Enon natives opening 64-acre retreat, event space

The couple, who met at Young’s Dairy, also run venue in downtown Columbus

The COVID-19 pandemic changed much about our world. Now that the worst is behind us, people are beginning to gather in large groups, and weddings and conferences are returning. And, it turns out, holding events, gatherings and even weddings outside, something that surged in popularity over the past year due to safety concerns, remains desirable. It is estimated that one out of every four weddings are now taking place outside of traditional churches or religious venues.

Outdoor venues offer people opportunities to immerse themselves in nature and they also provide diverse backdrops for many different events. Carl and Liz Seiley, both Enon natives now living in Columbus, have announced the opening of their latest business venture — a 64-acre destination retreat and venue just outside of Dublin.

“Liz and I started dating officially in 2010, though we met while working at Young’s Dairy during college in 2002,” Carl said. “That’s where we developed our shared passion for hospitality and events and working with people.”

The couple married and their first venture together was creating a nonprofit organization called FLIP (Fight, Live, Inspire, Prevent), which is devoted to cancer prevention through lifestyle.

“I lost my mother to esophageal cancer in 2010,” Carl said. “We created FLIP while I was still doing sales and marketing consulting and Liz was in a sales career.”

While working on expanding FLIP, the couple decided to look around for a business opportunity and stumbled across a space in downtown Columbus they thought would make a great event venue. They started researching other local venues and eventually opened their first business venture — Vue Columbus — in 2013.

“We hosted our first event shortly after we opened the building,” Carl said. “We had an old warehouse that we renovated ourselves.”

Since that time, Vue Columbus has grown significantly each year until 2020, when the pandemic restrictions caused the event industry to come to a standstill. But rather than sit idle during that time, the couple chose to continue planning for a second, much larger venue – Retreat 21, which would offer overnight accommodations in modern cabins, state of the art meeting and event facilities and even an onsite winery and cidery.

“From the beginning, Liz and I have shared a passion for the outdoors,” Carl said. “We wanted to create a unique experience for other people who also love being out in nature.”

The concept for Retreat 21, which Carl said will be unlike any other venue in central Ohio, came after the couple toured various venues across the country. During the shutdown, they refined the plan and started looking for locations.

“It was hard to do during the shutdown because we had no idea how tough the year would be on our business,” Carl said. “We knew planning a second venue felt like the right move, but as time went on, we were also trying to figure out how to bring our employees back and recover from all the debt we incurred during COVID.”

The location they chose for Retreat 21 includes rolling hills, meadows, farmland and heavily wooded areas. Besides the indoor spaces, the venue will feature garden patios, a natural swimming pool, hot tubs, adventure courses and access to the 18-hole golf course — Rolling Meadows Gold Club — adjacent to the property.

“We decided to add cabins back in the woods, so people have an option to stay overnight,” Carl said. “We are also growing a vineyard and orchard and eventually we will be able to make wine and cider from our own fruit.”

The decision to add the winery came after the couple decided they wanted something that would be open to the general public in addition to anyone attending private events. The goal is to attract people from urban locations, like downtown Columbus, and invite them to relax for an evening away from the city.

Now that weddings and large events have returned, interest in Retreat 21, which had its groundbreaking last month, is growing. The venue will be available to host its first events sometime in 2022.

“The ’21′ in our name is a nod to a modern retreat for the 21st century,” said Liz. “It’s serendipitous that we also happen to be launching in the year 2021, reflecting a new chapter in all our lives.”

For more information, visit retreat21.com.

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.

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