By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Feb 2, 2021
Cherry Valley Hotel outside of Newark just completed nearly $20 million of renovations, converting it from a waterpark and training center and updating it into a full-scale event spaced (dubbed the Ohio Event Center) and boutique hotel with multiple dine-in options, a pool, an arboretum, and a soon-to-open full-service spa.
My family and I got to visit Cherry Valley for a weekend, to experience the hotel's amenities, get a small tour of the facility, and attend a cooking demonstration by Chef Mynor Estrada. Cherry Valley has put in place all necessary cleaning practices and precautions, so a little staycation there is a safe and fun escape during the chillier winter months.
The hotel itself features about 200 rooms, all recently renovated, in a modern but rustic style. Our suite included plenty of space to relax, do some reading, play board games we packed, and enjoy meals – from the hotel and from nearby businesses – that we brought back to the room.
Our first order of business – especially from our boys' perspective – was getting into the pool. Cherry Valley's pool and hot tub feature a giant, floor-to-ceiling glass wall that looks out into arboretum. In nicer days, you can lounge on the patio just outside the doors, too.
The hotel itself includes a lot of little spaces for quiet relaxation, often with gas fireplaces blazing in a corner. It just makes you want to grab a book and curl up for a spell. The lobby itself features vaulted ceilings, a big chandelier, and not one, but two fireplaces – one is gas-powered, and one offers the welcoming smell of a wood fire.
Right outside the lobby, enclosed by one of the main buildings, is a giant wooded courtyard, which Cherry Valley actually calls an arboretum. It features a pond with waterfalls in the center, plenty of trees, a gazebo, and a huge terrace connected to the lobby and their main restaurant.
There's a gravel walking trail all around the arboretum, and the interior rooms feature tiny patios looking over it. And a gas firepit to one side; on our second evening there we brought a s'mores kit, wrapped ourselves in coats and blankets, then roasted marshmallows over the fire.
Cherry Valley features four different dining options. For breakfast each morning we stopped by the Granville Pantry, a small breakfast nook with snacks and drinks. It's open all day, but in the mornings they have yogurt, fruit, baked goods, and breakfast sandwiches and burritos. There’s full coffee service, too, so we enjoyed mochas and cappuccinos to go with our meal.
The Lobby Bar is a casual hangout with TVs, beer and cocktails, and a pub-like menu of fish and chips, burgers, fries, wings. We didn't visit this time around, but the newer O&E Taphouse, closer to the Ohio Event Center, features light pub snacks, wines, cocktails, beers, and a solid whiskey selection.
Their main dining room, the Craftsmen Kitchen & Terrace, will re-open in March. We got a little sneak peek when Chef Mynor Astrada did a cooking demo for us. He whipped up shrimp bisque, baked asparagus with prosciutto and gruyere in puff pastry, caprese salad, and bacon-wrapped filets with shrimp and mashed potatoes. They rounded off the night with a cocktail made with Four Roses bourbon and chocolate-covered strawberries. (Hint: dinners like this will be featured around Valentine's Day.)
One of the nice things about Cherry Valley is its proximity to parks, restaurants, museums all throughout Licking County. The hotel is equidistant between Newark and Granville, and is right off the highway, which gives you easy access to the surrounding area.
A few of things we (safely) explored nearby:
- Hiking Spring Valley Nature Preserve in Granville. The nature preserve offers a variety of trails that crisscross the ravines. We tried a ridge trail that gave us some beautiful elevated views, plus a lower-level path taking us along Salt Run Creek.
- Carryout from The Pub on Broadway in downtown Granville. Located in an historic building on Granville's main strip, The Pub on Broadway features terrifically done tavern fare, like spinach dip, wings, burgers, reuben sandwiches, and wraps. I look forward – in non-COVID-times – to grabbing a seat at the bar and working my way through their beer list.
- A stop at Trek Brewing's taproom. The family-owned Trek Brewing has a huge space and patio, allowing for easy social distancing.
- Touring The Works museum and science center in Newark. You can still explore their exhibitions, participate in some of their hands-on activities, see shows in the planetarium, tour the vintage interurban car, and watch demonstrations at the working glass studio.
- Explore the Dawes Arboretum by car or on foot. The nearly 2000-acre park features a handy route for touring by car, plus multiple paths leading you through the curated natural features, from trees and bushes to creeks and a small lake. Be sure to climb the observation tower to see the giant hedges spelling out the arboretum’s name.
Cherry Valley is nicely done, all modernized while still feeling comfortable and approachable, like a lodge in the woods. It was a fun weekend as a family, and I can imagine – especially once the new spa is open – that it would be a lovely romantic getaway. While the weather is still chilly out, the hotel – plus the activities in and around it – makes for a fun and safe staycation!
Disclaimer: this visit was hosted by Cherry Valley Hotel and Explore Licking County. Photos and opinions are our own.
NOTE: Check directly with places before you go to learn about their health guidelines, hours and any restrictions or reservations required. And stay up to date on all health mandates and safety precautions. Learn more about the guidelines surrounding COVID-19.