The Cincinnati Convention Center is surrounded by $2 billion of new developments, including a seasonal ice rink, more than a dozen restaurants, and a handful of hotels and retail outlets.
In February, Caesars Entertainment broke ground on the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati. Along with 33,000 square feet of meeting space, the 354,000-square-foot complex will feature approximately 2,300 slot machines and 72 gaming tables, three restaurants and a 2,500-spot parking garage. Completion is set for 2012.
In March, the 134-room Residence Inn by Marriott opened in the former Phelps Apartments on Fourth Street in the Lytle Park historic district. The property underwent a $10 million transformation and offers 1,157 square feet of meeting space.
The Christian Moerlein Lager House Restaurant and Brewery will open in October and will feature a working microbrewery producing Moerlein craft beers, along with smoked rotisserie meats and bread made from leftover grains collected after the brewing process. The $4 million restaurant, available for private dining and meetings, will include indoor areas with seating for up to 500, while two outdoor beer gardens will accommodate 600.
A lot is happening in the up-and-coming neighborhood known as The Banks, which runs along the Ohio River between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park. Phase one of a massive redevelopment project finished earlier this year and includes 80,000 square feet of retail space. With work continuing over the next decade, the area eventually will offer nearly three million square feet of residential, retail, restaurant and business space.
The Holy Grail Tavern & Grille opened in March not far from the Great American Ballpark. The 6,000-square-foot eatery features 20 beers on tap and locally sourced American pub fare, generally priced below $10. Regular patrons swear by the double-marinated chicken teriyaki sandwich with provolone and grilled pineapple.
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill is scheduled to open this summer in downtown Cincinnati. The 16,000-square-foot restaurant will double as an entertainment venue and be outfitted with dozens of high-definition TVs as well as a mechanical bull named Toby. Menu items will feature Southern-style dishes, from pulled pork sandwiches to Southern-fried Twinkies.
Cincinnati's leafy Washington Park currently is undergoing a $46 million renovation and expansion that will add six to eight acres of green space, in addition to an underground garage able to hold 450 cars. The project is expected to be completed in 2012.
The $465 million Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center (rendition above) will be completed in 2013, giving the city a substantial boost in function space. For more details, visit bit.ly/dOsT3U.
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 the downtown area 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.
The Duke Energy Convention Center; exhibit space, 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 31 (513) 419-7300
Sharonville Convention Center; exhibit space, 16,654 square feet; number of meeting rooms, six. (513) 771-7744;
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, approximately 13 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $27; via Airport Executive Shuttle service, $20
Room tax, 17%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 17%
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is dedicated to telling the inspiring stories of freedom fighters from the Civil War era through current times, including exhibits depicting the history of slavery. Among several event spaces is a 6,816-square-foot grand hall with floor-to-ceiling windows, Italian stone and a winding marble staircase. Two outdoor terraces feature views of the Ohio River and city skyline. (513) 333-7584
After normal operating hours, the entire Newport Aquarium is available for groups of up to 1,500 people. Guests can view sharks, penguins and sea turtles while sipping cocktails or enjoying hors d'oeuvres. The venue features some 70 exhibits and five underwater tunnels. (859) 261-7444
Daveed's at 934 offers a fine-dining experience for groups of up to 30. Begin with seared scallops served with beets, raisins and pine nuts, or roasted mushroom soup topped with creme fraiche and croutons, before diving into pan-seared duck breast or hanger steak garnished with fig glaze. (513) 721-2665
Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 543-2613