SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS May 2007 With last summer's debut of its newly renovated and expanded convention center, Cincinnati can now accommodate 75 percent of the U.S. meetings market. Thanks to a new airport runway, more groups can fly into the Queen City, and there's more to see and do once they arrive, from new shopping and dining options at Fountain Square, to a new, Key-West-inspired water park, to (if they dare) a climb across the Purple People Bridge-the first activity of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere.
Essential Tool Box
Convention Facilities: CINCINNATI Duke Energy Center, 200,000 sf of dedicated exhibit space, 38 meeting rooms, largest holds 4,100 theater-style. Sharonville Convention Center, 16,554 sf of dedicated exhibit space, 14 meeting rooms, largest holds 2,000 theater-style. NORTHERN KENTUCKY Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 46,080 sf of dedicated exhibit space, 22 meeting rooms, largest holds 2,400 theater-style.
For complete facilities listings visit Facility Quick Search located at www.mimegasite.com
Average Daily Business Travel Costs*: Hotel $141.11 F&B $84.93 Car Rental $93.98
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*Source: Business Travel News 2006 Corporate
The Big News
Last June, the Duke Energy Center (above), formerly the Cinergy Center, unveiled a $135-million expansion, renovation, and reconfiguration that included a $4.5-million technology upgrade. The center now offers 200,000 contiguous sf of exhibit space; a 40,000-sf grand ballroom; a 17,400-sf junior ballroom; and 31 breakout rooms accommodating 24 to 4,100 people.
FACILITIES UPDATES CINCINNATI Earlier this year, the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza underwent a soft-goods renovation including new bedding and carpeting, and unveiled a 2,350-sf meeting room named Rue Reolon, with space for 200, in memory of the hotel's former executive chef.
* In 2006, the Westin Cincinnati spent $14.5-million on renovations that added two new restaurants-McCormick & Schmick's (245 seats) and Ingredients (155 seats)-as well as a new lobby with Wi-Fi service and the Fountain Room, a 4,600-sf, 200-seat banquet room overlooking Fountain Square.
* Fountain Square, in downtown Cincinnati, unveiled a $42-million redesign last summer, including new dining and retail options.
* The Purple People Bridge Climb debuted last summer. Groups can now climb the 2,670-foot-long pedestrian-only bridge that spans the Ohio River, connecting downtown Cincinnati to northern Kentucky's entertainment district. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.
* The Drury Inn & Suites Cincinnati North opened in 2006 in Sharonville, with 180 rooms.
* The CoCo Key Water Resort, a 65,000-sf indoor water park, will open this fall at the Sheraton Cincinnati North, across the street from the Sharonville Convention Center.
Northern Kentucky The 321-room Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter is undergoing a refurbishment, adding new
carpeting to all guestrooms.
* Newport on the Levee opened the Southview Restaurant, serving urban soul food in a contemporary warm
Restaurants for Groups
Cincinnati restaurants with group dining facilities that are listed in the Zagat Survey include Celestial Steakhouse and Daveed's at 934 (Mt. Adams); Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse and The Palace (Downtown); The Precinct (Columbus-Tusculum); and Prima Vista (Price Hill). For more selections, go to www.zagat.com
Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from the Successful Meetings Home Team experts. Top choices include the 488-room Hyatt Regency Cincinnati as well as the 321-room Cincinnati Marriott and the 227-room Embassy Suites Cincinnati, both at RiverCenter in Covington, KY. g
Contributors to this section include Home Team members Michelle Santee Tupps, Marilyn Dice, and William Youngs. Contact them at [email protected]
Putting the "Oh!" in Ohio
Cincinnatians say the Queen City often exceeds visitors' expectations. "Our physician-attendees are surprised by the number of activities we have," observes Laura Werts, CMP, continuing medical education coordinator for the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, "such as museums, an active theater community, and lots of good restaurants."
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum are highly popular off-site venues, says Werts. She also recommends the Contemporary Arts Center, designed by celebrity architect Zaha Hadid, and the Bell Event Centre at the Verdin Bell Clock Tower & Museum, a converted 1850 church accommodating up to 350.
But there's more-group space at the Great American Ballpark (home of the Cincinnati Reds), the Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Bengals), and the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, a historic 1933 train station featuring three museums and an Omnimax theater. And if your attendees enjoy sampling local fare, Werts suggests barbecued ribs from Montgomery Inn, Graeter's ice cream, LaRosa's pizza, and Gold Star chili.
Out-of-town planners agree with Werts. "Cincinnati is very nice," says Carla Harbour, CMP, marketing communications specialist for Worldspan, a travel software company in Atlanta, who held an 80-person customer event at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza this month. "You get a lot for your money and everyone is extremely accommodating."
"Cincinnati is considered a secondary market, but is very sophisticated," says Gloria Nelson, CSEP, chief experience officer of Gloria Nelson Event Design in Winneconne, WI, who spoke last November at a local chapter meeting of the International Special Events Society, held at the Cincinnati Art Museum. "I was pleasantly surprised they had such tremendous resources and committed professionals."
Because airfares to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport are pricey, Nelson suggests flying into Dayton, just 45 minutes away: "We saved the local ISES chapter several hundred dollars by doing this." - SJW
In the Beginning . . .
Opening this month, just west of the Cincinnati Airport, the 70,000-sf Creation Museum is the latest venue in Greater Cincy, and promises to be most controversial. The $27-million project is the dreamchild of Ken Ham, syndicated radio host, Christian speaker, and founder and president/CEO of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a not-for-profit organization that advocates the Biblical theory of creation over evolutionism.
But no matter what side of the argument your group is on, there is no doubt that the Creation Museum is built on a grand scale and has all the bells and whistles of a modern theme park. "State-of-the-art animatronics-including large dinosaurs," lists Mark Looy, chief compliance officer of AiG and the Creation Museum, "a planetarium, a special-effects theater with shaking seats, blowing wind, mists of water, and more." Exhibits includes two small T. Rexes alongside animatronic, primitive people, as well as a lifelike $80,000 raptor.
Looy, who expects the museum to have a minimum of 250,000 visitors during its first year of operation, is proud of the last-minute expansion that added 20,000 sf of space to the original 50,000-sf structure, expanded the lobby by 7,000 sf, and doubled the size of the cafe.
While the museum contains two 40-seat classrooms, the 210-seat theater, and the 80-seat planetarium, Looy believes that at outset, meeting space will used for AiG's own educational activities. Groups sales, however, are available and the museum is sited beside a lake on 49 acres that includes two nature trails. - Terri Hardin