By Kevin Collison
The Ambassador Hotel Kansas City at 1111 Grand is opening its $14.9 million addition today, just in time to welcome fans attending the Big 12 Men’s Tournament.
The nine-story tower is adding 70 rooms to the 43-room boutique hotel that opened in the historic Gate City National Bank Building in 2012.
Paul Coury, founder of Tulsa-based Coury Properties, said the decision to expand was a no-brainer.
“We were running in the mid-80s (percent room occupancy) and turning away a lot of business,” he said.
“Kansas City has been great, steady growth for us and downtown has been on fire here.”
Coury knows. His Tulsa-based firm owns or operates a dozen hotels in cities including Minneapolis, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Amarillo, Texas.
The Ambassador is marketed nationally through the Marriott Autograph Collection, a brand that features unique, luxury boutique hotels.
The new 70-room addition designed by Icon Architecture + Fabrication features seven, 543 square-foot “parlor suites” that resemble a small apartment and include a wet bar and free wi-fi.
The new addition also has a 1,500 square-foot event space on the top floor with large windows offering downtown views. It can seat 120 people for dinner or host receptions for up to 200 people. A full-service kitchen adjoins the space.
CrossFirst Bank already has booked the suite for a Big 12 event Thursday.
The original hotel space features The Reserve lounge and restaurant that’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and provides 24-hour room service. Chef Jeremiah Lyman is in charge of the food operation.
The Reserve also features live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays from 8- to 11 p.m.
Eric Willey, sales manager for the Ambassador, said The Reserve has been especially popular with people attending events downtown. The restaurant and lounge offers complimentary valet parking to its patrons as long as they’re not staying overnight.
For hotel guests, the valet parking costs $25 per day. The Ambassador also is pet-friendly, with a $50 one-time charge for guests bringing their dog along.
Coury believes that top-shelf quality will help his hotel continue to do well in a downtown Kansas City market that will have more than 2,400 new hotel rooms added over the next couple years.
“There’s not much luxury lifestyle product coming on,” he said. “Autograph is a four-diamond property. I’m not too worried about it.”
The completion of the new addition also completes the revival of the east side of the block along Grand between 11th and 12th streets. At the beginning of the 21st Century, all the buildings along that stretch were vacant and deteriorating.
In addition to the renovation of the historic Gates Bank building, the Professional Building and former Trader’s on Grand building all have been revived for new uses with the help of state and federal historic tax credits.
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