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Pittsburgh hotels offer Valentine's Day getaways close to home

| Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, 8:57 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
From left, Chocolate and Coffee Braised Shortribs with a Pink Peppercorn cream, Cocoa and CHili Seared Salmon with Tomato Fondue and a Cocoa Roasted Baby Potatoes with Carrots, Sprouts, Carmelized Onions and Fresh Herbs are three of the items available in a tapas buffet for Valentine's Day at Habitat, the hotel's restaurant inside the Fairmont Pittsburgh downtown.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in one of the rooms with a view Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the Fairmont Pittsburgh.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Deserts, starting counterclockwise from the top back are Rasperry and Vanilla Macaroons, Sweet Admire Lemon and Lavender Cheescake, A Rasperry Birdsnest and a S'More Loven Tart made by Fairmont Pittsburgh pastry chef James Wroblewski Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the hotel's restaurant Habitat downtown.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Truffles handmade by Fairmont Pittsburgh pastry chef James Wroblewski Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the hotel's restaurant Habitat downtown.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
The master bedroom in the Presidential Suite Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
The master bedroom in the Presidential Suite Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
The master bedroom in the Presidential Suite Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016 at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown.
The restaurant Whitfield, named after the street the hotel is on as well as a shout out to Andrew Carnegie’s wife’s maiden name – Louise Whitfield Carnegie is located inside the newly opened Ace Hotel in East Liberty. It was formed in collaboration with Brent Young, a Pittsburgh native who lives in New York and is co-founder of Brooklyn’s acclaimed butchery The Meat Hook. Executive chef is Bethany Zozula and the pastry chef Casey Shively. There is seating for 120. Whitfield offers a world-class seasonal menu showcasing locally sourced, sustainable vegetables and proteins. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and weekend brunch. Complementing every meal is a finely curated selection of craft beers, wine and handcrafted cocktails.
Priory Hospitality Group
The sitting room at the Priory as a wood-burning fireplace.
Priory Hospitality Group
The Monks Bar at the Priory
Priory Hospitality Group
One of the rooms at the Priory Hotel on the North Side.

Discounted room rates, a dessert bar, champagne — and a dodgeball competition?

You and your honey bunny can relax and enjoy each other's company just minutes away from home this Valentine's Day.

“We imagine people will probably be out and about with the ones they love for Valentine's Day this year,” says Kelly Sawdon, partner and chief brand officer for Ace Hotel in East Liberty. “It's a long weekend, so hopefully Pittsburghers will seize the opportunity to celebrate a bit more than usual.”

Business is usually good when Valentine's Day falls on a weekend, says John E. Graf, president and CEO of Priory Hospitality Group, which includes the Priory Hotel, The Grand Hall and Priory Fine Pastries on the North Side. Many may extend their stay to Feb. 15 this year because of the Presidents Day holiday, he says.

“If Valentine's Day falls on Friday and Saturday, there is a definite uptick in local demand,” Graf says. “When Valentine's Day falls midweek, the demand for the getaway falters since it's unconnected to any particular weekend. It seems people are more inclined to just make an evening of it and stay at home.”

He says the Priory's historic nature makes guests feel like they are away and apart from their everyday lives.

“Our Victorian-era building has high tin ceilings and 6-foot-tall windows, and it offers an experience that's like stepping back in time,” Graf says. “We've also got a fantastic wood-burning fireplace in our sitting room, which is right next to our tiny Monks Bar. Our Valentine's couples can grab a couple of our specialty cocktails and cozy up next to a roaring fire. Add a little snow outside, and what more could you ask for?”

Valentine's Day is a way to celebrate the things and people you admire and an excuse to go out and do something special in your city, says Kelly Sawdon, Ace Hotel partner and chief brand officer for the East Liberty property.

“Pittsburgh has no shortage of cool things happening this year,” Sawdon says. “At Ace, we've got prix-fixe menus at Whitfield, both for Valentine's Day dinner and for brunch the morning after. And if you make a reservation at Whitfield, you can keep the love alive and get a room for a discounted rate.”

They are hosting Shot to the Heart — a series of grown-up dodgeball games in the newly opened gym. “Open to singles, couples and everything in between, players will throw down on classic games of dodgeball, plus variants like scatterball, protect the pin and ga-ga,” Sawdon says.

What makes Valentine's Day at a hotel special is that it gives couples the opportunity to truly escape their hectic daily schedules and to reconnect with each other on a much more intimate level, says Bob Page, director of sales and marketing at Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.

“They can totally focus on each other, away from the distractions of kids, chores or other family members,” Page says. “They also get to be ‘pampered' during the time they are here. They do not have to worry about preparing meals, and they can truly relax.”

Page says this Valentine's Day will be popular because it's on a Sunday.

“It provides couples with an opportunity to potentially make it a full weekend getaway,” Page says.

“There are so many romantic stories and connections that have been made here since opening, including stars of stage and screen,” he says. “Spending Valentine's Day with us this year is unique and special for couples as they can say they celebrated Valentine's Day in the hotel during our 100th year. We also have several packages that we will be offering that will fit any budget.”

Think of it as a “staycation,” says Jordan Bartels, general manager of Hotel Indigo Pittsburgh in East Liberty where, upon check-in, guests will receive chocolates and wine.

After they are settled, guests can relax in one of the hotel's guest rooms featuring plush bedding and oversized, spa-inspired showers or grab a signature cocktail at the bar. In the evening, guests can enjoy a three-course menu prepared by executive chef Jose Rodriguez.

“That's the perfect way to treat someone,” Bartels says. “Pittsburgh has so many unique things to discover, so we know our hotel draws several out-of-town guests, while local guests will enjoy the ‘staycation' aspect of rediscovering their hometown in an entirely new way.”

With this being the hotel's first Valentine's Day, Bartels says it's the perfect time to introduce locals to all the amenities.

Matthew Sterne, Fairmont Pittsburgh general manager, agrees with Bartels' “staycation” idea. There is something romantic about being located Downtown, Sterne says.

“It's a great way to celebrate,” Sterne says. “We have many guests who live right in the city and still enjoy ‘staycations' at the hotel. We often hear our local guests say they forget they're just a few miles from home when they stay with us. Simply checking in to a hotel and experiencing something out of your normal routine instantly creates that wonderful vacation feeling.”

Valentine's Day naturally lends itself to showcasing the hotel's pastry chef James Wroblewski and his delicious chocolates and desserts.

“We introduced the ‘Love Lounge' dessert buffet last year and are excited to expand upon that this year, as well as introduce new events like the ‘Chocolate Brunch.' ” Stern says. “Jazz at Andy's, our live music series, has also been a great Valentine's Day standard. We love seeing couples enjoying cocktails in the lobby, dancing and listening to talented musicians singing romantic songs.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7889 or

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