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New Owners to Revitalize Dated Riverfront Radisson

It is one of Covington's most iconic structures and is seen by tens of thousands of people each day that drive by it on Interstate 75, but for the past several years the Radisson Cincinnati Riverfront has appeared dated and uninspired.

Its new owners hope to change that with an ambitious, multi-million dollar renovation that is already underway.

Fayez Thayer, managing director of Canada's Tasico Hospitality Group, spoke to The River City News on Thursday. 

"Everybody I talk to in Cincinnati, and that includes other hotel customers, vendors, the guys who just finished paving the parking lot, they all have the same sentiment," Thayer said. "We have this building that has been part of our childhood, we go to it every now and then to carry it forward with our children, and it's such a letdown all the time."

"So, we're going to take a swing at it."

Tasico acquired the property from Chartwell Hospitality. The 220-room cylindrical building towers near the Brent Spence Bridge and is just across the street from Mainstrasse Village. It features sweeping views of the Northern Kentucky hills and the Covington and Cincinnati skylines. It has a swimming pool and two restaurants: Kelly's Pub and the revolving 360 at the top, just above spacious reception rooms. 

But because of its dated nature, the property has not done the business that it is possibly capable of. Now a jolt of energy is coming from the north in the form of Tasico, a small family-owned business that operates seven hotels. When the company went looking for expansion opportunities in the States, Thayer said they checked out "the usual suspects", namely Florida, Chicago, and New York.

"We just found that the value wasn't there," he said. Eventually, his team built some relationships and then a flood of fifteen to twenty hotels started coming to the company every day. "But we came out to Cincinnati. We just fell in love with it. We were looking at three hotels and this is the one that came to fruition."

The property that opened as a Quality Inn in 1972, became a Clarion Hotel, and is now a Radisson, will remain a Radisson. In fact, there isn't a whole lot missing from the hotel that can't be remedied quickly, Thayer said. "In our research and due diligence, there's not a lot missing that can't be put in without the right amount of time and capital," he said. "Our goal in the short term will be to not upset the occupancy because it's a very busy time in the region." But within a year, the hotel will undergo a complete redesign.

Already, Tasico has redone the parking lot and ordered new beds. Thayer said the top two complaints about the property are that the beds are uncomfortable and that the rooms are too noisy because of the interstate highway outside. New windows and doors will soon be on the way to fix the noise issue.

Designers will then work on a new image for the property and once that is approved by Radisson at the corporate level, a makeover will begin. "We want this building to fit into the corporate-branded hotels in the city," Thayer said. "I've already, without divulging any names, had discussions with large corporations in the region and they have all told me the same thing: we love the property, the features, but it's old and it's dated."

Guests want a restful sleep, tastefully decorated rooms, and great service, he said. The service part is already there and Tasico will retain all the staff and management, Thayer said. "We think that is not the challenge at this property."

The exterior of the building could also get a facelift in the form of creative colors and new lighting. "I can tell you it's going to fit in more with the skyline, especially at night," Thayer said. "The goal is to revitalize the inside and out."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Radisson Hotel/RCN