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One way to beat the heat is to go beyond Metro Detroit to a part of the state where the weather tends to be more pleasant during the summer. That was what my family did with a recent trip to Holland. While many of our favorite attractions remain since our last visit, some new developments made our recent stay even more convenient like our accommodations.

With the new Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Holland, most of the restaurants and shops were within walking distance. Among the highlights were the spacious lobby filled with lounge areas and our well-appointed room with flexible features that could adapt to different scenarios.

For instance, a small sofa paired with an ottoman on wheels could be a spare bed or workspace, while an end table doubled as an extra nightstand.

In the bathroom, the shower had a long narrow ledge for travel-size products and an extra towel hook installed in the glass door.

By the end of our first night, we had already explored the lively downtown area twice, once after lunch and later in the day when the weekly street performers added to the happy atmosphere. Benches in the shade made the experience even more enjoyable for me.

The charming architecture reminded me that I always thought it would be fun to live above a storefront in a walkable community, especially one like downtown Holland, where a snowmelt system lets everyone enjoy snow-free sidewalks and streets in the winter. 

Even the Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau provided design inspiration with interior brick walls and handsome wooden racks for reading materials that have their covers facing forward like a store display. I would like a similar setup at home.

A stop at Reader’s World, the local bookstore, yielded one of my favorite international shelter magazines from the UK, Livingetc, which can be hard to find.  

Other highlights included the farmers market, where I saw quite a few people buying a single sunflower to brighten their day.

At the local restaurants, creative presentations ranged from metal trays lined with wax paper for sandwiches to a fancy napkin-folding technique to hold a bread plate. 

Breakfast at the Windmill Restaurant included the Birds Nest special that features an arrangement of eggs in a nest of hash browns.

Another popular eatery, Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant had me in the lobby where their Chris-Craft model boats piqued my interest enough to consider adding one to my own home.

At one of the many gift shops, we found a colorful beach towel to add to our collection that will serve as a reminder of our stay. During our walks, we admired the clever window displays that made passersby smile, like the dishtowels that said: “Alexa, bring me my wine” or a message board that read: “I don’t need an inspirational quote.”

The friendly energy was evident wherever we went, whether talking to store employees or people walking their dogs. Lastly, an incredible performance of West Side Story at Hope College reminded me that all it takes is some talented actors and the right set design to establish a sense of place.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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