The Home of Bigfoot

How do you make the most out of a 3-year-old’s birthday when you can’t have a party because of a pandemic? 

  • Grandparents
  • A Swimming Pool
  • Bigfoot

And as far as I know, there’s only one place in Ohio where we could find all of those things in one place – Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center.  Lauren and I had visited Salt Fork a few years back and although I wished we were back on the water in the afternoon summer sun, we were visiting on a cold, rainy weekend in February, but we had a birthday to celebrate with grandparents and the weather wasn’t going to stop my kiddo from making the most out of his 3rd birthday.

Salt Fork

We packed up the car and drove to Salt Fork, an easy drive just under 2 hours from Columbus.  Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center is one of eight State Park Lodges that are part of the Great Ohio Lodges family, and it boasts cabins, lodge rooms, lots of meeting space, two pools, marina access, miles of hiking and equestrian trails and lots of other outdoor activities, all nestled in the heart of Salt Fork State Park.

Salt Fork recently renovated their lodge rooms and we had selected the bunk rooms since we had two kids with us. Lane thought the bunk in the wall was basically the coolest thing ever (“like a fort!”), so we could have been done with the birthday surprises there and called it a success…but, we had been cooped up for almost a year and we were ready to hit the pool.  The indoor pool was warm, not overcrowded and just what we needed at the end of a long, cold Ohio winter.

After hours in the pool and a great dinner, we retired to our rooms for cupcakes and presents.  One of the great bonus features of all the lodge rooms is the extra living space. It was easy for us to spread out, play cards and enjoy each other’s company. When the weather is more in your favor, guests can expand their living space onto the balconies that overlook the lake or the pool, a feature in every lodge guest room!

Salt Fork

After a busy weekend of swimming, we had to make sure to say hi to and hold hands with Bigfoot one last time before we headed home.  If you didn’t know, Salt Fork has allegedly been the home to bigfoot since the mid-1700s with several reported sightings. Each year, the Annual Bigfoot Conference happens here, the longest running Bigfoot Conference in the world. To learn more about the Annual Bigfoot Conference or Creature Weekend, visit the Visit Guernsey County Website.    

Salt Fork

Hospitality Inn the Hills

Labor Day weekend is always a special time of year for me; not only because it is the official turning point into Fall (in my mind) but it is also the weekend I got married back in 2015. For our 5th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something special, however, being in the midst of a pandemic and having a new baby at home didn’t exactly make planning easy.

Welsh Hills Inn

We found ourselves wanting a safe getaway for just us two where we could relax and enjoy the weather and each other’s company and we found the PERFECT place to do just that at the Welsh Hills Inn. Located just 40 minutes east of Columbus in Granville.

Not only was this our first venture during the pandemic, but it was also our first time away from our baby boy, Leo, who was born in February. We jam packed our weekend with food, wine and outdoor enjoyment.

We headed to Granville on Saturday morning, a lovely little town if you’ve never been, and we enjoyed lunch at The Pub on Broadway, walked to see the historic Granville Inn and grabbed a cold brew for the road from Village Coffee Company. Next stop: Welsh Hills Inn.

Welsh Hills Inn

We traveled a short distance through rolling hills of green and sunshine and pulled into the driveway to our oasis atop the hill. The minute our tires hit the parking area we were warmly greeted by a fluffy little character named Wrigley. Wrigley is one of four gracious hosts at the inn; Ellie the Golden Retriever and the sweet and welcoming owners, Jeff & Bobbi Noe. Wrigley & Ellie would soon become a staple of our weekend; we just did not know that yet.

Welsh Hills Inn

Wrigley quickly urged us along to the entrance, stopping along the path to ensure we were following. Jeff welcomed us and showed us to our suite, the Brynmor Luxe Suite (& Wrigley’s favorite spot in the inn). The suite is complete with a living area and bar top. The entire inn is decorated with a certain New England charm and curated artwork and artifacts throughout. One of my favorite activities was to wander and see what book I could snag or new artwork I could learn about.

While visiting, we took advantage of their bocce courts under string lights; enjoyed a private fire pit while sipping our favorite wine; indulged in massages; relaxed in the hot tub & poolside and attempted to lay in the hammocks. There are also trails, bike rentals, arranged picnics, yoga classes, a stocked fishing pond and more for guests to schedule to enhance their stay. (Click here for picturesque drone footage of Welsh Hills Inn.)

In the evenings, while the sun was setting, we would sit on the wrap around porch in rocking chairs and enjoy Jeff & Bobbi’s curated wine & cheese “happy hour”, an opportunity for guests to mingle in a non-pandemic world. By morning, we’d dive in to the most scrumptious breakfast offerings comprised of locally sourced ingredients and cooked to perfection both mornings.

Welsh Hills Inn

In celebration of our anniversary, we opted to have a candlelight dinner on their beautiful veranda. It was a perfect end to a magical and much needed stay. We were again treated to a delicious multi-course meal that left us wishing Jeff was a permanent fixture in our kitchen.

Welsh Hills Inn is a special place- it’s warm, inviting, charming… but, what really makes it so special is the hospitality and genuine care of Jeff & Bobbi and their sidekicks Wrigley & Ellie.

I am ready to hit “go” on travel again and hope to be sharing with you many ventures in 2021.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Meet Wrigley – Pictured here on the couch within our suite and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Welsh Hills Inn

Planning your summer trips & holiday weekends? Check out www.uniquelodgingofohio.com.

A Dome to Call Home

Hi, I’m Jackie, Halle’s sister. Like most brides, I always envisioned jetting off to some across-the-sea adventure honeymoon after my wedding, be it to white sand beaches or some picturesque European city. Fast forward to the highly stressful act of wedding planning in a pandemic, and that reality was put on hold.

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Lucky for me and my husband, Chase, we don’t even have to leave the state of Ohio to get that picturesque, romantic Mini Moon while we await the days when international travel becomes truly realistic again.

Following our March wedding weekend, we took the barely one-hour drive down to Hocking Hills from Columbus for a weekend stay inside one of the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls’ new Geodomes. The inn’s website describes these newly built forest igloos as “the best of glamping.”

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

These domes tower to 14 feet at the highest point, much bigger than what you’d expect from the little green dome you see from the outside. And I’m both impressed and amused that at more than 706 square feet, these cute “little” domes provide more space than my first two Columbus apartments.

A cozy king-size bed faces an expansive viewing window that looks out into the thickly forested section of Hocking Hills. The room boasts a small kitchenette with retro appliances, a dining area, and a seating area. Around the corner, a gorgeous bathroom with black pebble shower floors – a massage for your feet, my husband accurately declared – gave us everything we needed for our stay. Soft, warm robes included.

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Apparently, these are the first geodomes in the U.S. with indoor plumbing, HVAC, and electricity. I’m not an overly outdoorsy girl, despite my love for Hocking Hills. So for that, I am that much more grateful.

If for any reason, we had to be trapped in that sweet and cozy half-sphere for the weekend, we probably would have been delighted. We had leftover wedding cake and champagne, after all.

But the grouping of domes is just a short walk away from the inn’s Kindred Spirits restaurant. We walked to breakfast there each morning as well as dinner, which was delicious each time. And right behind that is the spa building where we both had Swedish massages. And of course, being at the inn also means we have easy access to the best hiking spots.

While life slowly creeps back toward normal, I assume out-of-state and international travel will continue to pick up. But looking back on it, I’m not entirely sure I would have chosen differently had the options for travel not been restricted. Knowing we’ll still be able to head overseas when it’s safer to do so, the geodome experience provided us an incredibly relaxing and beautiful getaway after a busy wedding planning experience.

Visit www.uniquelodgingofohio.com for your next Ohio experience!

How do you discover Unique Ohio?

It has been a while and the world looks even more different than it did a couple months ago. Being cooped up all spring and the better part of the summer is making many eager to get out of the house. Others though are a bit travel shy, and that is okay. Meet somewhere in the middle. Ohio’s Unique Lodging properties are only a short drive away and I know exactly where you can find them – www.uniquelodgingofohio.com

Discover Unique Ohio…

By Region

Search by any of Ohio’s 8 major regions – Amish Country, Central, Hocking Hills, Lake Erie & Geneva-on-the-Lake, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest – to find the atmosphere and unique lodging that you desire.

 

 

 

 

 

By Unique Accommodations

You will be sure to find lodging that satisfies everyone’s comfort level and needs with a variety of property types. With inns, cabins, tree houses, B&Bs, and more you will be sure not to disappoint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Shared Experiences

Hear directly from the communities across the state of Ohio with our local blog posts. Learn about the latest news, upcoming events, must-visit destinations, and vacation suggestions for that region.

 

 

 

 

 

By Special Promotions

Ohio is an ideal destination for exploring historic sites, spending time in the scenic outdoors and sipping local wine (who knew?) while you soak up the beauty of the valley. Right now there are getaways available of up to 35% off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Local Events

Discover new, exclusive, and socially distant experiences happening all around the state. You may be surprised what you find..

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how you search Unique Ohio one thing is for sure: there is something for everyone.

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

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