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State of the Industry: Cincinnati Edition

(July / August 2017) posted on Mon Aug 07, 2017

Thought leaders from all sides of the region’s hospitality industry talk shop on what makes secondary markets hotbeds for hotel development.

By Matthew Hall

click an image below to view slideshow

Like a lot of secondary cities around the U.S., Cincinnati has gone from fly-over country status to being a big blip on the hotel development radar. Additions to the city’s core in recent years include a 21c Museum Hotel in a converted apartment building, a dual-branded Hampton Inn & Suites/Homewood Suites in a former newspaper tower and a new-build Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. And slated to debut there soon is the AC Hotel Cincinnati at The Banks. The city’s suburban hotel stable has also seen some growth—including the recently opened 120-room Hyatt Place Cincinnati/Sharonville Convention Center—as have its just-across-the-Ohio River counterparts in Northern Kentucky, such as Newport (whose new Hampton Inn & Suites is shown below) and Covington (that city’s Hotel Covington was featured in the April 2017 edition of Boutique Design).

The Hampton Inn & Suites in Newport, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. Photo: Grupenhof Photography/Courtesy of CR Architecture + Design

So, why are these once-overlookable destinations so hot, and what could dampen the enthusiasm for non-gateway urban assets? Boutique Design brought together leading voices from the area’s hospitality ownership/operations, design, architecture and manufacturing sectors to share their insights on the opportunities and challenges presented by Cincinnati and other mid-sized markets, along with several related—and timely—topics.

The event was held at the downtown Cincinnati headquarters of CR architecture + design, and was moderated by Boutique Design executive editor Mary Scoviak. Here are some takeaways from that no-holds-barred discussion:

FIRST-CLASS OPPORTUNITIES: People and businesses are relocating to smaller markets. The cost of living, especially housing, is more affordable, as is commercial real estate. Also appealing are the slower-paced lifestyle and ease of access to cultural/civic resources. While the prime opportunities for adaptive reuse and conversions have been snapped up already, in many markets developers willing to get creative in terms of finding/concepting challenging buildings will still have a chance to make their mark. And, with lower real estate costs, there are also options for new-builds that can make the numbers work.

The biggest wins are still likely to be first-in-line lifestyle hotels. Daniel Fay, chairman and founder of Commonwealth Hotels LLC, pointed out that was a principal driver behind the ART, a hotel in downtown Denver that his firm manages. Fay said the key is custom-tailoring the concept to the character and tastes of the specific market. In his view, even a strong performer such as the ART won’t be scalable.


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