Friday, November 16, 2007

Hocking Hills still experiencing a building boom

There's been an explosion southeast of Columbus. The once-hidden secrets of Ohio's Hocking Hills are rapidly being discovered by business and leisure travelers from all over the state, but primarily by those from Central Ohio.

The trend has sparked a flood of people who once were visitors but are now buying property to open inns, lodges and conference facilities. Many are former Columbus residents who at one time held corporate positions, but have decided to chuck it all and head for a quieter life in the Hocking Hills. They are realizing their dream of operating their own business amid the peaceful beauty of the Appalachian foothills.

The result is the emergence of a wealth of new conference and business retreat options that cater to organizations and businesses in Central Ohio. More than two dozen new lodging and meeting facilities opened in the Hocking Hills in the last three years.

In addition, 73 percent of all existing properties have dramatically expanded their facilities and amenities. While executives won't find a 25-story hotel with an attached multilevel parking garage, unique sites for meetings and retreats have become a regional specialty. Close proximity to Columbus is helping drive new growth in this cottage industry.

Hickory Grove Cabins had just built a new 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom cabin on an 8 acres wooded lot with its own private pond in Hocking Hills,

the cabin has a $3500.00, "state of the art" water treatment system installed. Inside the cabin has a kitchen with all stainless still appliances, even a dishwasher, refrigerator with threw the door filtered water, three bedrooms all with pillow top queen size beds. You can view their cabins at

Creative environment

The area's unique geology and breathtaking scenery is particularly conducive to sparking creativity and helping groups to escape from the confines of the office. The region is especially popular with groups seeking to host smaller board meetings and executive strategy sessions. Meetings can include an unlikely break such as a woodland hike, a canoe trip or a trek on horseback.

Many corporate event planners are now selecting the region when developing events that serve as an incentive or thank you for clients or staff. The recent addition of new executive amenities and larger facilities now opens up meeting and conference facilities that were previously unavailable in the Hocking Hills.

Ash Cave Cabins opened its conference center in 1994. Award-winning executive chef John Dassman recently joined the staff to direct catering and food service for the facility that can serve up to 50 people. A large outdoor patio, gazebo, pond and gardens offer additional space for al fresco meetings and business lunches or dinners. On-site lodging is available in deluxe cabins and large vacation homes.

Meeting facilities that include a full kitchen, indoor space for 130 people and a massive outdoor patio surrounded by more than 1,200 acres of forests, hills and trails are available at Camp Akita. Rustic bunk-style lodging and cabins give overnight meetings and events a camp-like feel.

A state-of-the-art ropes course and a private lake with boats and swimming offer additional options for team-building and corporate training.

Located on more than 70 acres of private wooded land, Crockett's Run features a large lodge facility that seats up to 150 people. Luxury home-like lodges and cabins that have from one to five bedrooms offer space for smaller gatherings, as well as accommodations.

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