Downtown Marriott Upgrades Rooms, Adds Tech Features

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As part of the room upgrades, an original KC jazz-themed artwork by Anton Benton Gude, grandson of Thomas Hart Benton, was commissioned and is displayed in each room. (Image from Downtown Marriott)

By Kevin Collison

The Kansas City Marriott Downtown has completed a $44 million upgrade of its 970 guest rooms, preparing for the new competition and opportunity checking in next year when the Loews convention hotel opens.

Cynthia Savage, vice president of the Raphael Hotel Group, operator of the Marriott Downtown, believes downtown is well poised to compete for big conventions because of new amenities such as the Power & Light District and additional quality rooms.

“Are we going to compete? Absolutely,” she said, “but together, we win.”

The Marriott Downtown will remain the region’s biggest hotel even with the opening of the 800-room Loews scheduled for next spring.

And the money invested in overhauling its rooms is intended to reflect the changing demands of travelers.

In addition to replacing bath tubs with walk-in shower stalls in almost every room, all the beds have been replaced and room furnishings and decor upgraded.

The upgraded Downtown Marriott rooms include new bedding. (Image from Downtown Marriott)

The investment caters in particular to the technological demands of travelers. There are an average of six USB ports in every room and a 55-inch HD smart television ready for whatever streaming video service patrons want to use.

“We want to have the best product with the right amenities to offer today’s travelers and meeting goers,” Savage said.

She said the demands of younger, millennial travelers helped steer the tech improvements.

“Even if they’re not the only ones, they’ve shaped the way travel has evolved from their need to bring three devices to connect at the hotel all the way through demanding more green policies.”

As part of its upgrade, the hotel is offering guests the option to recycle and program their own individualized room heating and cooling. It’s also doing more to introduce locally-sourced food and beverage offerings.

“The local flavor is important to travelers now,” Savage said. “They want a Kansas City experience they’ll remember.”

As part of that experience, Anthony Benton Gude, the grandson of famed regional artist Thomas Hart Benton, was commissioned to create an abstract jazz intepretation displayed in every room.

Gude also created a large mural in the lobby that salutes Kansas City history and its famed personalities. The lobby and public spaces at the Marriott were freshened as part of a $21 million investment a few years ago.

The Downtown Marriott will be part of a “troika” of major downtown hotels geared toward serving the convention industry supported by a cast of smaller newcomers, Savage observed.

“I think we’ll have three distinct properties, two of us (Loews and Marriott) directly connected to the convention center with the third, Crown Center, connected by the streetcar,” she said.

“As a downtown hotel community, we’re back in the game.”

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