What’s not to love about a beautiful hotel that not only boasts an outstanding location on a Lake Erie island but also a gregarious Goldendoodle mascot named Wesson?
At Kelleys Island Venture Resort, Wesson often greets arriving guests, and I think his tail-wagging welcome is one of the many visitor-friendly ways that the family who owns and operates the hotel – Ray and Michaela Bouman and daughter Lindsay Bouman Seitz – capture Kelleys Island’s famously laid-back atmosphere.
While Kelleys covers about four-square-miles and is Lake Erie’s largest American island, it has relatively little commercial development. When the Boumans opened Kelleys Island Venture Resort in 2008, it was the first hotel constructed on the “Emerald Isle” in modern times. They designed it to be architecturally compatible with the island’s many numerous Victorian-era buildings, but also included amenities such as a hot tub, playground, and swimming pool that make the resort ideal for multi-generation vacations.
Since the property sits along Lakeshore Drive, the Boumans also created a unique three-tiered deck overlooking Lake Erie. “The views from the deck are perfection,” says Lindsay. “You can see the Marblehead Peninsula and even the fireworks at Cedar Point.” The deck is outfitted with tables and grills for picnics as well as Adirondack chairs where I like to laze away an afternoon watching the gulls and waves.
In addition to providing guests with bicycles for exploring the island, the resort also has parking for those who transport their automobiles on the Kelleys Island Ferry.
“We actually recommend that people bring their vehicles if they are staying for a number of days,” says Lindsay.
While the enormous Glacial Grooves that ancient ice sheets carved into the island’s bedrock is an iconic Kelleys attraction, the island also boasts a craft brewery, a winery, and a downtown area with indie shops and restaurants.
At Kelleys Island State Park, the hiking trails and sandy swimming beach also are very popular, but when I stay at the resort, my favorite activity is taking an evening stroll on West Lakeshore Drive to behold one of Ohio’s natural wonders: Lake Erie’s splendid sunsets.
Tip: mild temperatures, changing colors, and gorgeous sunsets make fall a phenomenal time to visit Kelleys Island, and every October, the resort makes the most of the season by hosting a Murder Mystery Weekend that turns the entire island into a Clue-like gameboard.
For more travel inspiration, Find It Here on Ohio.org.