Meet Me in the Kimpton Living Room

What do we know about the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants brand? We know they are a part of the IHG family, are classified as Upper Upscale and are offering a distinct boutique experience for guests across the country. The first Kimpton in Ohio, The Schofield Hotel, opened its doors in Cleveland a few years ago and we have another coming to Cincinnati in early 2020!The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Kimpton’s brand focuses on being a home away from home and thrive by being personal and making connections. One of the warmest aspects is their lobby that they affectionately call their “living room”. It is SO cozy with comfy places to sit around a fireplace, bookshelves you’d see in your own home and a large community table.The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Upon check-in we were welcomed and invited to their evening wine tasting in the living room. We joined them for the tasting with our friends and enjoyed tastes of reds, whites and salty snacks. What a nice way to start our stay!

Our accommodations were so fun, and I loved the décor and set up of the room. We walked in to our king bedded room and were welcomed with a welcome amenity (Thank you to our friends at The Schofield! The amenity was personal, and I was excited to receive such a nice note along with it.)The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

Above the bed hung framed & matted pictures of different images all within the same color palette. Including matchbox cars, butterflies and planes. Gold pillows and light fixtures paired well with the yellow and orange hues found in the hanging art.

The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

The luxurious bathroom was my favorite part of our room. It ran long ways across our room behind the wall where the television sat. Two large vanities with a ton of counter space closed the ends to a dreamy walk-in shower in the middle. Gray and white marbling lined the floor and the walls. The Atelier Bloem body gel, shampoo and condition sat on a wooden table in the corner of the shower. This Mandarin & Citrus body care set smelled delightful!

We were sad that we only stayed for such a short amount of time, we didn’t want to leave. This hotel has certainly left an impression and will certainly be remembered for its living room and that amazing shower.

Until Next Time,

Lauren

The Kimpton Schofield - Cleveland

A Pop of Color at Aloft

My first visit to an Aloft branded property did not disappoint. The bright and vibrant colors made up for this dreary winter weather (at least for that day). The Aloft Westerville welcomed me into the lobby with pops of hot pink, bright orange and neon green.Aloft Westerville

This isn’t your standard run of the mill lobby, this is a space where you want to throw a party or catch up with friends (or the least fun of the options, get some work done). The circular front desk is a focal point boasting these colors along with a palm tree pattern and a starburst light fixture. During my tour, I found out that the Aloft brand actually changes out its color schemes and patterns throughout the year. I will have to visit often to see all of the decor options!

Scrolling news highlights and newspapers hung for your taking along the wall calls to your business side while the pool table and jumbo tic-tac-toe makes you say “Helloooo Weekend!”.Aloft Westerville

Stepping down a few steps to another level of the lobby offers a ton of comfortable and unique seating options including long benches, a large fireplace with extra-large pillows and funky chairs. All the seating is accented by throw pillows of the same color palette and patterns.Aloft Westerville

The outdoor courtyard had me reminiscing of the warm days of summer and I can only imagine how lively of a space this is. Live music is offered Thursday-Saturday evenings along with a full-service outdoor bar. Adjacent to the courtyard is the indoor pool framed with a vaulted wood ceiling and dangling surfboards. The Aloft “A” logo is tiled on the bottom for just a little extra edge.Aloft Westerville

The sleeping rooms are sleek and mild in comparison to the funky lobby. Clean cut and neutral is the story line here. My favorite detail is a lit bench that runs along the wall in the sleeping room. I love a room with extra space to put my baggage!

If you are looking for a little extra fun in your stay for business or play, choose Aloft!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Aloft Westerville

Aloft Westerville

V-Day Getaway

I <3 YOU, INNLOVERS! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am here to help. Trying to surprise your significant other? Or just trying to get away with your buddies to completely avoid the holiday? Allow me to introduce you to a few of our excellent Unique Lodging of Ohio (ULO) properties that will surely make the holiday special.

GlenLauren - Hocking HillsGlenlaurel Inn (Logan, Ohio) – Do you want to take in the Scottish Highlands? Well, you are in luck and you do not have to jump on an 8-hour flight. Visit Glenlaurel located in the Hocking Hills region to be swept off your feet by charm and seclusion. This peaceful retreat sits on a 140-acre estate featuring hiking, Scottish Links Golf and a Spa. Their dining room is also exceptional with traditional Scottish flair to please the pickiest of critics.

Sebring Mansion - Sebring, OHSebring Mansion Inn & Spa (Sebring, Ohio) – Built in 1900, Sebring Mansion, exhibits refined detail and craftsmanship that is hard to come by in the small town of Sebring. The architectural design and all building materials from brick to woodwork were purchased in Italy and directly shipped to Sebring. Can you imagine the timeline of construction in the 1900’s?

 

White Oak Inn - Danville, OhioWhite Oak Inn (Danville, Ohio) – From a cozy room inside main inn, a private guest or a luxury log cabin, White Oak Inn has something for you! Being nestled in Ohio’s Amish Country certainly has its perks with one being the enjoyment of handcrafted soaps, jellies and jams to farm-fresh produce and eggs. Savory and sweet dishes are prepared fresh and from scratch daily. I’d love to wake up to the smell of lemon pancakes, wouldn’t you?

Cedar Grove Lodging - Hocking HillsCedar Grove Lodging (Logan, Ohio) – Featuring six cabins and two lodges in the heart of Hocking Hills, this getaway will leave you wanting to throw your cell phone in the drawer and sink into the serenity and beauty of the region. Here you will enjoy amenities such as hot tubs, fire pits, gas grills and obviously breathtaking views of the scenic Hocking Valley! Go on… cozy up and enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Glenlaurel - Hocking Hills

Glenlaurel

Cedar Grove Lodging - Hocking Hills

Cedar Grove Lodging

 

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

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

Dual Properties, Oh My!

Across the brands and across the state we are seeing an increase in dual branded properties. Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Choice Hotels are some of the brands we are keeping an eye on as they expand in Ohio. As hoteliers, owners and management companies hone in on market trends, today’s society and the future traveler we have seen changes amongst the industry. Inclusive of the emergence of lifestyle brands and the phenomenon that is dual-branded properties.

The concept itself aims to encompass the needs of a market by providing different cost segments under one roof. By having two brands under one roof, the guest has an opportunity to experience the best of both brands while on the hotel’s side there is opportunity for savings in areas such as labor and back of house operations.

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

TownePlace & Springhill Suites by Marriott Easton
Opening October 2018

I had the privilege to participate in a hardhat tour of the soon-to-be open TownePlace Suites and Springhill Suites by Marriott at Easton. This dual concept is well underway with an opening date of mid-October and it is bound to impress. The design concept is fresh and bright and is carried seamlessly between the two hotels. (I am really hoping I can get a few names for the wall vinyl, wall art designs and light fixtures, they are awesome!) The common area and lobby are shared between the properties, which offers expanded options and outlets for all guests. Partnerships have been developed at the brand level with popular stores such as Springhill Suites with West Elm and TownePlace Suites with the Container Store. (See below for a few additional pics from my tour!)

 

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels Dual Concepts
Groundbreaking 2018

We have two dual concepts from Choice Hotels coming to Ohio offering two combinations. In Logan and scheduled to break ground this year, Sleep Inn & Mainstay Suites and a Comfort Suites & Mainstay Suites near Cincinnati, also looking at a 2018 groundbreaking. These properties will speak to the midscale segment and offer accommodations for extended stay and transient travelers alike.

 

Marriott Columbus University Area

Marriott and Residence Inn Columbus University Area
Opened August 2017

Celebrating their one-year anniversary this past August, this property was a first for Marriott International as it was the first time a full-service Marriott and an extended stay Residence Inn were featured as a dual property. Residence Inn guests enjoy all the wonderful amenities that come with the Residence Inn brand, but by being connected to a Marriott receive even more. Such as access to a full-service restaurant and lounge, extensive on-site event space and full culinary team behind the daily hot breakfast buffet and evening socials. What a combo!

A few others that are on their way & recently opened: Homewood Suites & Hampton Inn Cincinnati Downtown, Home2 & Tru by Hilton Grove City, Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites Toledo, the list goes on… Did you know OHLA publishes a New Construction Pipeline quarterly? It is available in the MyOHLA tab for members. Contact Lauren with questions!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

Additional pictures from my hardhat tour of TownePlace & Springhill Suites by Marriott …

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Springhill Suites & TownePlace Suites Easton - Columbus, OH

Almost Heaven – In Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsHocking Hills is about an hour from our home in Columbus, so this was the perfect way to getaway for a quick night.  We packed our bags and headed out.  Once you turn off the highway, cell phone coverage goes by the wayside. If you’re like me and you’re constantly hearing ding-ding-ding from your cell phone, the little ‘x’ above your reception bar is glorious. We USED A MAP to get to Conkle’s Hollow, a trail I haven’t been on before. There are two options – a paved out and back which takes you to a handful of waterfalls; or a rim trail that is a little bit more challenging.  We were running behind (too many tacos at Condado on the way out of town) so we opted for the shorter trail.  The shade and silence was so refreshing after leaving a busy morning of work behind and it was the perfect way to lay the groundwork for a fantastic trip.

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsEventually we made our way (with our map!!) to Cherry Ridge Retreat. The adults only retreat is located in New Plymouth, a few miles from Hocking Hills and a little off the beaten path.  The property prides itself in privacy and seclusion, each of its 9 cabins nestled into a perfect place in the woods.

Our cabin, Whispering Pines, came complete with a grill, fireplace, private pond, and hot tub, but my favorite characteristic was the massive picture window overlooking the forest.  I could have sat there all evening, but TJ was ready to explore.  Although the individual cabins are extremely private, there is a communal gazebo and lake meant for socializing with your “neighbors”.Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

We followed the trail from our cabin down to the lake, TJ totally prepared with his fishing pole!  The lake was amazing. For the fisherman, it is stocked with blue gill and bass and catch & release fishing is welcomed.  For the exhausted mom, sun soaked lounge chairs beckoned.Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking HillsIt’s easy to work up an appetite hiking in Hocking Hills.  Cherry Ridge Retreat has a list of great restaurants in the area, but I recommend bringing your own food and cooking up a wonderful meal.  You can dine inside at the bar or alfresco at the picnic table overlooking your private pond.  We took advantage of the Fire Package providing guests with all of the tools needed for a fantastic bonfire, and in my case, s’mores!

 

As summer is slowly fading to fall and Ohio’s foliage will be at its best, consider booking a night at Cherry Ridge Retreat.  You won’t regret immersing yourself in nature with some luxury amenities. Next time I visit, I want to see The Observatory CabinCherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

(Pro Tip: Stop by Kindred Spirits at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls for a fantastic breakfast on your way out of town!)The Inn at Cedar Falls - Hocking Hills

 

Here are a few extra pics to share from our cabin!

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Cherry Ridge Retreat - Hocking Hills

Stay a Little…

Coming from a background as a sales manager in an extended stay hotel, I have heard it all! “Aren’t those kinds of hotels a little outdated?” “I could never stay in a hotel that long.” “WAIT! I can bring my dog?” My answer, every time… “You’d be surprised what we can offer you!”.

Extended stay hotels have made a huge splash in the hotel pond over the past several years in this upscale segment of extended stay lodging, with brands like Residence Inn by Marriott, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hyatt House and Staybridge Suites by IHG.Staybridge Suites Polaris - Columbus, OH

I recently visited the Staybridge Suites by IGH at Polaris, located north of Columbus and celebrating their one-year anniversary! I was impressed by the design layout and overall concept. With similar amenities to its counterparts a few attributes stood out (aside from being able to see Ikea & Top Golf from their parking lot… Eek!).

Staybridge Suites Polaris - Columbus, OHFirst, you know the door hangers that say “Do Not Disturb”, “Pet in Room”, etc. that never seem to actually stay on the door handle? Staybridge has a fun way to get the message across by utilizing magnets that connect to the door frame of the room. To go with this twist, I loved the verbiage: “Taking my Sweet Time Today. Come back later.” and “Shhh… Sleeping Like a Baby. Do not Disturb.”

Second, there are storage rooms for guests to utilize! Perhaps the guest is staying for several months OR returning weekly for a night or two. The best part? This is a complimentary amenity for all guests AND if you have a group staying you can have multiple folks with access to said storage room. Now, that’s convenient.

Third, the pool and outdoor area. This property features a large indoor pool (may be one of the larger indoor pools I have seen!) and a beautiful open outdoor patio for guests to enjoy. Topped off with a fire pit and a covered grilling area with two grills.Staybridge Suites Polaris - Columbus, OH

There is a lot to be said about the Staybridge Suites brand and their efforts to make the guest truly feel at home. Through researching, I also found out that Staybridge Suites was one of the first chains to go to complimentary Wi-Fi as an amenity (what a thought!)!

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

 

P.S. I also loved these little to-go bags available at breakfast…

Staybridge Suites Polaris - Columbus, OH