many of you are familiar with our handy, dandy, OHLA Brand Guide which offers a great breakdown of brands across all tiers in our industry. Each year the guide is reviewed, edited between tiers, new brands added, other brands removed, and every single year… we are surprised (and excited) by the changes and additions we see.

Here is a quick review of the changes we made to our brand guide for 2020:

Thompson Hotels – In October of 2018 Hyatt acquired the luxury line of Thompson Hotels and in March of 2019 the 8 existing Thompson Hotels were transitioned as part of Hyatt

Signia by Hilton – In February of 2019 Signia by Hilton was announced. This brand offers a new approach to your standard rooms to space ratio with a meetings & events focused approach.

 

Aiden – Best Western added this brand to reflect a casual, eclectic, and trendy boutique hotel to their portfolio.

 

SADIE – Also by Best Western, this boutique brand will help capture the playfulness of travel and embody the creative and unique culture of the neighborhood of where each property sits.

 

 

MOTTO by Hilton – City life encompassed within small rooms with flexible furniture set-up to offer a true urban experience.

 

Miraval – An all-inclusive wellness resort dedicated to their guests finding balance and their best selves

(In addition to these brands being added to the guide, other brands moved within their chain scale. If you’d like a copy of our brand guide to see everything in the big picture, please send me an email at Lauren@ohla.org!)

Though we aren’t seeing any of these brands in Ohio currently, it does not mean we won’t see them in the future. Just think, it was not all that long ago that brands like AC by Marriott and Tru by Hilton were emerging and here we are… with close to 6 of each within the state either opened or underway.

We are looking forward to another year of growth and new potential.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Cure Those January [BLU]es

How are you feeling this January? Looking for any glimpse of sunshine? If yes, you and I are in the same boat. No need to be “BLU”, I have exciting news! The BLU-Tique Hotel rang in the new year by opening its’ doors for the first time to the public.The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

Excitement has been stirring around the newest addition to the thriving downtown Akron Arts District. This independent property now occupies the historic United One Building and is all about offering an all-encompassing experience through three pillars: come for the food, stay for the music, and stay for the night. The hotel itself is the third dynamic to the “BLU Zone Trio”, a concept driven by the vision of the owner, Tony Troppe. The trio consists of the hotel, BLU Plate, and BLU Jazz+.The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

An upscale, jazzy feel welcomes guests both in the public areas and sleeping rooms.
One of my favorite unique qualities is that there is a piano stage in the lobby where guests may sign up to play at night. Unfortunately, I am not a pianist, but I’d love to enjoy another’s talent.

Being a Northeast Ohio girl, this location will be somewhere I certainly visit sometime very soon. It is exciting to see the development happening across the state especially when it is in “your neck of the woods”.

The BLU-Tique - Akron, Ohio

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

A Yurt Experience

2020 is here! Isn’t that hard to believe? This year is already off to an exciting start!

Professionally, OHLA recently moved offices for the first time in 40 years from the exciting Short North Arts District to bustling downtown Columbus, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse. Personally, for those who do not know, Sean & I are expecting our first child in March.

With this being said, this blog comes to your inbox in the spirit of overwhelming excitement and positivity for this year and Sean & I squeezing in as much as we can in the few short weeks we have left as a party of two.

Another thing off of the bucket list for us… we stayed in a yurt. A beautiful, cozy, quaint yurt. You may have the same question my sister did… “What is a yurt?”. A yurt is a round structure that includes a lattice skeleton covered by a fabric-like wall covering, and a dome skylight at the center of the roof covering. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls recently added yurts to their options for accommodations and I just had to check it out!

Our yurt, Firefly, had a large bed, a kitchenette, a sitting area and full bathroom. My favorite part about our stay was that there was not a television. After enjoying a delectable dinner at Kindred Spirits, the on-site restaurant, we went back and played an intense and competitive game of Scrabble. A Scrabble game that seemed to have no end in sight.

I awakened in the middle of the night and was mesmerized by the moon shining in through the skylight and the pitter patter of rain drops on the yurt. It felt special and in a way comforting. In the morning, we put on the soft cozy robes and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the wrap-around porch. (Yes, we were outside, in the morning, in January… you know, it was casually almost 60 degrees.)

We wrapped our stay with a visit to the spa and were then on our way back to Columbus.

En route back home, we stopped at the Hocking Hills Inn and Coffee Emporium. If you are passing by or coming to stay, be sure to stop here! They have an extensive menu of all of your favorite coffee, espresso, and tea favorites in a beautiful café setting. They also have great grab-and-go items for a quick snack or lunch. Next time I am in the Hocking region, I will definitely need to check out the suites available at the inn, they look so beautiful!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

 

Into the Wild at Kalahari

It’s hard to believe that Kalahari Sandusky has been a staple for so many years and continues to be at the forefront for just about everything from family fun, to conference services, to innovative dining, a rejuvenating spa experience, (…OR attending our annual conference in a few short days). The service, the food, the venue is always so impressive and is such a dynamic setting.

If you’re in just the right spot, at just the right time, they might just have you convinced that you were transported to the African countryside.

Something that is new(er) is B-Lux Grill & Bar. It is my favorite dining outlet and offers my preferred combo of the savory and the sweet. A great place for laid back grub offering a wide array of different burgers, sandwiches and other comfort foods like gourmet macaroni and cheese! Now, things get serious when we start talking about dessert… the milkshake options are extensive and are just…so….good. From a cupcake to a donut, you will have all your milkshake dreams met! Make sure you look at the milkshake menu BEFORE you order dinner to ensure you have plenty of room to indulge.

If you aren’t here for a meeting, or you are able to enjoy any of the other amenities – check out the water park. What a fun array of activities! Ride all of the slides, the lazy river and be submerged under the “dump buckets”. You know, those water vortex things that spits you out a funnel? This is a fantastic place for families. It’s safe and there are a zillion different things to do for all ages. There is much more than meets the eye – water slides, a zip line course, and animals! There is a mini zoo!Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!

So whether you’re there for a meeting, splashing around in the water park, relaxing in the Spa Kalahari & Salon or restaurant hopping, take some time to check out the detail of this place.

I hope YOU have decided to #jointhecaravan and we will see you at this dynamic venue November 25-26!

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Great spot for indoor fun, year round for couples or families!

Morning Rainbows @ Kalahari – Sandusky

Anything but Ordinary – MOXY Columbus Short North

We had an exciting Grand Opening this week for the FIRST Moxy Hotel in Ohio! It opened in the popular Short North Arts District in Downtown Columbus. If you are a hotel-lifer, this brand may surprise you and it is anything but ordinary.

Walking into the Moxy, I felt the energy that reverberates from the walls. The pops of magenta, the music bumping upstairs, and of course the overall modern and fun design. Hanging from the ceiling was fabric and textiles that created a chandelier affect and was the perfect accent to the magenta “red carpet” that was rolled out for guests.The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

The second floor is where the action is at! Common in our industry is the idea of “activating your space” and Moxy is in full activation mode. A rectangular, lively bar opens to sleek gathering spaces, a fireplace wall and a pool table.

Are you wondering about a front desk?

You will not find that here. Check-in is at the bar!

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OHCity living is the vibe I felt when I saw the brand-new rooms. They are minimal in nature with an efficient use of space. An extra chair or a table could be hanging on a hook in your room! Never know when you’ll need an extra seat for entertaining! I was surprised to find that a few of the rooms feature personal balcony areas looking out over Short North.

There are several unique and quirky attributes of the brand but I have to share my favorite one… as a guest you may have the opportunity to be flocked by flamingos. Yup, you read that correctly. You may arrive back to your room, walk in and see a few décor additions that were not there prior. Think lots of flamingos, pink lights, pink candies and so forth.The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

As I left the Moxy and walked down High Street, I smiled because from the sidewalk, you can see the pink glow and excitement brewing on the second floor. My bet is that this energy will draw just about any passerby in to answer their curiosities.

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

The Moxy Short North - Columbus, OH

 

Refined Hospitality at Hancock Hotel

An enlightened experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

A Destination in Pennsylvania – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Labor Day weekend is always special to me. My husband and I were married over Labor Day weekend in 2015, so every year we try to take advantage of the long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. This year, we spent the weekend at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort nestled in the rolling hills of Farmington, Pennsylvania and an easy commute of just over 3 hours from Cleveland or Columbus.

Nemacolin - Farmington, PANemacolin is an extensive experience with three lodging establishments on site: Chateau Lafayette, The Lodge and Falling Rock plus townhomes and luxury vacation homes. We stayed at the French inspired Chateau Lafayette, a true grand European resort.

Once we began approaching Nemacolin, we could see the Chateau perfectly situated on the hilltop. As we approached the curvy, steep driveway, we were quickly greeted by the security gate attendant and continued our way up to this beautiful architectural gem.

We were immediately assisted out of the car, luggage loaded, and went to check-in. Upon check-in we gladly accepted a glass of champagne (or sparkling cider), were warmly welcomed with a “Happy Anniversary!” and were promptly on our way to our room.

The Chateau in one word is GRAND. Marble flooring, wood paneled walls, an extensive art collection, sparkling chandeliers, beautiful floral arrangements, statues and elaborate draperies are just a few of the décor qualities you’ll find throughout the property.Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Chandeliers are sparkling everywhere you look. The hallway leading to our room is chandelier lined, the entry way of our room had a chandelier, a large chandelier hung over the bed… just beautiful. Our room had two large windows with a stunning view of the fog settling in the hills.

Nemacolin - Farmington, PADuring our stay we took advantage of the many activities available to us. The first day we went clay shooting (yes, they trusted me with a rifle!), we shared relaxing time poolside, enjoyed dinner at Rockwell’s (a steakhouse) and rounded out the evening at Sean’s favorite, the cigar bar.

Day two started off with pouring showers and thunderstorms. However, this did not stop my husband from golfing one of his favorite courses, Mystic Rock. I took the much more warm, cozy and indoor approach… I started with a cup of coffee in one of the many parlor/nooks throughout the resort. This parlor offered a large standing birdcage with beautiful chirping birds, century furniture, big windows and sparkling chandeliers. It was so peaceful and quiet.Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Once I finished every last drop, I headed to the Nemacolin Spa. The spa was so beautiful and calming. The “waiting” area offered chaise  loungers, with faux fur blankets and a massive wood-burning fireplace in the middle. It was a perfect fit for a dreary morning. Luckily, by the afternoon, we got to soak in a few additional rays at the pool and partake in an overly competitive game of putt-putt (I need a vote… Sean won by a few strokes BUT I got a hole-in-one, that has to count for something!).

I could go on, and on, and on, and on about Nemacolin Resort. There is just SO much you can do either as a couple, a family, with co-workers, etc. There is truly something for EVERYONE from accommodations to activities to food.

This is a place we will return to without a doubt in my mind. It has a new, special place in our hearts and we look forward to making many more memories here!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

Nemacolin - Farmington, PA

 

Are you a Thrill Seeker?!

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

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

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

Castaway Bay

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

Cedar Point Express Hotel

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

Hotel Breakers

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

Lighthouse Point

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

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

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

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

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

An INNvitation to Ada

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

The Inn at Ohio Northern - Ada, Ohio