Get Outdoors!

Today, I write to you from Mohican Lodge & Conference Center where I’ve been enjoying the state park for the OHLA Board Retreat. In honor of our theme today, the Superpowers of Life is Good, I’m going to stick to SIMPLICITY and tell you that if you haven’t checked out one of our State Park Lodges this summer, you still have time to enjoy the great outdoors at one of these fabulous places!

Burr Oak

Deer Creek

Hueston Woods

Maumee Bay

Mohican

Punderson

Salt Fork

Shawnee

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

What’s in the Pipeline?

Image result for banzai pipeline

Not that pipeline!!

Even as I started typing the headline, my thoughts immediately redirected to that famous Hawaiian scene, but maybe that’s because I spent my lunch hour reading about expected drops in rates to Hawaii in 2017 (please! please! please!).  But, my head isn’t too far in the clouds, because in Ohio, there’s a lot in our pipeline – our hotel pipeline that is!  Every day I receive emails about new properties being built across our great state, but today I heard a really crazy one. OK, not too crazy, but I saw headlines like Schott-topia, Schottenstein Resort, etc.  And, if you don’t know Columbus, you might not immediately associate Schottenstein with OSU.  Did you know there are three hotels on the table to be built near downtown Columbus as part of Schottenstein’s proposed “Grand Central” complex?

And that’s just the beginning. From proposed/planning to just opened, let’s surf through some of Ohio’s pipeline.

New Brand Properties

A few weeks ago we talked about Cobblestone, a new brand for Ohio. If you’re living under a stone – ahem – rock, you can read more about that here. But, they aren’t the only ones.  Soon in the Short North, Columbus’ Arts District, we’re expecting to see ground breaking on Moxy, a Marriott brand that claims to be “a boutique hotel with the social heart of a hostel.” This property is moving in where the former Haiku Restaurant once stood. (Expected opening: Spring 2019).

And speaking of new brands, what about Cincinnati’s new The Summit Hotel, the first of Wydham’s Dolce Collection to enter the Ohio market?  This is a much anticipated project for the Cincinnati town of Madisonville. In addition to new meeting space for the area, this new property comes equipped with a roof top garden and an option for an “all inclusive stay” – breakfast, lunch and dinner included. (Expected opening Spring 2018)

Curio CollectionMoxy & Dolce are coming into the Ohio market slowly and quietly.  But Curio is making a huge splash (you’re thinking about Hawaii again, aren’t you?). My records show at least three Curio by Hilton properties under development in Ohio right now.  Curious about Curio? There’s a lot to know! Curio is a new-ish brand for Hilton, replacing the former DoubleTree model for historic renovations and independent conversions. I’ve had some experience with Curios in other states and I’m super pumped to see them finally making the Ohio market.  Some of these are rumored to be Curios, but bear with me! On the docket are: Curio by Hilton Cleveland Huntington Bank Building, Cleveland (2018); Curio by Hilton Hall of Fame Village, Canton (Summer 2019); The Hayden Columbus, Curio Collection by Hilton (unknown).

Not to be outdone by the modernness of Moxy or the rush of Ohio

Tru by Hiltondevelopment of Curio, comes another addition from the Hilton family of brands that came into Ohio with jackhammers blazing.  Tru says it is “vibrant, affordable and young-at-heart.” With super bright colors and a funky exterior, you won’t be able to miss one of the five properties making their way to Ohio. Soon to open it’s bright doors to “something different” are: Tru by Hilton Cleveland (2019); Tru by Hilton Grove City (unknown); Tru by Hilton Columbus Airport (unknown); Tru by Hilton Huber Heights (2018) and Tru by Hilton Dayton Beavercreek (proposed).

New Independent Properties

Now, don’t get too stuck on the brands battling their way into Ohio.  There are plenty of new independent properties also making their way onto the scene. Personally, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of Findlay’s Image result for marathon petroleumHancock Hotel, being built by Marathon Petroleum and managed by First Hospitality Group (Hotel LeVeque, Columbus & Renaissance Toledo). This hotel has been on the books for a while and will hopefully open February 2018. At opening, the hotel will be complete with not-so-common independent amenities such as a ballroom which can accommodate 360 people, a full service restaurant, Mancy’s, and an impressive presidential suite with a rooftop terrace. Read more, here.

Some of our new independent properties are new builds, others are

Image result for ohio city logoimpressive renovation undertakings and some, are both.  Take Cleveland’s recently announced Hulett Hotel, the first lodging accommodation of its kind to open in the vibrant Ohio City. The Hulett Hotel is a 25-room project nestled in the heart of Ohio City in the former Luthern Metropolitan Ministry building. The project is in planning stages, but the Ohio City resident and owner/developer plans to have the property open for business by Summer 2018.

Finally, I’d be remiss (and my husband will lecture me for hours) if I didn’t mention the much anticipated BrewDog hotel, The DogHouse, in Canal Winchester. Truly independent in nature, in just two months, BrewDog raised over $300,000 through a crowdfunding effort to help kickstart the hotel and sour beer brewing facility. Beer fanatics, like my husband, were quick to scour the contribution levels which guaranteed investors perks such as a flagship stay, a trip to the beer spa, or even a soak in the beer hot tub. I’m not 100% sure how that’s all going to work, but I’m sure happy to watch it develop in my own backyard. Meanwhile, TJ will just be daydreaming of his flagship stay and soak in the beer tub, the crowdfunding shutdown abruptly when anticipated funding soared past their goal of just $75,000.

Needless to say, we’ve got a lot going on. By my count, there are at least 100 hotels being planned or executed in Ohio as I write this blog.  Are you in Ohio and wondering what’s being built around the corner or on your drive to work? Just ask!

Who ever said Ohio isn’t the hippest place to be?  I’ll tell you what, in Ohio, you can find it here.

Image result for ohio find it here

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

 

 

 

WOW in West Chester

Don’t you hate when you have your heart set on some event or activity and then it gets ripped away by another calendar intrusion? OK, OK. I can’t completely complain because I was on vacation, BUT, for the first time since I joined the association family, I missed the Ohio Society of Association Executives (OSAE) Conference a few weeks ago.  Guys, this was a big miss. Why, you ask? Because.  There was an evening filled with whacking golf balls off of a deck zillions of feet in the air at Topgolf. There was a DONUT TRAIL. And, we would be staying at the beautifully renovated Cincinnati Marriott North (CMN). Fortunately, I have the job I do and I got to recreate at least part of the missed conference and stayed at the property this week. It was a big deal for me because after so many dedicated nights away from home and travel time, I finally got to enjoy one of the <75 M Clubs in the country, I got to experience one of the most bad-ass treadmills I’ve ever ran on, and I got to see one of my favorite good friends and his amazing team. Let’s go!

Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriott

As some of you know, Marriott has a new package it’s rolling out for many of its properties.  And I won’t be the first one to say it… FINALLY! For a while there, you could have dropped me in 100 different Marriott lobbies and I wouldn’t know where I was because they all looked the same. The Cincinnati Marriott North is all moody and thoughtful with grays, blues and greens as its theme. (The new Marriott Columbus University Area sticks to reds, for example).  There are of course some things you can always expect with a Marriott, exemplary service, fantastic amenities and a really good night’s sleep.

My room was beautiful.  I checked in late, so I was ready to catch some Zzzs. I wasn’t surprised to see the new design following some of the trends I’ve seen of new-builds: clean lines, less clutter, Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriottminimal desks, multi-purpose trays and spaces. One of the other changes I’m a huge fan of is no more of that stock artwork.  My room had two photos of Cincinnati – one of the historic Union Terminal & Cincinnati Museum Center and the other of the tree-lined park by the Ohio river. Another fun thing I’ve noticed at other hotels and that I saw here was an opportunity to go green.  If you’re like me, you really don’t leave a mess when you travel. Actually, I presume I’m every housekeepers favorite. I keep all of my trash to one can, pick up all of my used towels and place them on the top of the toilet and rewind the hairdryer and place it neatly back in place. So why not be rewarded?!

Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriott

Now, you can hang a little tag outside of your door at night to inform staff you don’t need housekeeping the next day. The reward? Loyalty points! Genius.

After a great night’s sleep – you know where I’m headed. I walked into one of the *BEST* gyms I’ve been in in recent memory.  It was my dream come true. Compact, efficient, big mirrors, AC set below 68 and oh, those beautiful treadmills. I know, you are literally laughing at me right now. But have you seen one of these new LifeFitness gems?  Did you know you could run along the beach in Monterey, CA and wave at fellow runners from all over the world, right from Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriottthe comforts of your very own (OK, the CMN’s) treadmill? I didn’t think so! I know it’s a little hard to understand from my photo, but see that little green, human-looking blob in the middle? It is a human! It’s a woman, in London, running with me on the beach. I can even see her picture. Crazy. You should have seen me kick it into high gear when I saw a pack of runners I could actually pass.

Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriott

After I entertained myself for over an hour with all of the fun gym toys, I needed to eat. This was my moment of glory.  The M Club. If you’re a Marriott Gold or Platinum member and you’re lucky enough to be at a property with an M Club, you receive a hot breakfast each morning, hors d’oeuvres and desserts at night, plus a fancy Starbucks machine and 24 hour access for working, Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriottsocializing, etc.  If you aren’t a Gold or Platinum member, you can pay to upgrade your room. This M Club was created using space from the former restaurant and is located on the first floor. It’s truly an awesome perk and from a business perspective, a way better concept than the former concierge lounge, tucked away on whatever floor.  Think of when you walk through the airport and

Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriott

pass the XYZ Airline Lounge where you’re longing for free high speed wifi and cocktail service without a bunch of screaming children?  It creates FOMO. If you put this on the first floor, guests see it and want to be part of it. If for some reason the M Club isn’t for you, there’s a fantastic looking breakfast buffet available at the new Butler’s (formerly River City Grille). Cool new heating and cooling technology makes the buffet look sleek and inviting. Would they have minded if I ate twice?

I did my best to make the most out of my quick trip to Butler County and the fantastic Cincinnati Marriott North. After months and months of renovations, it’s no wonder their staff recently jumped to the top 25% of all Marriott’s in Customer Service. Now they’ve got a product to really be proud of. Can’t wait to see where they go next!

Greater Cincinnati Area Lodging, Marriott

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

What’s Best about the New Best Western?

First, I have to give a quick shout out to Suman for helping me with a guest blog while I traveled to our annual family vacation in North Carolina.  It’s so great to be surrounded by peers that also love to travel! Suman, THANK YOU!!

This week, we’re on to our next adventure.  How many times in life have you had the AH-HA moment when two different stories come full circle and the light bulb goes off?  I had one of those recently and it just so happened to include one of our newest members.

My parents love music. I swear they would go to nearly any concert just to hear live music. A few years ago, they did what every 50-something does on a week/work night and drive 2 hours from home to see Jimmy Buffet. (Sometimes I wonder if my parents are actually my parents!). The next day I call my mom to see how the concert was and she tells me it was “great” but the best story was about the hotel. See, they are 50-somethings and they get up really early, regardless of their bedtime. My mom begins telling me about how they realized after heading down for the hotel breakfast and noticing that the hotel was deserted, despite being sold out with concert go-ers that perhaps they were getting a little “old” for the Jimmy Buffet crowd because in fact, everyone was still sleeping off their hangovers or whatever they might be desperately seeking sleep after. As she’s telling this story she breezes over one tiny detail which is the start of my light bulb circuit – she tells me, “We always stay at the Best Western there by the university, but now it’s across the street! We had no idea! We thought we must be getting old, but it turns out they built a new one!”

A few weeks later and I’m talking to a potential member on the phone when she explains that we need to update our address because they recently moved and built a new Best Western across the street.

**LIGHT BULB**

I ask the potential member, “Are you near a venue where Jimmy Buffet plays?” “YES! First Niagra (KeyBank Pavilion)!” And here we are.  A few months later and I finally got to visit this new member, the Best Western Plus The Inn at Franciscan Square.  So come check out one of my parents’ favorite places to catch some shut eye after a concert at the fabulous KeyBank Pavilion. Like the brand Best Western itself, this property didn’t just get a face lift, it got an overhaul.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

When you enter the lobby, you suddenly don’t feel like you’re in Steubenville anymore. The property sits at the foot of Franciscan University of Steubenville and subtle hints of the University find its way into the design and decor.  One of my favorite pieces was this painting done by Ohio artist Dave Barnhouse.  Dave was born in Richmond, OH and has lived in small towns scattered across

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OHthe state. He is known for his paintings of “Rural America.” This particular painting is done on wood and depicts some of the highlights and landmarks of the University which sits on top of a hill just across the street from the property.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

When we stepped into the guestrooms, I was pleased to find they had taken on the trend towards sleek, simple designs, yet still found ways to incorporate the local flavor, with neat wooden nature dividers and in each room hung a photo from the campus.  Of all of the room photos I saw, I loved the one in the photo to the left – it’s of the old building sitting in the snow on a frosty, Ohio morning with the bright sun shining through the winter landscape. The guestrooms come in all shapes and sizes and include suites and connecting rooms!

What every hotel needs though, is a good gym and a fantastic pool and the Inn at Franciscan Square delivers. We know I’m a gym rat and even for a small property, they didn’t let the gym features fall short.  Next to the gym is an expansive indoor pool with comfortable furniture, showers and windows surrounding the pool deck. In addition to all of these amenities, the hotel has a great amount of meeting space for the area with hopes to expand in the future.

Great, new lodging in Eastern, OH

Personally, I don’t get to this side of the state too often. But next time your planning a trip to/from the Pittsburgh International Airport or you’re joining my parents at the next Jimmy Buffet concert (or any other event) at First Niagra/KeyBank Pavilion, look a little further down the road and you will be beyond pleased with what you find at the Best Western Plus The Inn at Franciscan Square.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Guest Blog: Summer on the Bay

I’m Suman and like Halle, I love to travel.  You might be wondering why you are hearing from me today!  Halle’s out discovering the world – where else?!  Luckily, she surrounds herself with others that enjoy travel and she asked if I would share with you an experience I had recently that she hasn’t had the chance to explore herself – Put-in-Bay, OH.  That’s right! While she’s on the shores of North Carolina, I’m going to tell you about my recent trip to the shores of Ohio.  This is my first time blogging – so bear with me… it might be a bumpy ride!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Put-In-Bay for a conference and I was asked to find accommodations on my own. However, I was not willing to spend a fortune on my accommodations, because the conference itself was quite pricey! When I was looking for an affordable option to spend my days at Put-In-Bay, I came across The Park Hotel. The location was perfect! Just around the corner from all my activities and conference center as well.

My first impression about the Park Hotel was a fascinating one. This was an old Victorian hotel, and the staff greeted me with a warm welcome. I knew at that moment, I made the right decision by selecting the Park Hotel for my stay. This was not my first time in Put-In-Bay. In fact, I have visited here twice before. However, it was my first time staying at the Park Hotel and I must admit, this was my best Put-in-Bay lodging experience.  The rooms were clean with fantastic air conditioning (a must have in mid-summer!). I don’t come from the lodging industry like Halle, so when I struck up a conversation with a staff member about the history of the hotel (built in the 1870s!), I inquired why they haven’t advertised on Hotels.com etc. where so many other hotels list themselves. He said they preferred word-of-mouth business and liked individual guest service where they could explain the setup and amenities of the hotel one-on-one. Even though the hotel had shared bathrooms, it was just fine for me, because I’m a person who is used to backpacking and staying in all kinds of unique lodging.

The property was a great mix of quaint charm and middle-of-it-all convenience. This hotel made me feel like I was secluded in a small-town hotel in the middle of a huge party town. On the other hand, being so close to downtown Put-In-Bay, I got the opportunity to walk to almost all the happening places in the area.

The hotel was located close to my favorite place to get a drink called Mojito Bay Tiki Bar.  Nearby are other great restaurants such as T&J’s Smokehouse. It offers some of the best dishes to the people in Put-In-Bay and has the fun bull riding place (pictured above!). He is one tough bull to ride! Better yet, the hotel was in close proximity to The Boardwalk, a restaurant serving up “fresh & traditional seafood” and where I got the opportunity to taste my favorite food, Lobster Bisque.

Another great stop to include on your next trip to Put-in-Bay is Beer Barrel Saloon, claiming to have the world’s largest bar! Like Halle, I love to dance and Beer Barrel was the place to do that.

I had fun dancing the night away to the live music! With all of these great places to spend an evening, I found myself very thankful to have a hotel within walking distance.  It made for a much easier, carefree night and isn’t that what you want when visiting Put-in-Bay?

Believe it or not, it’s not all about the party.  And, quite logically, The Park Hotel sits alongside Derivera Park, a great place to enjoy a walk and the lake breeze. The Park also connects to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial – a beautiful site honoring those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The memorial represents peace among Great Britain, Canada and the US. Just on the other side of the park, you can conveniently catch a ferry or rent a golf cart.

All in all, I’d say my trip to The Park Hotel & Put-in-Bay were a success!  Next time, I’ll have to return for Pirate/Pyrate Fest Weekend, one of the biggest island-wide parties. You’ll notice in my pictures the staff at the Park Hotel were preparing for the weekend with immaculate pirate decorations.  I enjoyed my entire stay at The Park Hotel and highly recommend it to any person who is planning to visit Put-In-Bay. I could not have asked for a better value with an excellent location.  It is definitely a hidden gem!

Grand in Granville

I hate missing birthdays. Birthdays, mine or someone else’s, are my favorite.  I think it’s great giving someone a day to just celebrate them.  At least in my industry, it’s all about helping others, so every now and then, you just need a day to celebrate you!  So, just imagine how I felt when I realized, I missed the birthday of one of Greater Columbus’ fabulous historic inns by two days on my visit.  {{{BIG SIGHS}}}

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

The Granville Inn was built in 1924, it’s grand opening on June 26th of that year.  Just 93 years and 2 DAYS later… I arrived at its doorstep. Gosh, I hope you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “yes! I love the Granville Inn!” because you have in fact been there and it didn’t take you 93 years to discover it.  But alas, I’m sure that isn’t the case for everyone.  See, I didn’t know much of Granville until my friend Jena, a graduate of Granville’s Denison University, told me of her fantastic college town. Granville is quaint, to the say the least. Dominated on the hill by Denison University, the main drag is packed with little shops and restaurants. Beautiful, picturesque landscaping and sitting areas line the streets. It’s really no surprise that the Granville Inn isn’t the only boutique lodging property to be found near the town square.  Granville is home to several unique lodging options, like the Buxton Inn, Orchard House B&B (check out my post!) and the Welsh Hills Inn – many of which are on my bucket list to explore.

Like the Granville Inn, many of the properties have history.  But this one in particular was once the home of The Granville Female College, what was considered to be the oldest school for women’s education in Ohio.  What I love about the Granville Inn is that if you’re like me and you appreciate the modern touches and amenities, you can enjoy those luxuries and still take a trip through history by walking the halls. The walls are lined with well curated photos from the original school and also Denison University and there’s a cabinet housing original china from the first years of the Inn’s operation.

The Inn has had many owners, but locals and guests alike will tell you that the game changer was when Denison University purchased the Inn in 2013, setting the groundwork for a much needed $9 million renovation.  The renovation included the face lift of existing rooms, but also the addition of 9 more which involved quite literally raising the roof and moving original slate roofing.

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

Stepping into the lobby is like taking a step back in time. The lobby fireplace greets you like a friendly face or a bear hug, even on a summer’s day. One of my favorite new places at the Inn is the patio.  As a Columbus resident, I couldn’t help but start comparing their patio to what’s available in Columbus. My conclusion? There isn’t one.

The sleeping rooms are to die for.  The soft colors and sunlight streaming in during the day makes for a restful or romantic place to spend an evening. Some of the new rooms include exposed

brick, over-sized bathrooms and small seating areas.

Unique accommodations in central Ohio, Columbus area

If one day you find yourself looking for a last minute getaway or an escape from the city, or hey! maybe you’re checking out Denison University, do yourself a favor and stay a night at The Granville Inn. If you plan ahead, they have great special events open to the public, like their Ladies’ Night, Murder Mystery Dinners or Movie Nights. Like golfing?  They recently acquired the management of the Denison Golf Course, so close you can literally walk there. I’m also told if you’re there in the summer on a Saturday morning, the Granville Farmer’s Market is a must-do! Happy travels…

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Around Ohio in 365 days!

It is July. What does that mean?  I’ve finally hit one year of blogging since we originally “set sail.”  It’s amazing how fast a year goes and in that year, how many times I’ve awkwardly had to agree to people’s comments that I “get around,” because in fact, I do!  I have been so fortunate to discover so many amazing lodging accommodations in my wonderful state.  To kick off another year of adventuring through my backyard, I want to recap all of the awesome places you need to add to your bucket list when exploring Ohio.  Where do you want to head next?

Ready? Set! Go!

21C Museum Hotel

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Avalon Inn & Resort

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

Bayberry House B&B

The Blackwell Hotel & Pfahl Conference Center

Buckeye Fans Unite @ this Luxury Lodging in the Heart of Columbus

The Cincinnatian Hotel

The Cincinnatian Hotel is an historic, boutique hotel in the heart of Cincinnati

Cobblestone Hotel & Suites Orrville

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

Fairfield Inn & Suites Cleveland Beachwood

Harrison House B&B

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

Hilton Netherland Plaza

Cincinnati Lodging couldn't get much more unique!

Holiday Inn Canton

New Lodging around Ohio

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dayton Mall/I-675

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

Home2 Suite by Hilton Independence

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Hyatt Place Lyndurst/Legacy Village

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade

Great lodging in Downtown Cleveland

Kalahari Waterpark & Resort

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

The Kimpton Schofield Hotel

Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center at the University of Cincinnati

Excellent lodging in Cincinnati

Landoll’s Mohican Castle

An Ohio castle getaway - perfect for a staycation or romantic weekend away!

Mill Pond Acre B&B

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

The Mills Park Hotel

Discovering Ohio - Lodging in Greater Dayton

Orchard House B&B 

Ever dreamed of a fairytale wedding? Check out this off the beaten path Ohio wedding venue!

Residence Inn by Marriott Cleveland/Avon at the Emerald Event Center

Awesome, Extended Stay Lodging in Greater Cleveland

Residence Inn by Marriott Wheeling – St. Clairsville

Extended Stay Lodging in Eastern Ohio

Sawmill Creek Resort & Conference Center

Great unique lodging on Lake Erie shores - Huron, Sandusky area

Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa

Unique Ohio Lodging @ Sebring Mansion & Spa

St. Paul Hotel Wooster

Great urban Ohio getaways lead us to the St. Paul Hotel in downtown Wooster!

The Timberlanes Inn (coming soon!)

New Lodging around Ohio

Victorian Village Guesthouse

Looking for an Urban Ohio Oasis? Check out these unique lodging properties!

Vineyard Woods

The Wallhouse Hotel Walnut Creek

A Visit to Ohio Amish Country can have an Upscale Lodging Twist at The Wallhouse Hotel

The Westin Columbus

Visit this Columbus Landmark, an Historic Hotel of America

Here’s to another year of discovery. After all, OHIOFind it here.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Sophisticated Charm on the (Ohio) Edge

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

Sophistication & Charm @ The Avalon Inn & Resort – Warren, OH

It was a bright and sunny June day.  The temperature was perfect.  The sky blue with fluffy white wisps floating across the sun. If I wasn’t going to be sitting poolside, there’s only one other way I’d like to spend a day as picturesque as that, and that’s exploring a beautiful resort.  And even better? A resort in Ohio. On this gorgeous spring day, I found myself walking the grounds of the recently renovated Avalon Inn & Resort in Warren, OH.

As I entered the lobby, I found myself wondering – how did I not know this was here?  I’m in the rust belt and you would never know it. The pin-tucked, tight back chairs and sofa were striking against the marble floor and grand fireplace (not exactly what I was expecting and a pleasant surprise!). As I waited for my tour guide, I was baffled at just how many golfers were wondering around the lobby on this Friday morning, bustling between the gift shop, patio and guestrooms. My guide swept me through the crowd to start our tour outside. The Avalon Inn & Resort is a country club and an inn. Guests of the inn are permitted to use all (and I mean, all) of the amenities club members have access to. The list is extensive.  The resort includes access to three golf courses – Avalon Lakes, Avalon at Buhl Park and Squaw Creek.

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

In addition to golf, the resort offers amenities for guests of all ages, golfers and non-golfers alike. We stepped into the new recreation room – a cool, den space that includes a large TV, bar and arcade games.  Sometimes when I think of an arcade room at a resort, I picture a brightly lit room with old games and a stark, white wall/floor/ceiling combo. Not here. When the weather might turn too cool for outdoor activities, this would be an excellent place to cozy up for a movie, huddle around a table to play cards or just relax. Connected to the Rec Room are the indoor tennis courts, my personal favorite. These were in fact some of the nicest indoor courts I’ve seen! On the opposite side of the resort, if the weather isn’t quite to your liking, you can find simulated golf set up theater style where guests can order food and drinks and sit back and watch the fun.

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

I know, I know. How could you fit all of these amenities into your stay? Obviously, you’ll need to visit for the weekend, because I’m not done yet!  The Avalon Inn boasts a beautiful indoor pool with huge sliding doors to open it up in the summer.  Soon to come will be an outdoor pool and Roman Bath. But “weight”, there’s more! You know I’d have to mention the gym, didn’t you?!  This isn’t any old gym. The fitness facilities at the Avalon Inn are expansive, including more cardio and weight equipment than I’ve ever seen at any lodging facility and includes group fitness rooms and a spinning room.  In addition, there is a spa at this facility, with multiple massage rooms.

We continued our tour indoor where I was informed major changes had taken place.  The rooms at the Avalon Inn & Resort are some of the classiest rooms I’ve seen.  New furniture and wall coverings make these a step up and an example of truly unique lodging in Ohio. I’m a huge fan of the new trend to use textured wall paper – I couldn’t get enough.  The Presidential Suite at the Avalon Inn is also nothing short of spectacular. The picture doesn’t even begin to do this room justice.  The walls are lined with what almost looks like pyrite (fool’s gold).  If you look closely, you can see the sparkle!

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

It’s hard to imagine all of this could be packed into this little corner of Northeastern Ohio.  Sure to keep guests content throughout the day, The Avalon Inn has a full service bar, wine cellar and Gatsby’s, its fine dining restaurant, proudly serving up what guests are calling a “new, amazing experience,” complete with a welcome Prosecco.

Don’t worry, readers, I’ve made this easy for you.  You can make a reservation to stay, here.

Upscale lodging, resort in Eastern Ohio

 

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

 

Unique Lodging in the Ohio Valley

I’ve been routinely traveling to the Ohio Valley since early 2012. “That’s specific!” you might think. It is, but there is a good reason. My sweet husband is from the Ohio Valley, specifically Moundsville, West Virginia (yes, where there is an Indian burial mound in the center of town, conveniently right next to the now-closed penitentiary).  How confusing is that?  This is how people must feel when they arrive at the Cincinnati airport and see Kentucky license plates on the taxis.  Quick geography lesson – The Ohio [RIVER] Valley is roughly made up of most of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, but also includes the SW corner of Pennsylvania, the NW corner or panhandle of West Virginia. I don’t know a lot of Columbus residents who consider themselves to live in the Ohio Valley, which is why I think it’s important to note that socially (not geographically) most people referring to the Ohio Valley mean that junction of eastern Ohio that runs along Pennsylvania and West Virginia or in technical terms the Upper Ohio Valley. Now that we all know where our adventure takes us today, let’s focus in on the remarkable work that owner Scott Dressel is doing in a town nestled very closely to the border of both WV and PA – Steubenville, OH.

I found Scott on a very warm Friday afternoon, awaiting my arrival. He had given me very specific instructions to meet him at 813 N 4th and we can “start there.”  Little did I know, Scott and his son have been restoring old Victorian homes (and much more, including the town theater) in Steubenville for years. For most B&B owners, operating the inn is their full time job.  For Scott, I sense that was an after thought.  Scott is here to restore beauty in some of the old homes that line the North Fourth Street Historic District.

Scott greets me on the massive front porch of the Westfall House, one of two of the beautiful homes that houses Scott’s B&B – Bayberry House B&B. This house has one of my favorite rooms, Myrtle & Ivy’s Room. I don’t know if it’s the colors or the placement of the window and the fireplace, but this room transports me to a palace I feel like I’ve only read about in historic fiction books.

We moved next door to the Garrett House.  This house, just a few doors down from the Westfall House really puts Scott’s restoration skills on display. The sitting area is absolutely draw-dropping.  The wood and meticulous detail is something you quite literally “just don’t see any more.”  One wall is lined with a handsome bookcase housing all kinds of interesting books, trinkets and antiques. My favorite part of this room, was the conversation… sofa? chairs?  I’m not sure exactly what you call it, but I’ve never seen anything like it! I asked Scott what he had to do to restore it and he said that he found it just the way it is! Amazing!

One of my favorite parts of the Garrett House was the kitchen. A different vibe from the rest of the house, the kitchen looks like it came straight out of a home design catalog, except the difference here? It’s authentic.  Scott told me that the crew working on the kitchen found the original hearth hidden behind a wall.  The discovery was a bit of a surprise, but Scott used it to his advantage, transforming the kitchen into a masonry-meets-wood, work of art.

I know that Steubenville isn’t on the main drag or somewhere you find yourself in many times a year, but Scott just might have me convinced it’s worth a special drive. He has convinced others.  He has regular guests that come to visit him often, traveling from across the country.  He even had a guest bring him an antique item to add to the inn because she felt it was “just what he needed.” . After stopping at Scott’s, I ventured down Rt. 7 to St. Clairsville. I was sharing with the front desk team my visit to Scott’s property and a woman there said, “isn’t what he’s doing amazing? He has restored so many places in the Steubenville community!” A friend of ours living in Columbus, but from Weirton, WV commented upon hearing of my visit, “the historic district of Steubenville is beautiful. I hear there’s a guy there that restores some of the old houses.”  For the small town of Steubenville, Scott is creating quite a reputation for it’s old Victorian homes. Next time you’re headed to the Ohio Valley or the Pittsburgh International Airport  stop by and stay a while – I guarantee you will be just as amazed as me.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

 

Have you Heard?

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

New Hotel, New to Ohio @ Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Orrville

There’s a new kid on the block, literally. The first hotel in the city of Orrville, OH and the first hotel of this new brand in the state.  How cool! For some of us in the “big city,” it’s hard to imagine a town without a hotel. The mayor of Orrville, Dave Handwerk, announced to the crowd on the day of the grand opening that this hotel was the first to be constructed in Orrville in 97 years. Can you imagine?

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

I want to take this opportunity to feature a story written by a former OHLA intern and recently graduate of The Ohio State University, Megan Coddington.  Megan wrote this story leading up to the opening of the property, but since, I’ve been able to gather pictures to introduce the new brand to fellow travelers, hoteliers and other industry professionals. So let’s take a look at Ohio’s first Cobblestone Hotel & Suites.

Orrville is a small town in Ohio, located about 30 miles from Akron. With a population of about 8,500, the town is not ideal for big branded hotels to settle down in. Orrville is home of the J.M. Smucker Company and other local businesses that bring in their fair share of visitors that need a place to stay. The closest motels and hotels are 20 minutes away in Wooster.

Enter Cobblestone Hotel & Suites, an upscale, mid-size hotel brand that broke ground on a facility in Orrville in June 2015 — it’s the very first to be located in Ohio. 

Cobblestone Hotel & Suites is no stranger to the Midwest having already opened about 60 hotels in the region. This exciting new addition to Ohio will bring “Big City Quality” while keeping

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

New Hotel, New to Ohio @ Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Orrville

“Small Town Values.” It offers the same amenities that travelers would expect when staying in big-brand hotels, but meets the needs of small towns that are not near major highways. The average room size is 40 rooms and the hotels offer each guest well-appointed public spaces and guestrooms with attentive, friendly service from our hotel teams. Guests are offered free high-speed Internet, complimentary hot breakfast, convenience stores, fitness centers, business centers and on-site beer and wine bars.

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

New Hotel, New to Ohio @ Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Orrville

The company takes pride in being a family-run business and that doing things the right way is “part of their DNA.” Orrville’s community response has been nothing but positive.  Everyone is ready to welcome the new brand to their town. 

“Business-wise I think it will be great for companies to be able to set visitors up in a very nice facility, only minutes away. It should be a great positive for our local industries,” said Orrville Mayor Dave Handwerk.  Not only will this be a positive for local business but also leisure visitors traveling to Orrville for weddings, family reunions, the newly added Heartland Rail Trailand other events that Orrville has to offer throughout the year.

Other local industries are eager to embrace the anticipated addition to their small town. The President and CEO of the Aultman Orrville Hospital, Marchelle Suppan, explains how the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites will provide a convenient location for hospital recruits and short-term staffing assignees. Suppan not only hopes to be able to utilize the hotel for meetings , but she also hopes to sponsor hospital-related events there.

Orrville isn’t the first city to have their hotel needs met by Cobblestone. Salem, Indiana welcomed the first Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in the state in the fall of 2014. Salem is an hour from Louisville, Kentucky, with a population of about 6,300 and with needs similar to Orrville’s– a convenient quality hotel.

Consistent with its values and quality of service, Cobblestone prides itself in hiring locally and using local products when possible.

Cobblestone Hotel & Suites officially opened in March with a Grand Opening on May 5, 2017.  The completed hotel offers 54 guest rooms, 8 of which are extended stay rooms with kitchenettes.  True to its word, Cobblestone has incorporated many local  products into its hotel.  They offer Smucker’s Jelly products, Smucker’s maple syrup, Smucker’s Uncrustables® and Smith Dairy milk – all produced in Orrville. The bar includes local wines and Great Lakes Brewing Company beer.

Next time you’re traveling through some of America’s great small towns, check and see if a Cobblestone is available. You won’t be disappointed!

TIP: If you were one of the lucky few to receive one of these blue coins during the opening, use it to receive 100 rewards points to your Cobblestone Rewards!

New lodging option in small town Ohio, close to Akron, Wooster

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck