By Kevin Collison
Metro Kansas City’s largest hotel, the 970-room Downtown Marriott, has gone dark until at least May 11 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest local casualty of the collapse in the national hospitality industry caused by the virus.
The 22-story hotel, known for the vivid LED lighting displays splashed across its broad facade, closed abruptly, apparently within the past few days, with little or no warning. The most recent Downtown Marriott social media posting was dated April 10.
There was no information on the hotel’s website, or on its social media channels, about the closing.
The only notice were signs taped to the hotel entrance doors saying “Please note that the hotel is currently closed,” and directed anyone with a question about reservations to call its general phone number at 816-421-6800.
Calls were directed to a national Marriott reservation desk where an operator said the hotel was expected to reopen on May 11. She did not know when the closing occurred.
Officials with the Raphael Group, the hotel operator, could not be reached for comment.
With the temporary shutdown of the Downtown Marriott, the only remaining major convention hotels operating downtown are the 724-room Westin Crown Center and 385-room Crowne Plaza.
The 733-room Sheraton Crown Center closed more than two weeks ago, and the new, 800-room Loews Kansas City Convention Hotel has delayed its opening, which had been scheduled for April 2, indefinitely because of the travel collapse prompted by the Covid pandemic.
Other notable downtown hotel temporary closings caused by the virus include the Crossroads Hotel and the 21C Savoy.
The Downtown Marriott recently completed a $44 million upgrade that included overhauling its rooms with upgraded bathrooms, new bedding, fresh furnishings and the latest technology.
Raphael Group officials said the reinvestment was intended to make the Downtown Marriott competitive in what was expected to be a booming Kansas City convention business sparked by the new Loews.
That was before Covid.
Nationwide, the hotel industry is projected to report a 50.6 percent decline in revenue per available room in 2020 because of the pandemic, according to a forecast by industry analysts STR and Tourism Economics.
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