From the pictures above, you might think this was a classic Aspen resort, or perhaps an old-luxury Boca Raton hotel. It features a combined indoor/outdoor pool that is heated and open year-round, thematically festooned conference space, and the exquisitely decorated lobby you see here. It may shock you to learn that this is not only a Holiday Inn, but one tucked away in a small town you?ve probably never heard of.
You?d be forgiven for never having heard of Perrysburg, Ohio. In fact, the IHG website lists this property first as ?Holiday Inn ? Toledo South?, then adds ?Perrysburg? as if it were a mumbled footnote. Yet, here, one of the nicest hotels in the chain has flourished for more than a half century.
Art pieces abound in the beautifully-decorated lobby
There were once more than a hundred Holidomes, but now you can count them on one hand. This was the last in Ohio, and it?s hard for me to believe it?s scheduled for demolition. It?s one of the finest examples of a Holiday Inn and the erstwhile Holidome ? and it?s about to meet the unforgiving axe of progress.
Throughout my childhood in this area, the French Quarter was known to be the best hotel in the area. One might not typically think of holding weddings at a Holiday Inn, but after a look through these pictures, you?ll likely understand why many locals do just that. It?s not for a lack of other scenic areas, either ? Perrysburg has several beautiful areas, both natural and artificial.
This lighthouse near Levis Commons is one example of the photogenic areas in Perrysburg that could be considered for weddings.
In fact, this property has had such longevity that in the 90s, another Holiday Inn opened across the street?then was rebranded to a Holiday Inn Express, and eventually entirely transitioned from IHG to the Choice Hotels chain ? all while the original stood proudly.
This hotel is classic luxury and local history melded into a beautiful synthesis. Wood paneling abounds along with plenty of artwork and local history like the ?Wooden Indian? (which was the longtime namesake of the locally-famous restaurant that lives inside ? complete with a famous dish, it?s ?Betty Salad?).
This door is one of my favorite elements in the whole hotel.I?m not sure if the Wooden Indian is more intimidating when he?s silhouetted or bright?I?ll let you decide.
More experienced readers, or those with a longer memory, may also recognize this and be nostalgic for the days of the Holidome.
For those who may need a little brushing up on travel history, the Holidome was actually a rather ingenious concept introduced by Holiday Inn in the 1970s. Its history actually dates back another decade or two to the formation and growth of Holiday Inns.
These days, pools may seem like a standard feature at many hotels, but Holiday Inn was the first major chain to make it a feature at every one of their hotels ? and that was during the heyday of swimming in the 50s and 60s, when schools and communities across the country were adding pools and swimming to their curricula.
An early example of a Holidome. Interestingly, the French Quarter was also along I75. Picture from NKYviews.
Holiday Inns in wintery climates, however, could only use their flagship feature a few months of the year. In a spark of genius, Holiday Inn saw an opportunity to retrofit existing properties and introduce new ones that would have year-round indoor pools. These pools formed the cornerstone of large indoor atria, which would also feature things like table games (like ping pong, pool, and foosball), restaurants and bars, mini-golf, shuffleboard, and arcade games. This played on the chain?s earlier success branding themselves with pools; it was a perfect environment for families and a differentiating feature.
Swim under the windows to get outside!
Even beyond a regular Holidome, though, Perrysburg?s had some unique features:
- Perrysburg has an indoor-outdoor combination pool (very rare for the harsh winters of the Midwest).
- Many Holidomes had either plain or big-box-store-like unfinished ceilings. Perrysburg?s is finished, including decorative woodwork.
- People often complained that Holidomes smelled like chlorine, but Perrysburg?s does not.
On the left: the ?warehouse?-style construction typical of cheaper Holidomes (picture from TripAdvisor); on the right: Perrysburg?s wood-and-stone approach.
The French Quarter went a step above other Holidomes. It is the embodiment of nostalgia and class. It is a family destination, but one the adults can appreciate as well as the kids.
In many ways, these Holidomes were the predecessor to the indoor waterparks that have been extremely successful in the 2000s. In fact, in 2005, Holiday Inn tried to revamp this concept and turn their Holidomes into more water park like environments.
In the 14 years since, the style of the Holiday Inn brand has grown and changed, and many of the former Holidomes were ultimately destroyed. I could only find 4 more locations that are still branded as Holiday Inn properties, along with a lucky few that were saved by converting to other hotel chains.
It?s unfortunately no surprise that with so few Holidomes remaining, most references to them have been removed, like the hotels themselves. It seems the Holidome brand and concept will soon be forgotten. There are still remainders you can find if you know what you?re looking for ? a mention here and there in the descriptions of various hotels, a wristband required to swim in the pool, the odd abandoned page on Holiday Inn?s website. But, it?s telling that on the IHG webpage for ?water parks and Holidomes?, clicking through it only shows the waterpark hotels ? no mention of Perrysburg or the other four remaining Holidomes.
Even if IHG is no longer interested in this history, it is clear that the legacy lives on in the local community. Over on the French Quarter?s Facebook page, you?ll find many memories from locals from first dates to weddings to golden anniversaries. It?s fair to say that this location was not just a hotel, but a piece of the local fabric.
The lounge on the executive floor is really something else?nostalgic high-class for sure.
There is a silver lining, which is that you can still visit for a couple of weeks until the final day of March 31. In fact, rates are surprisingly affordable ? just 15,000 points for a night, or $120 for a suite. If you need more IHG points, apply for the IHG Premier Card ? you can get 80,000. Make sure to sign up for IHG Rewards Club and any available promotions, too; IHG frequently runs promos to earn more points.
Hotels that are off the beaten path rarely get the historical attention of landmarks in the big cities. I?m sad to see these well-kept examples of an iconic era of American hotels put out to pasture. But, like any goodbye, it will always be bittersweet ? a reminder of good times and memories that will last.
We?ll miss you, Holiday Inn French Quarter Toledo-South PerrysburgGotta love the railroad-themed ?Depot? conference center.And the greenery all around (yes, those are real)This picture was too good not to feature. The ?Red Phone?, ornate woodwork, and mail drop are the perfect elements of a classic front desk.