The Franklin County (Ohio) Convention Facilities Authority has chosen
Hilton Worldwide as the manager and operator of a 532-room convention
center hotel to be built in downtown Columbus, adjacent to the Greater
Columbus Convention Center and the Nationwide Arena. Ground could be
broken on the $175 million hotel as early as July for a fall 2012
opening. At press time, blueprints called for 23,000 square feet of
meeting and event space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom; a 300-
to 400-seat restaurant; a lounge seating 100, and a coffee shop. In
addition, a large atrium with skylights will adorn the lobby. Next door
at the convention center, planners can book the new 74,000-square-foot
Battelle Grand ballroom, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and views of
Local Update: The $500 million mixed-use development known as The Banks is under construction in Cincinnati's downtown. With residential, office, retail and hotel components, the riverfront project will span 18 acres and feature 70,000 square feet of retail, a 300,000-square-foot office building, 300 apartment units and a 200-room hotel. The apartments and retail shops should finish next spring; a completion date for the hotel component is yet to be determined.
This spring, a renovation (costing up to $100 million) of the Cincinnati Music Hall and Washington Park will commence. Current plans call for moving the orchestra space to a stage extension and reducing the hall's seating capacity by up to 1,000 chairs, resulting in more spacious seating.
On the heels of its successful debut in Louisville, Ky., 21c Museum Hotels is opening a second hotel downtown, adjacent to the Contemporary Arts Center. The property, the former Metropole Hotel, will offer 160 rooms, an 8,000-square-foot contemporary art museum open to the public, and the Proof restaurant and bar. Groundbreaking is not yet set, but the property is expected to open in 2012.
The former Tudor Arms Hotel, which dates from 1931, will become a 154-room Doubletree in the spring of 2011. A restaurant, ballrooms and event space are being built.
The 122-unit SpringHill Suites by Marriott Cincinnati Midtown opened in April 2009 with an indoor pool, a fitness area, one meeting room and free Internet access in all guest units.
Meeting Hotels: Downtown offers the 872-room Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, 490-room Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, 473-room Hyatt Regency Cincinnati, 450-room Westin Cincinnati and 198-room Kingsgate Marriott Conference Hotel at the University of Cincinnati.
North of downtown are the 274-room Holiday Inn Cincinnati I-275 North, 257-room Crowne Plaza Cincinnati North, 233-room Embassy Suites Hotel Cincinnati Northeast, 175-room Crowne Plaza Cincinnati-Blue Ash, 148-room Quality Hotel & Suites Cincinnati and 125-room Atrium Hotel & Conference Center.
Convention Center: Duke Energy Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 31. (513) 419-7300; duke-energycenter.com
Sharonville Convention Center; exhibit space, 16,654 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 6. (513) 771-7744; sharonville.org/scc
Airport Transit: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 13 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $27; via Airport Executive Shuttle service, $20
Taxes: Room tax, 17%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 17%
Group Venue: One of the many new additions to Cincinnati's restaurant scene is Local 127, named in part for its propensity for all things local. Nearby farms, families and gardens supply chef and master sommelier Steven Geddes with ingredients, while inspiration is pulled from an eclectic list of sources (cited on the menu), including "All Grandmothers" and Julia Child. Groups can experience fizzy cocktails, cured and pickled appetizers, and heartier farm-to-table dishes, with an emphasis on recipes plucked from America's heartland. A private dining space is available for groups of up to 45. (513) 721-1345; mylocal127.com
CVB Services: Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 543-2613; cincyusa.com