The Christ Hospital had a big problem.

Big as in 3,275 employees, day and night shifts, who needed to be swiftly trained in a completely new hospital information system. This Epic computer system would manage everything from registration to billing to physician notes made in a patient’s room to pharmacy orders.

The training had to run from 7 a.m. to midnight, with groups of no more than 25 people, separated by specialty area. Each staff member needed her own computer, headphones, internet access and network link.

One hitch: Christ’s training facilities consisted of one computer classroom. “That wasn’t going to get it done,” recallsDeborah Hayes, Christ’s vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer, with a laugh.

That’s when she found Northern Kentucky University’s Metropolitan Education and Training Service Center (METS) in Erlanger. The brainchild of Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba, the 43,000-square-foot meeting space became home for two months to rotating groups of Christ employees.

It was a tall order for METS, too. Design of the Christ training center started in January, with new hardware, upgraded network switches for faster internet connections, and 240 laptop rentals. The first Christ employees arrived for training in March.

At times, Christ training overlapped with other groups using the center. “We would have to tear down and set it all back up again if we had another event,” says Phil Horney, METS director of technology. “It took a lot of manpower.”

Hayes says it was all worth it, as the Epic system rollout June 1 went down smoother than hospital Jell-O. “The METS Center — what an extraordinary group of people,” she says. “Every wish we had, they accommodated; they thought of things we didn’t.”

Training, seminars and conferences have long been a staple in the business world, but while a dynamic speaker can motivate and educate, finding the proper port of call that supports all your needs — including R&R — can be a challenge. Cincy went looking around for some of the best Tristate locations to hold your seminar, team-building exercise or other professional development training and found, among other things, an “underwater” possibility.


Most people think of the Newport Aquarium as a great place to take the family for a day out, but businesses have discovered that training seminars or corporate conferences benefit from a seaside view. Just ask Jan Mitchell of The Midland Co.

“They do wonderful job, they’re very professional and accommodating,” says Mitchell. “The facility is great, and their chef has met with me before to create a dinner that was just right for our group. I’d do another event there in a heartbeat.”

At Newport Aquarium, before or after the actual training you could have breakfast with the penguins, cocktails with the sharks or a soothing dessert in the jellyfish room. The aquarium can create a focused or all-inclusive seminar event, says Jill Isaacs, an aquarium spokesman, because the new ballroom there works for conferences or seminars, as well as weddings and parties.

“They work together because we can allow the aquarium to be integrated into the event,” says Isaacs. “They can use the entire aquarium, or use it as a separate part. You might have a seminar in the ballroom and a team-building exercise in the aquarium facility, going through all of the different exhibits.”

Julie Bernzott of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber says the aquarium turned out to be a winner for bothenvironment and convenience when she held a meeting there.

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Bernzott. “From the very beginning, I was very impressed. They were very organized, and they had someone there all day in case I needed anything. Their service was impeccable. And it’s such a beautiful space — not a lot of meeting spaces have a view, much less a window that looks out on the river.”


If you find the grin of a shark distracting, The Savannah Center, which opened in November in West Chester, can bring together up to 1,200 in a posh location on a 5-acre lake. The Chappell Crossing Boulevard center has a grand ballroom for large groups, plus smaller executive spaces, all in a greener facility heated by a geothermal system.

Couple that with an award-winning chef, who prepares a wide array of mainly Southern-influenced meals, and the makings of a memorable seminar are within reach.

For business meetings, the Savannah has live video-teleconferencing capability. “There isn’t any kind of event that Savannah cannot do,” explains Martin Stuart of his center.

Another option is Oasis Conference Center in Loveland, which sits on an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, allowing golf packages to go with your training, or just outdoor reception spots with a view to calm the corporate jitters. Wireless internet accessibility is a plus here, not to mention free parking, staff to keep the seminar flowing smoothly and an individually billed dining area for conferences that don’t include a meal in the price tag.

But sometimes, there’s nothing like a good game of Skee-Ball to help build corporate spirit.

Dave & Buster’s, located near Tri-County Mall off of Kemper Road, is another spot people tend to think of just as a dining, billiards and gaming center for adults and families. But Javier Varela of Toyota Engineering & Manufacturing of America knows differently.

“Working with Toyota, we’re a very structured group,” says Varela, a supply development administrator based in Hebron. Holding a meeting at Dave & Buster’s “allowed us to get away from the facility and have some team-building exercises, and have some fun.”

With more 65,000 feet of space, Dave & Buster’s is more than a palace of fun, it’s a palace of fun that you can sometimes disguise as work. “Whether it’s a group of 2,000 or 10, we can accommodate them,” says Tina Bojack of Dave & Buster’s sales department. “We have numerous team-building events we can do that are definitely unique.”

Say, breaking into teams and competing in car racing video games, basketball shootouts or Skee-Ball contests for a medal that you can wear with pride around the office. Or, you could help lead your team to victory in the Dave & Buster’s Great Race. You can participate in an ultimate quest scavenger hunt, enjoy a mystery theater, or even test your knowledge of your co-workers in a Dave & Buster’s production of the Newlywed Show called “He Said! She Said!”

“This encouraged teamwork and collaboration,” says Varela. “One of our first activities was to break up into teams and do a cheer for our team, which was really fun. We did a rap, a little song and dance that broke us away from our comfort zone. This met our needs.”


There are some other new options that offer a variety of services. Consider the Schiff Family Conference Center at the Cintas Center, located on the campus of Xavier University. The Schiff offers full service catering, state-of-the-art audio and visual, complimentary planning and free parking.

The Roberts Centre in Wilmington features an upscale, yet approachable atmosphere, and is home to the Holiday Inn, Max & Erma’s Restaurant, and the Roberts Conference Centre, which has more than 80,000 square feet of un-obstructive meeting space, wireless internet, and an outdoor patio.

The Marcum Conference Center & Miami Inn, found on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, is a unique venue with flexible meeting space and 92 hotel rooms. There is 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, all housed in a colonial style building set in a wooded retreat. The Marcum also offers a business center and wireless internet access.

The new Sheraton Cincinnati Airport is the only hotel at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron. It offers complimentary airport shuttle and hotel parking for registered guests, wireless internet access, private club accommodations, a library, fitness room, lap pool and more than 7,000 square feet of new event space and a bistro & bar.