Breakfast at Maplewood

The Duke Energy Center, at 750,000-square feet, is the main hub for events, meet- ings and exhibitions. Centrally-located in the heart of the downtown dis- trict, the center adheres to an admirable set of sustain- ability initiatives, having been awarded by the STEP UP program for its green-based programs.

Just like other major cities on the rise, Cincy also is as much about the ignoble spirit dominating its present and its people. In truth, it suffered a somewhat turbu- lent past. But with a youth- ful infusion that’s ever- gentrifying its hip, happening neighborhoods to go along with a slew of Fortune 500 companies calling this their

Take one-part Pittsburghian grit, a dash of Cleveland’s workaday spirit, and a heavy dose of Chicago’s Midwestern-ness, and then add to it a heightened level of cucumber-cool and youthful cachet and you have Cincinnati USA.

Meeting planners have been taking notice of this town, and so has the press. T

ravel & Leisurerecently commented:

“On the banks of the Ohio River, the his- tory-steeped Queen City has risen from its post-industrial doldrums,” naming it one of their Best Places to Travel in 2017.

Like other cities on the rise, this isn’t your Cincy of yesterday.

Just look at all the Millennials moving in, thanks to jobs which are plentiful and still-affordable rents. Yup. It’s pretty cool here.

It’s also accessible - just a quick and cheap westerly hop into Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) from most of the Mid-Atlantic’s major airports.

Heck, one hour and twenty minutes direct from PHL, and just as I’m getting into a good book, I am suddenly request- ed to stow my tray table and adjust my seat to an upright position.

92 November z December 2017

HQ (Macy’s, GE, Kroger supermarkets and Proctor & Gamble), Cincy’s become a something-for-everyone kind of place.

I’m impressed with the town’s thriving renaissance. In fact, I cannot fail to notice the not-so-subtle irony in the name of my own lodging opportunity: The Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel - also centrally located, and just one block away from the symbolic heart of the city, Fountain Square. Amid that heart is the cast bronze 43-foot female form, her arms outstretched and cascad- ing water - a dramatic homage to Cincinnati’s riverside.

More than a mere hotel, the 363-room Renaissance is situated in what had been the city’s farmed Bartlett Building (circa 1901), renovated in 2014 to the tune of $32.2 million dollars. Within and throughout the Art Deco-drenched set- ting, replete with marble-galore, stamped chevrons and wooded wainscotings, the property seethes with jaw-dropping refinement.

On the second floor, Burnham Hall is a lofty former bank space now converted into an event venue offering a capacity of over 900. Adjacent, lining the floor’s mezzanine, are a plethora of adjoining meeting and board rooms - civil, historic

backdrops for events of varying sizes and scopes.

The city’s powers-that-be, in their quest for that all-important connectivity, recent- ly installed the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar. Just over a year-old, and run- ning a contiguous loop linking the river- front and downtown with the city’s most popular locations, including the famed Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (more on that in a moment), and the Duke Energy Center, the Connector is as much of an investment in the city’s future as it is in point-to-point access.

Hop on board! It’s just a buck to ride for the hour; $2 for a whole-day pass! The street car trolleys up a long incline and then, quick enough, we’re entering Over-the-Rhine.

Germanic settlers of the mid-19th centu- ry who, upon arriving from the Ohio River and crossing into the threshold across Miami and Erie canals, named this section of the city for that ascension - just like crossing over the Rhine back in their homeland. It’s here where they thrived, those makers of sausage and brewers of incredible amounts of beer back in those early days.

Then, Over-the-Rhine fell on hard times - and violent ones, too. The section saw race riots, crime, drugs and worse.

Yet, thanks to a strong collaborative effort from the arts community, along with the faith held by a few stalwart restaurateurs, OTR persevered - and it began to thrive.

Today, this sprawling section, with its impressively-restored Italianate, Venetian Gothic, and Beaux Arts building facades, showcase architectural significance amid its teeming, hipster-y scene filled with art academies, the Cincinnati Music Hall, the Ensemble Theatre, and home to over a dozen historic churches.

Toward the western end of OTR is Findlay Market. Since 1852, it’s been the oldest continuously operated farmer’s market in the city. Looking for produce? Gelato? Bacon, and I mean BACON- from regular cuts to smoky fatback to choco- late or coffee, Cajun spice or pumpkin- dusted bacon - it’s all here.

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