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
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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