Far removed from the rumble of passing delivery trucks, sirens, and the all-too-often horns of city traffic, I woke up under a canopy of lush green trees, the gentle sounds of chirping songbirds, and a constant pendulum of rustling leaves in the wind. Aside from the excitement of a post-breakfast hike in the surrounding Hocking Hills State Park, I totally could’ve snuggled for hours on end in the comfort of the plush king size bed within my stunning geodome at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. There was a time when camping meant roughing it in a tent or a basic cabin, and I can kind of see the appeal of such a rustic style of vacationing... but why rough it when there are so many options for glamping (aka glamorous camping)? Especially now that social distancing, remote work, and the occasional shutdown are all a part our new norm creating a stronger demand and inclination for us to reconnect with nature.
The beauty of the Hocking Hills State Park should be of no surprise for most, but I was impressed by the number of unique accommodation options available at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. A casual walk along the many densely tree-lined paths within the resort revealed the wide variety of accommodations offered, from the aesthetically rustic to uber luxury, inclusive of yurts, cabins, cottages, geodomes and even private lodges equipped with full kitchens for large family gatherings.
What to expect in a geodome?
Okay, I love nature, but with the intensity of my day job coupled with my unwavering work ethic, I strive to prioritize luxury as a bare minimum. I mean, who wouldn’t? And choosing to stay at an ultra-luxe geodome was the highlight of my experience in Hocking Hills! In all honesty, it was the sole reason why we chose Ohio as one of our destinations this summer. These geodomes are brand new additions to the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls accomodations, and believe me, they are booked and busy because of them. In no small part, there’s a little TikTok video that showcases one of these geodomes that went crazy viral... so there’s that. When we lucked out with an availability, we booked the next flight from NYC to check them out, experience them firsthand, and see if they were worth all the hype!
From the moment I first walked into our geodome, I was taken back by the transcendent opening, comprised of large and crystal clear triangular panels, overlooking an endless forest. I was completely enamored in the warmth of the foliage and overwhelmed by an unshakable sense of peace. It was just a sea of green and everything that I didn’t know I needed. The geodome was incredibly spacious, brilliantly designed with beautiful finishes in every corner, and it felt sooo much bigger than many apartments in NYC (you can see why some people live in them full time). Simply put, the entirety of our geodome – indoors and outdoors – was breathtaking.
One of our favorite moments was dining with a full on breakfast spread underneath the geodome’s expansive geometric fenestration, while completely engulfed in the sounds of nature and the seemingly evergreen surroundings. We were living our best “petit déjeuner en forêt” fantasy! New breakfast catchphrase for these geodomes? You’re welcome! An added bonus to our delight was the inclusion of daily breakfast as a part of our stay. We dined in the main lodge’s restaurant on our first day but as soon as we found out that breakfast could be delivered to our geodome for a fee or we could simply place our order and walk it over ourselves, we excitedly threw our hands in the air and took full advantage. This is most definitely our recommended way to go!
Another highlight was the geodome’s washroom! It’s like having your own personal spa in the middle of the woods. There’s a large glass-enclosed shower with the cutest pebble flooring, situated next to a beautiful moonstone-hued glass basin (each geodome’s washroom has a different color scheme based on the astrology of the resort owner‘s wife and children). The alluring wooden accents of the surrounding walls and floors immaculately tie it all together to give the washroom a spa oasis away from it all feel...and relax our worries away, we surely did!
These geodomes are the first in the United States to feature indoor plumbing, heating, AC, and electricity. On top of that, they are equipped with strong Wifi, so we could’ve stayed all caught up on our socials and even work remotely if we wanted to. Our goal was to disconnect and relax, so there was zero need. Temptation resisted!
The only minor downside is that the geodomes are not overly soundproofed. This has some great advantages, including the fact that you can hear the sounds of nature – especially when the AC is off. The disadvantage, however, is that normal volume conversation can easily be heard from the outside – and we were within walking distance to the next geodome.
Tip: There are only three geodomes and they book fast and months in advance, so early reservations are highly, like to the most extreme of the word highly, recommended.
Things to do during your stay
The geodomes are within walking distance from the main lodge, where we enjoyed a few spa services (facials and massages anyone?) and the Inn’s restaurant, Kindred Spirits.
Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park.
Beyond that, there are a lot of hiking trails, in Hocking Hills State Park, just a few minutes’ distance from the Inn. We were obsessed with Cedar Falls – the namesake of the Inn and Old Man's Cave – a deep gorge with dazzling streams and waterfalls. I highly recommend hiking after meals as the food from Kindred Spirits is amazing. And, trust me, even if you only opted for their Cave Side Salad with grilled chicken, you will be stuffed, so that’ll give you the perfect excuse to walk it off. If you do decide to go for a hike before meals, the resort offers packed picnic lunches that you can take with you and live out your dining al fresco dreams! Just be sure to take all of your trash out with you. A littering Lucy is not the tea!
The Hocking Hills Canopy tour is only a short drive from the resort and it has one of the only few "lie down face first" zip lines in the United States. We absolutely loved our Original Canopy Tour hosted by Anna and Adrian, be sure to ask for them! And let me tell you, it definitely lived up to their slogan - nature-lover meets thrill-seeker - as we zipped over the Hocking River, treetops, a cave, and a few rock cliffs, allowing us to see the beauty of Hocking Hills from a whole other perspective while feeding our adrenaline junkie needs.
Another must see is Jack Pine Studio, an LGBTQ- owned glass blowing studio. You can of course visit the studio to shop for unique pieces of hand-blown glass art, but we opted to take one of their glass blowing workshops where we created our very own glass pumpkin – what they are most known for. It was our first glass blowing experience and it was incredibly unique as we were immediately immersed in the thick of the studio’s heat, literally, shaping the 2000-degree glass into custom Pride-rainbow coloured (obviously!) and pink hombre-hued pumpkins. Remembering to constantly spin the rod to maintain equilibrium within the molten glass is actually harder than it looks! The best part was that Jack Pine, the studio owner, came over to greet us and share a bit of his personal story, which made us feel sooo welcomed!
So here’s the catch...the town of Logan is close by with more restaurant options if you want to eat outside of the resort. Although the resort and geodomes are only about 20 minutes from Logan, there is sadly a huge contrast in how we felt in terms of being welcomed. The Inn is definitely LGBTQ+ friendly, and the entire staff was nothing but hospitable, warm, and open-hearted throughout our entire stay. Logan, on the other hand, is very conservative, bold in their expression of white supremacy, and a different vibe all together.
But don’t let that discourage you from taking what can be a trip of a lifetime. Hocking Hills and the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls are a dream come true for nature enthusiasts – especially the ones who also happen to love luxury.
Barry Hoy is a Canadian transplanted in New York City, and a travel, food and lifestyle writer who showcases great destinations, local experiences, and all of the must see (#bucketlist) places around the world. He is always on the road or up in the air – if he’s not travelling, he’s most likely already planning his next trip. Follow along his adventures via Instagram @asianmapleleaf or on his travel blog at asianmapleleaf.com