We were fortunate enough to be approached by the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls to take part in a Blogger Getaway at their facility this past weekend – essentially to be a guest of the inn and take part in events (spa treatment, overnight stay, meals and cocktails, etc) that would allow us to experience what they have to offer firsthand, and to hopefully write about it when I got home. So, in the interest of full disclosure, although our only expenses out of pocket were the transportation to get down to the Hocking Hills area and gratuities, this does not affect my final review. This was something we have been contemplating doing for a while anyway – their generosity just made it come to fruition sooner rather than later. And the timing couldn’t be much better. I was in definite need for a day or two of relaxation to decompress and ramp down the stress level.
Since my coverage of the trip will be both picture and text intensive, I’ve decided to put it under a cut so that if it’s something that doesn’t interest you, you can keep scrolling. But I’d love for you to experience the weekend though my eyes, albeit vicariously. If you’re ready, let us begin…
We’ve been meaning to get down to the Hocking Hills area for ages now – it’s only about 90 minutes away from Columbus, and it’s like a whole other world. As you watch the Columbus skyline fade into the distance, you can forget about the day to day minutiae back home. And almost as soon as you pass the Hocking County line, cell phone coverage gets spotty, so it’s an added layer of isolation.
The last outpost of civilization comes in downtown Logan, which boasts a half dozen or so fast food joints, and a couple of questionable stand alone restaurants (I say questionable because their Yelp reviews were scary). We passed. So after another half hour of winding through the hilly and curving back roads leading up to the Inn, we finally arrived there around 2:30pm, about a half hour before we were told to arrive. There had been some confusion when I was firming up the final itinerary via email, because I had been sent an agenda for Wednesday instead of Friday, but I had thought that had all been resolved, with the agenda she was sending me supposedly being the same for Friday. However, when we got there, confusion all around, with them wondering why I was so late since my spa appointment was for 2:30, and me wondering why I’d have a spa appointment set for a half hour before I was supposed to arrive for check in. So we had to rush right over to the spa, which stressed us out a bit – not a great way to start a spa service. By the time we got back in our car, got over to the spa, and got onto the table, it was nearly 2:55, which cut our massage time down by half since our service was scheduled for 2:30-3:20 and they had to stay on schedule.
About the spa service – for both Paul and I, this was the first time we’ve had a massage. Being plus-sized, I was feeling a bit body conscious, but I needn’t have been. My massage therapist, Eloise, definitely put me at ease, and by the time my massage was done, I was feeling very relaxed and carrying much less tension in my neck and shoulders than I have for ages. It did wonders for my back pain. And with the couples massage, it was a nice experience to share with Paul. His experience was similar to mine.
Afterward, we checked in, and found out that we would be staying in one of the cottages. While we were a little disappointed that there wasn’t in-room internet access as we thought, we were psyched about the increased amount of space and privacy.
The cottages are quite rustic and homey, and quite charming, actually. Romantic and remote enough that it would be an ideal honeymoon or anniversary spot.
But the remoteness is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because the lack of technology (no televisions, no internet, no radios, no phones) means that us technology-addicted folk go through withdrawals. But a blessing because you actually have to take the time to know your significant all over again, without the distractions that technology brings to our lives.
This involves a lot of curling up in comfy chairs with a book, or playing board games, or just enjoying each others company romantically. Not a bad trade-off, if you ask me.
And we loved the big jacuzzi tub, big enough for 2 people.
If you want to be outside with nature, you can always sit on the back porch.
Paul took a real shine to the porch swing.
After we got settled in, we headed over to the Common Room, which is one of the places on Inn grounds that you can pick up Wifi access (other areas include the meeting room, restaurant, and the patios and porches outside. We got comfy in big high-backed chairs, and checked our email and the like.
As you can see, there’s plenty of space in there for Inn guests to set up and relax.
Aren’t those floors gorgeous? If I’m remembering correctly, I think Terry (one of the innkeepers) said they were made from recycled oak pallets. They tried to encompass green principles into buildings wherever possible.
We met up with the other bloggers and their guests and innkeepers Ellen and Terry in the bar area, and started our tour of the grounds with a cocktail or glass of wine or beer. On the night that we went, the bloggers were Bethia of Hungry Woolf, Jim of CMH Gourmand, Walker and Anne of Columbus Underground, Jill of Itinerant Foodies, and a local beer blogger whose name escapes me at the moment.
Innkeeper Ellen took us on a walking tour of the buildings and grounds, showing us around and giving us little tidbits of history as we viewed the different sights.
As you can see, the grounds are laid out and landscaped beautifully. Unfortunately, in this pic you can’t see the hammocks or the cabin the spa is in, but both are just as peaceful. This is a view of the back of the inn, which encompasses the restaurant, common area and the new meeting room addition.
The gardens were once used for growing food that was used in the restaurant, but a losing battle with the woodland creatures made them to decide to turn it into an herb garden. You can see the rooftop deck in the distance, which they plan to turn into a garden.
There isn’t a single detail that is overlooked. Even this shed is landscaped in such a way that it looks like it belongs there.
In addition to being an inn, the Inn at Cedar Falls is also a restaurant that is open to the public as well as those staying there. Inside are cozy tables that are set in a way that makes you feel right at home. In case you want to visit, make sure to call for reservations first.
As a group, though, we made the decision to dine outside on the patio. We were split between two tables, with Walker, Anne, Terry, and Becky (the chef’s wife) as our tablemates. The company and conversation at dinner was great, and made it enjoyable.
Chef Anthony Schulz is in charge of the kitchen at the Inn, and takes pride in making everything from scratch and cooking seasonally with fresh and often local ingredients.
You all know that for me, it’s all about the food. We started dinner with cocktails. I chose the Island Breeze martini, a mix of pineapple juice, vodka, and coconut rum. It was quite refreshing in the heat and humidity of the evening.
Paul, who usually doesn’t drink cocktails (he’s more of a beer person) surprised me by ordering the Chef’s Wife martini, which is a concoction of vodka, Chambord, and Chocolate liqueur and I don’t remember what else. Surprisingly, it was not sweet at all, but definitely smooth.
Dinners at the Inn are fairly all-inclusive, meaning that you order your entree, but that entree also includes several other courses, as you will soon see.
Each table starts out with a basket of various crackers and crostini, along with a serving of their Wisconsin Cheese Ball and an Olive Tapenade. The cheese ball went well with the crackers, and surprisingly, I loved the tapenade. This is unusual because I’m not a fan of olives, but their tapenade struck a nice balance of flavor and the olive flavor wasn’t too in your face.
Warm, freshly baked bread was served with butter in the shape of roses.
The soup of the day was a Spaghetti Squash soup, which had a great depth of flavor and was very light.
I really enjoyed the salad, which was dressed perfectly. The roasted Roma tomato was a nice touch, and really made the salad.
I went with the Peking Duck for my entree, which while flavorful and juicy, was a bit more well done than I prefer my duck. However, this was an error on my part, for not specifying how I wanted it cooked. The peaches were a bit underripe, but it didn’t really detract from an otherwise stellar dish.
Paul’s Half Rack of Lamb was prepared perfectly, just the way he asked for them. My favorite part of his dish was the balsamic glaze that was drizzled over the chops.
We all lingered over dinner, so by the time we got to dessert, it was pretty dark. Excuse the quality of the pics that I took in low level light. I can assure you it was much prettier in person.
I chose a Blueberry Creme Brulee, which was absolutely awesome – nice crunch on the caramelized sugar, creamy custard, and lots of blueberries that just popped with flavor. This dessert was definitely a winner.
Paul was just as enamored with his Flourless Chocolate Torte.
We spent the next couple of hours after dinner around a roaring fire, sharing bottles of wine and beer, stories, and laughs. It was great to get to know the others on a more casual level.
After a peaceful night’s sleep, we headed back over to the restaurant for a hearty breakfast, which is included in the price of your accommodation. Every morning, they lay out a table with fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and milk to get you started.
We took our bowls of granola, fruit and yogurt outside to start the morning on the patio, where we saw hummingbirds flying about, along with tons of other birds we rarely see in the city.
Breakfast at the Inn is quite hearty, and this morning it was a large piece of a baked egg casserole, some bacon, and a raspberry orange muffin. A great way to start the morning, and left us nourished and ready to start our adventures for the day.
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Ellen and Terry and the rest of the staff at the Inn, we had a wonderful time. So much so that we hope to return in the future and make new memories and traditions. Just the one night getaway renewed my spirit, my marriage, and my need to get away from it all. Hocking Hills really isn’t that far from Columbus, but it’s like you’ve stepped into a place back in time, one where your pace slows down, and you can get back to the business of enjoying the simpler things.
If you’d like to go: The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, 21190 State Route 374, Logan, OH 43138. 1-800-653-2557 or 740-385-7489