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Downtown Cincinnati In Hotel 'Boom' But Still Lags Behind Other Cities

Tana Weingartner
The Marriott Renaissance opened in a former bank at 4th and Walnut in 2014.

Downtown Cincinnati is in the midst of a hotel boom. Depending on who you talk to, there are seven or eight under construction, or in the planning stages. It's an exciting time, according to the vice president of communications for the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Jenelle Walton says the boom is driven by the revitalization of Cincinnati's core. "These hotel developers are seeing this flurry of activity that's coming in. We've got start-ups, new businesses. We've also got people moving into Downtown, and that brings in new visitors."

She says tourism is up. According to a report from the CVB, meetNKY and the Regional Tourism Network, in 2017, there were an estimated 26.6 million visitors to the area, a 2% increase from the year before.

That year, Downtown had just over 3,000 rooms in 10 hotels. Walton says three more have opened since then. "But when you compare that to a city that's similar to Cincinnati in population, St. Louis in 2017 had 23 downtown hotels. All these hotels that are going up right now are just going to add to the inventory and give travelers options."

Among the hotels under construction are: 5th and Walnut, 4th and Walnut, 4th and Vine, Lytle Park, and two at 7th and Race.

Walton says there really isn't a fear of too many hotels. "They're enhancing what our destination has to offer to visitors."

She says the CVB is focused on the development of a new hotel to boost convention business. "We do have hotels in Downtown, but they have a combination of people who are coming in to town to visit, for travel, but they also have to book rooms for those larger conventions. A lot of meeting planners want to have their attendees under one roof. So having a new convention center hotel will allow us to do that. Plus, the additional meeting place will be attractive, too."

Walton says having so many new hotels will drive competition. "We know that new competition drives different things for different hotels. You might want to improve your customer service. You might want to remodel a hotel as well. We understand that as new hotels open it could drive some competition and encourage some people to remodel or renovate."

Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders have been trying to persuade the owners of the Millennium Hotel to renovate the facility. Mayor John Cranley has publicly discouraged people from staying there, and talked with Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters about filing a nuisance complaint.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.