By Nina Polien Light
“It was our first getaway as a married couple,” Jim says of the 50-acre property, which was built in 1995 in New Plymouth, a Hocking Hills community southeast of Columbus. “We were both working quite a few hours, and I was travelling for work and going to law school. That there was no Internet or cell phone service gave us a chance to really get away.”
When the couple was looking to buy a business several years ago and learned Ravenwood was for sale, they were intrigued. “The next thing you know, we owned it,” Jim says.
In two years, the Reeds — who have no background in hospitality and entertainment — have transformed the property from a standard bed-and-breakfast to a corporate retreat, convention, and “experiential” destination. Trip Advisor awarded Ravenwood its 2013 Certificate of Excellence and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association named it the 2013 Bed and Breakfast of the Year. Not bad for a place run by a CPA and attorney (Jim) and a realtor (Pam).
It may seem counterintuitive, but the “disconnect” from everyday life that first enamored the Reeds with Ravenwood is what makes it an ideal venue for corporate team-building events, Jim says.
“I’ve been on a corporate retreat or five in my day, and what we can provide blows away what I’ve seen anywhere else because of our focus and location. Usually at these things, phones and emails are constantly going off. To have a more secluded retreat focusing on the goals of the organization is really valuable.”
After morning training on conflict management or other soft skills, retreat participants engage in a Murder Mystery that is custom written for their company and ties in with that morning’s topic. Several meeting rooms and an event hall located throughout the property are available for conferences, networking, and meals. (Internet access is provided if critical, but Jim discourages it.)
Overnight lodging is available in seven guest rooms in the main castle, seven cottages in the Medieval Village adjacent to the castle, and five cabins in the more secluded and newly renovated Huntsman Hollow. Two wagon-shaped wooden cabins, called gypsy wagons, are available from May through October.
Experiential entertainment, which means the Reeds provide an experience along with the venue, includes a board gaming convention each summer and an annual convention for the charity Child’s Play. Ravenwood Castle boasts more than 150 board games and employs two game instructors. They also hold beer tastings. Any experience open to the general public can be tailored for a corporate event.
“I planned our wedding, and I know their stress level,” Pam says. “This is a special day and there’s a lot of money involved. Understanding that works to my benefit.”
The Reeds, who live in Hudson with their two daughters, travel to Ravenwood about twice a month. Onsite, they rely on an innkeeper and experienced employees who worked for the former proprietors. That allows the couple to concentrate on growing the business.
“We’ve been able to do a lot of things we were too uninformed to know we weren’t supposed to do,” Jim says.”
For more information: ravenwoodcastle.com