By Julia M. Johnson
How do you know when a top-flight hotel is serious about attracting high-quality meeting and event clients? When it invests more than three years and $30 million to upgrade everything from its common areas to its gathering spaces and guest rooms.
You’ll see the difference those years and dollars make when you visit the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, whose latest renovation efforts are expected to come full circle in 2016.
Cynthia Savage, director of marketing, says the hotel completed its first $20 million phase of improvements in 2013, and the dual-tower property is well into its second, $9 million-plus phase.
So what does that mean for meeting planners? Just for starters, it equals broader event group appeal, a more engaging visitor experience, updated event spaces, state-of-the-art meeting technology, new restaurant and social space, enhanced environmental responsibility – and an easy sell for guest enjoyment.
Managed by the Raphael Hotel Group, the 983-room hotel offers both its Marriott and Muehlebach towers, the latter a century-old lodging landmark that lends historic presence to the property. Connected by an elevated walkway, the towers combine to form the city’s largest convention hotel.
More than 93,000 square feet of space is available in the form of 42 different meeting rooms, and the renovation project has brought with it a completely revamped hotel entrance and lobby, along with other extensive updates. The final phase of the project includes a major update of all the hotel’s guest rooms, expected to wrap up in 2016.
The Marriott has redesigned its MetropolitanKC restaurant, and refers to its reconfigured lobby area as BARCENTRAL, a “social zone” with re-energized spaces for meeting, eating, enjoying a drink, and networking. There are personal and communal spots where guests can work or relax, and multi-media features combine with complimentary Internet access to keep visitors connected. “The new lobby features three separate but interconnected zones,” Savage says. “It has been well received by guests, in that it allows them to arrive and depart efficiently; work; socialize; and enjoy multiple dining and entertainment options.”
The hotel also has worked closely with PSAV, its audio-visual and production partner located in-house, to bring top-shelf event lighting, video, and sound technology and equipment to all its spaces.
Other features include a new Destination Control System that expedites the towers’ elevators; new digital signage; solar panels to generate “green” energy for the hotel; and updated high-speed Internet infrastructure.
Colorful history, vivid future
The look of the property’s redesigned meeting spaces is inspired by Kansas City’s own vibrant history, incorporating hues such as platinum, bronze, and jade.
“The stylized forms of our decorative glass chandeliers embody the city’s Art Deco influences,” Savage says. “Subtler color variations in the Muehlebach tower include navy blue and copper, with motifs that vividly recall the city’s ‘Gilded Age’ and the Beaux-Arts classicism that dominated the downtown skyline in the early 20th century.”
Savage says that while the renovation project has taken into account the preservation of Muehlebach history and charm, it also has addressed the changing requirements of today’s traveler and meeting guest – including the growing segment of “millennials” attending professional conferences and events. Their presence creates a demand for more sophisticated connective technology and modern spaces to gather and work, Savage says.
To commemorate its stylish reawakening, the Kansas City Marriott Downtown is planning extensive celebrations throughout 2015 under the theme of “Brilliant Past, Brilliant Future.” Stay tuned to its Facebook and Twitter feeds for updated information.
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Rusty Macy, general manager
John Brewster, director of sales
200 W. 12th Street
Kansas City MO 64105