If you spend any time at the Renaissance Hotel Downtown Toledo, you will learn one thing very quickly— this hotel LOVES Toledo. From locally-sourced ingredients on the Brim House menu to all the artwork by community artists decorating the walls, their work as Toledo cheerleaders seems to know no bounds. Recently, the Renaissance hosted the Global Day of Discovery, a special event to showcase some of their favorite Toledo-centric people, places and things. While the event was mostly free and open to the public, the hotel invited us, along with other social media personalities, media representatives and “influencers” from all over the Midwest and beyond, to enjoy an exclusive, two-day tour de Toledo.
We found ourselves in a suite packed with Renaissance reps, influencers from Columbus and Louisville, and media folks from Toledo, all of us putting on our VIP lanyards and sipping sweet virgin cocktails garnished with fresh blackberries. Simply getting to enjoy the view from the suite’s bedroom window and explore the space was a treat. It took us a beat to break away from our familiar groups and get to know each other, but we all eventually settled in and began talking about the rest of the night’s plans. What I enjoyed most about participating in the Global Day of Discovery was that— as a transplant myself— it gave me an opportunity to talk up our city to people who aren’t so familiar with what Toledo has to offer.
All of us made our way down to the lobby, which had been transformed into an art market with a fashion runway, snacks (like donuts from Holey Toledough), cocktails, and science experiments by Imagination Station. We sipped passion fruit bubble tea from Balance and played a giant game of Connect Four and putt-putt golf before heading to The Heights for some of Brim House Chef Aaron Lawson’s gourmet tapas. It was a breezy, warm evening out on the balcony, and the servers kept the artisanal cocktails coming. We filled up on fresh shucked oysters, seared scallops, sugar-cured lamb chops, and other delicious treats before calling it a night and leaving the rest of the guests to take a HandleBar Toledo pedal-powered ride to Toledo Spirits, where everyone made their own herb-infused gin.
This was just the first phase of the Global Day(s) of Discovery, so we had to pace ourselves. The next morning began with a breakfast of hot smoked salmon toast at Brim House before our crew left for a private tour of the Toledo Museum of Art. With so many out-of-towners among us, it was gratifying to show off our incredible (and free) museum that one guest called “a gem” as they got to experience exhibits like “Everything is Rhythm”: Midcentury Art and Music. TMA Leadership Fellow Alyssa Greenburg led us through the galleries, pointing out hidden elements in various pieces, inviting us to make interpretations of our own, and telling first-time guests about all the free events and educational opportunities at TMA.
After a satisfying lunch at the Museum Cafe— I recommend the tropical shrimp salad and smoked carrot soup— we went to the Glass Pavilion for the final portion of this two-day event: we would design our own gin-and-tonic glasses to be sandblasted by the experts on staff there. They had stickers, tape, stencils…basically everything we needed to complete the project (to be picked up at the hotel when completed).
Saying goodbye to the visitors on the bus back to the Renaissance, I headed back to work feeling lucky that I got to experience the Global Day of Discovery with people from so many different areas of our region. As I mentioned, I’m not from Toledo— I moved here from Louisiana just over a year ago— but I felt proud to participate in an event that highlighted some of our best features, and it made me feel at home when I was able to give my own recommendations based on what I’ve discovered during my time here. The event was certainly a celebration of what we have to offer.