Hi gang! Last month Scott and I were asked if we would like to attend a blogger getaway at The Inn and Spa at Cedar falls in August. The Inn is located in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio which is south of Columbus. Hocking Hills is an incredible area of woods and countryside. There are loads of parks, hiking trails, and water activities. Lots of cabins to rent for an amazing retreat. The fact that Hocking Hills is only an hour south of Columbus makes it a perfect destination for vacationing.
Because Scott and I are country folk at heart and love being in the woods, Hocking Hills is an ideal area for us. Close enough to home that we aren’t traveling for hours/days yet once there, it’s very private and relaxing. Since we love Hocking Hills, we jumped at the chance to be able to attend a small retreat.
Originally, we were just going to go down for the day and not stay overnight because we were unable to bring Rocky with us. However, a few days before we were to leave, we were told that we could bring Rocky, no problem. Hooray!
I got our itinerary a couple of days beforehand so I was able to plan out our trip. We were going to be busy, busy! Scott and I were super excited for the trip. A small vacation in the middle of the week made for a wonderful break. We had not been to Hocking Hills in quite sometime and both of us were happy to have the chance to visit again. We would be staying at The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls to review the accommodations and to meet with the owners, Ellen and her husband, Terry. Our stay was courtesy of the Inn owners and our only out-of-pocket expenses were gas, tips, and a bottle of wine that we purchased.
This post is very long! So grab a drink, get comfy, and let’s chat about the trip! Details after the jump.
We left Wednesday afternoon around lunchtime and ate lunch in the car while soaking in the scenic drive down to the Inn. The Inn is not hard to find at all and is very easy to get to. Our spa appointment was scheduled for 3:30 and I was told that we could check-in to the cabin by 2pm. We arrived just after 2:30 in the afternoon. Nancy was manning the front desk and responsible for getting me checked in. Everything ran smoothly and she was able to find the bloggers itinerary so that she could give me a little bit more detail about the upcoming events. More specifically letting me know where I needed to be and where each place was located.
I got directions to our cabin, which was The Strong Wolf cabin. The Inn has two pet friendly areas, Strong Wolf Cabin, and one of the smaller cottages.
I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but the driveway up to the cabin was very steep! I was afraid our little hobbit car wasn’t going to make it. We had to drop gears and just take the path very slowly but we were able to make it! Had it been winter though, our car would not have made it up that driveway. Perhaps a small blurb on the website about the steep driveway so guests can take precautions would be beneficial.
Once up the drive and around a corner, we arrived at our little cabin in the woods.
The cabin had two sections, a main floor area and a loft area.
The green binder was about all things green! How you can choose to live a greener life and everyday things that help the environment. Along with information about the Inn and how they try to run as green as they can. What a great touch! I really like knowing that places care about the area they live in and what efforts they put forth to try and preserve the space.
The journal was for guests to document their stay. We would have added an entry but the journal was full!
Upstairs was a loft area that had a queen size bed along with bathroom facilities. A two person whirlpool tub, toilet, and sink. With the bathroom facilities out in the bed area, it makes things a little less cozy and private feeling. It’s not something that really concerns Scott and I, so we were cool with the set up. Just putting it out there in case potential guests prefer a separate bathroom area.
Off the kitchen downstairs was the door to the back deck.
It had a rocking chair, two adirondack chairs, and a nice little table area. There was a grill but that was located on the front porch.
The view from the back deck was stunning. Surrounded by woods and all you could hear were the sounds of running water and whispering trees. There was a ravine in the back breaking up the woodland floor and providing a nice texture to the scenery. Strong Wolf cabin is isolated on its own 30 acres of land. There is nothing and no one around which is absolutely perfect for us. When we get away, we like being by ourselves! And we specifically search out cabins that are alone and on a lot of land. This ensures we won’t have to run into anyone on our vacation and that we can take hikes with Rocky.
When we arrived at the cabin we had just enough time to take some pictures, set up Rocky’s crate, and change into comfy clothes. Then it was off to the spa for our couples massage!
The spa is located just a little ways down the road from the Inn gift shop and restaurant. And just a short distance from our cabin. The driveway up to the Inn is also a little steep. Not nearly like the driveway to the cabin, but it has a good incline to it.
The spa used to be a regular cabin on the Inn property that one could stay in. If I’m remembering right, it was converted into a spa in 2006. The spa offers many packages that will appeal to all types. Inside is very cozy and intimate feeling which is a direct result of the spa being in a cabin. Many times you visit spas or salons and even though those places are very clean and relaxing, they can also seem very sterile. The Spa at Cedar Falls has none of that. It is very welcoming and relaxing starting with your first step down that wooded path.
Scott and I enjoyed a couples massage with our therapists Randy and Nicole. Both were extremely nice and happy to answer all of our (mostly mine) questions. This was our first time having a professional massage and I have to say the experience was perfect. Thank you Nicole and Randy for a great time!
The spa is not just for Inn guests, anyone can book an appointment! They are perfect if you’re looking for a little retreat and escape from everyday activities. Or planning a girls day out, the spa would make for an ideal destination.
After our appointment we had to hurry back to the cabin to get ready for dinner!
We were to meet with the Inn’s Chef and also the Innkeepers. I was rushing around getting dressed and Scott who is never on time (ever) kept giving me up to minute time statuses. As if I was unaware of the situation. Silly boy! Dressed for a nice dinner out!
We arrived at the restaurant a little late but that was okay because the theme is that everything is relaxed and not rushed. Us being a few minutes late was not a big deal.
The front of the restaurant is a small bar area called Kindred Spirits. You can sit and sip while chatting with some of the Inn workers. Or you can chat with your dining companion. Or if you’re like me, you’ll chat with everybody!
That is part of the bar area and behind that is the Inn’s kitchen! It’s a small space but it gets the job done, which is serving people great food. I love the open concept of the kitchen. You can see exactly what’s going on! Which for me personally I love because it gives me a little glimpse of how meals are prepped and served. When kitchens are squirreled away behind closed doors, I sort of get curious as to what is actually happening with all the food!
When we walked in, Chef Anthony was giving out the details for the evening to the servers. I had never seen that before so it was interesting to sneak a peek.
There’s also another little bar counter and this is where we sat and chatted for a while. Kindred Spirits used to be the restaurant area when the Inn first opened. It was small and intimate, only being able to accommodate a few tables. Ellen Grinsfelder’s (current Innkeeper) mother was owner and operator of the Inn at that time and she made all the meals for the Inn as well. She had a vision to provide people with a nice place to stay and hot meals to fill their bellies. What an undertaking that would be! To start and run an Inn would be hard enough, but adding on meals as well is a very ambitious adventure!
While Scott was deciding on a drink, I sipped on some wine.
You don’t say?
And it is the main component of this drink:
The Island Breeze: containing vodka (that the pineapple was sitting in!), coconut rum, pineapple, and orange juice. Well Scott was all over that! There’s a mixed drink that I make him at home that is very similar to this and it happens to be his favorite. He was quite pleased to have this as an option.
Behold the Island Breeze! I had a small sip and whooo it was potent! But I’m not a mixed drink kind of gal so I’m not a good person to ask. Scott loved it and said it was very good and the pineapple was well soaked.
Chef Anthony came out for a few minutes and we were able to chat with him as well! He and his family moved from Long Island to the Hocking Hills area; that would be a huge environment change! He said he loves the area and being in the country is similar to where he grew up.
I was excited to talk with him about food! One of my newest passions is being aware of where the food I eat comes from. Since The Inn and Spa are located in farmland territory, I was curious to see how much of what is prepared is local. Chef Anthony explained that he tries very hard to get as many local ingredients as possible. Some things, obviously, are not local, like the fish for example. But he discussed the company he uses for that service and how fast and efficient they are in making sure he is able to receive fresh seafood. The Inn also grows a lot of their own herbs and had grown vegetables as well but local wildlife also liked the garden making the upkeep a little hard. The Chef is also working on securing a local dairy supplier for eggs, cheese, and milk. I was extremely pleased to hear that only local and fresh ingredients are used. The menu changes four times a year with the seasons in order to utilize what is fresh and currently in season.
During our talk with the Chef, Ellen came in for a chat! It was so nice to meet her and be able to talk with her before we were seated for dinner. She is a wonderfully nice person with a great personality. Her warmth shines through the minute you start talking with her. We chatted for a few minutes and then we were off for a quick tour of the immediate property.
Ellen’s husband, Terry, lead the tour! We first walked through the restaurant and Terry explained how it came to be and which areas were part of the original 1840’s log cabin. The log cabin is amazing and clearly quality-built! The dining room is situated in that cabin which provides a rustic and cozy feel. It’s also extremely romantic and a great spot for couples to dine!
Through the restaurant and into the newest additions, The Gathering Place.
The first half of The Gathering Place has big plush chairs surrounding a fireplace. There are also smaller chairs and tables around the room. Outside is a lovely porch with seating as well. The Gathering Place provides a nice relaxing retreat for visitors. One can also have access to the Inn’s wireless network in order to keep up-to-date with personal and business correspondence. Terry mentioned that they had a T1 line installed just for guests to be able to have online connections.
The second half of The Gathering Place is more of a meeting and board room type of set up. There’s a large flatscreen TV that people can use for presentations. The room can hold up to 45 people. The Gathering Place is able to be rented out for business meetings or other events and occasions. If you need a break during the business meeting, or are looking to release some stress, the Inn can also set up adventures for your group, like ATV trail rides, and kayaking. Ellen and Terry are very flexible and willing to work with the guest to make sure they have everything they need for their event. They can also cater your event if you need it. They can do buffets, boxed lunches, BBQs, whatever you need, just ask! They are more than willing to help you have the best event you can.
It also makes for a great place to have business meetings! With the T1 line, internet access is available and stable, making business meetings flow with ease. The countryside offers a nice change of pace and scenery as well!
Terry also explained how he tries to build the Inn’s buildings as green as possible. Terry is the one in charge of building and maintaining the Inn’s buildings. He has built and overseen all projects at the Inn. During the tour he told us about how he uses recycled and reclaimed building materials.
How rain barrels are incorporated to provide water for flushing the toilets. How newspaper is used for insulation and where some of the wood, flooring, and other materials came from. In a time when protecting the environment is a huge issue, it’s great to see how someone carefully constructs new buildings that have as minimal a footprint as possible.
After the meeting room tour, we headed outside. First there was a quick peak of the back patio.
The rooftop of the Gathering Place is Terry’s newest project. He would like to make seating and a small bar available on top. The view is incredible! All around seeing lush green grass, trees, and hills made for a fantastic backdrop. Once the rooftop deck is completed it will be an amazing place to sit and have a drink and to just breathe.
After the patio, we were on our way to the building that houses the Inn’s rooms.
There’s a firepit area with seating for guests. Terry mentioned that guests can start the fire on their own and how it provides a nice area for guests to mingle and chat with each other. People can bring up some wine and share stories around the fire.
Next to the firepit is the Inn’s Garden. It’s a beautiful open space with different landscaping all around the area. Seating is also available for those that want to relax and maybe enjoy a morning cup of coffee.
After the garden, we made our way over to the rooms! On the first floor of the building is The Common Room.
The building has rooms on two levels and there are two styles of rooms that guests can choose from. There’s the rustic style.
The second style of room has more of a modern feel to it.
We headed back down to the Inn and it was time for dinner! On our walk back, we passed what was once the old smokehouse and root cellar.
Do we not love this?! It is just way too cute! Terry mentioned that he would like to convert this into a wine cellar. Keeping the structure and rustic charm of the smokehouse, but updating the inside a bit to hold the restaurant’s wine selections.
Now it was time for dinner!
We dined with Ellen and Terry. Along with another local blogger, Lisa, The Restaurant Widow, and her husband Chris.
The Inn’s restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and everyone is welcome. Reservations are required though, which helps keep things small to preserve the intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
Dinner at the Inn is five courses. Wow, right! This was my first five course meal and I was pretty excited. First things first, a wine must be selected! I picked a red.
Lisa picked a white wine but I’m not sure what it was! I was chatting and then suddenly there was more wine in front of me. It was really good though, very crisp and refreshing.
There was also another red poured that I did not get a picture of because I was either too busy chowing down or talking. Terry recommended this wine which is from a local Ohio vineyard. Via Vecchia is the vineyard, located in Powell, OH. The wine was a red blend made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Frac. This wine was fantastic! Both Scott and I just loved it.
For those keeping count, that’s four glasses of wine for me! I am a lightweight and will tell you that in all honesty. Four glasses of wine are way too much for me so I had to make some sacrifices. The first glass of white I had was a huge pour and I drank all of it. At dinner, I drank the white that Lisa picked and I sipped on the red that Terry picked. I couldn’t do more than that and for me, even that was pushing it! Thankfully there was also a glass of water on the table for me to sip on. I would have liked more water but didn’t think about asking.
Moving back to food! There are five courses for dinner starting off with some light nibbles.
I took one of the larger flatbread crackers and put some cheese spread on it. I’m not a fan of olives so I didn’t try any of the tapenade but Scott did and he loved it. I think he even made a comment about him pretty much eating the whole container that was down at his end of the table!
Next course was soup!
I could have sworn that this was described to us as a vegetable soup so when it arrived I was surprised by the small amount of veggies. However, seeing some other bloggers talk about their retreats, it seems that this was a spaghetti squash soup. My favorite part of the soup actually wasn’t the soup at all but these.
The salad course was a small mixed greens salad with an endive spear and a roasted roma tomato. I love warm tomatoes so I was pretty excited to have that as part of the salad! The salad was lightly dressed with a house-made vinaigrette and the juice from the tomato also provided a nice flavor for the greens. I ate every bit of this salad! I know those of you familiar with me and my eats are not surprised.
For the main course, I chose the salmon dish.
The salmon was perfectly cooked, having a nice light and flaky texture. I had a few bites of the jasmine rice but I wasn’t feeling the starch that evening so I didn’t eat it all. What bites I did have were sweet and creamy. Naturally I ate all of the asparagus and wished there was more! Actually I would have loved more veggies and no rice but that’s because I’m a veg-head.
A small piece of perch and a roasted potato. I had not eaten perch before so it was a bit interesting to taste. The fish itself didn’t have much flavor but took flavors from the ailoi and the veggies that came with it. The potato was fabbo! But I love potatoes so I might be a bit biased on that.
After dinner, there was dessert! Oh my! This was already more than I normally eat so I automatically thought I would pass on dessert. Especially considering that sweets aren’t really my thing. But the options presented sounded so good and I needed something to help soak up all that wine, right? I went for it!
- Berry cobbler
- Butterscotch Creme Brulee
- Vanilla bean cheese cake
- Flourless dark chocolate torte
Give me chocolate! It was a toss up between the cheesecake and the torte, and dark chocolate won out over cream cheese which I thought might be too heavy for me.
Scott chose the creme brulee because that is his favorite dessert. I was surprised since he’s not a huge butterscotch fan.
Loved it! I could have easily eaten this as a dessert. The brulee was rich and creamy and easily one of the best I’ve tried. And that says a lot because as I mentioned, I don’t even like creme brulee! The butterscotch flavor was perfect! Two thumbs up from me!
Dinner was a fantastic experience because it gave us the chance to chat with Ellen and Terry more. We were able to learn about the Inn and what all they have done to make it all that it can be. And how they strive to keep Ellen’s mom’s vision alive. That was the highlight of our trip, being able to chat with the owners and see firsthand how passionate they are about what they do.
We capped off the evening and said our thank yous and goodbyes to everyone. I was a happy camper with a belly full of wine and food. Scott had to roll me out to the car!
We made our way back to the cabin and as we were walking to the front door, we spied a friend!
Hey there Mr. Toadie! Scott and I made our way into the cabin where I immediately started chugging as much water as I could. We also decided to hit the whirlpool tub for some soaking action. It took a while to fill the tub and we ran out of hot water! Doh! The water was just above the jets so we were still able to turn them on. It was nice to soak but the jets didn’t quite have enough pressure for me so I rinsed off and changed into my jammies.
We sat around and chatted about our day and evening and how thankful we were for being presented with such an amazing opportunity. Never in a million years did I think that my little blog would open up such a wonderful experience.
I crashed out in bed around 11pm because I was beat. Our huge day and the wine caught up with me and all I wanted was some sleep.
The Next Morning
We got up bright and early the next morning so we could pack up and head over to breakfast. The Inn provides breakfast for all guests and only guests. Lunch and dinner are available to the public. Breakfast is included in the price of your stay! And you can opt to have it or not, it’s totally up to you.
Ben, Ellen and Terry’s son, was our server for the morning! We of course asked for coffee and cream right away. He told us that there was fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola available in the restaurant area if we wanted any.
He also told us that the breakfast for that morning was scrambled eggs in a puff pastry with cheddar and two slices of bacon. I headed in to get yogurt and fruit.
- Red grapes
I ate everything but the grapefruit and honeydew as I don’t care for those. Scott happily ate what I did not.
Breakfast was served! Admittedly I have to say that I was a little bummed out with breakfast because it was too heavy of a breakfast for me. Most especially after a night full of wine and yummy food. I don’t eat bacon, so that got passed over to Scott right away. I had a few bites of the eggs but they had a lot of cheese on top so I gave up on those as well. I did not eat the puff pastry because that’s just too heavy for me. I will say that the bites of eggs I did have were fantastic. Very light and fluffy eggs!
I pushed my meal over to Scott and focused on the yogurt and fruit. As we were eating, I overheard another server explaining the breakfast to other guests and she mentioned they also had steelcut oats available as well.
At that same table, one of the guests ordered turkey bacon instead of pork bacon.
Oh Ben, you didn’t tell us we had choices available to us! :p Had I known there were oats available, I would have opted for that! When Ben came back to our table I asked him about the breakfast options. He said that there is a different breakfast everyday and that it usually alternates between savory and sweet. Or if people didn’t want that they could have oats, or they would do things like eggs however you wanted them, toast and so on. I wish I had known! Because I definitely would have picked something more my style for breakfast.
We sipped on more coffee and I went back in for some more fruit.
The second time around, I picked out my faves. When we finished up, I headed into where the kitchen was and asked for some more coffee to go. Armed with more coffee, we went back to the cabin to pick up Rocky and pack the car. Then it was time to check out!
I realize that this post is extremely long and if you’ve read this far I greatly appreciate it! Ellen and Terry were very welcoming and spent a great deal of time with us talking all about the Inn and sharing their vision with us. They took time out of their schedule to chat and have dinner with us and making us feel completely comfortable. It’s only fair that I return the favor by doing the best post that I can. Since we did so much and learned a great deal about the Inn, I had a lot to talk about!
The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls is a very serene place to be. If you’re looking for a retreat — for business, a romantic getaway, or perhaps a girls’ weekend — please consider this Inn. It has everything you need from food to massages, to internet access. Or you can choose to hole up in a cottage or cabin and not go anywhere else!
We stayed in a cabin which has a full kitchen and that means you can bring your own food to make. The cottages are one room (I think!) and do not have a full kitchen.
Ellen and Terry are awesome people who genuinely care about their guests and will work with you to make sure your stay is a enjoyable as possible.
Left to Right: Terry, Ellen, and Anthony
Thanks guys for having us stay with you and providing a chance for us to experience your hospitality and to meet new people!