By Kevin Collison
For more than 30 years, the hilltop at 16th and Wyandotte across the South Loop from downtown has been coveted as a hotel site.
With the opening of the new Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel set for April 2, it’s easy to understand why.
Yes, the new hotel has all the luxury amenities you’d expect–biggest private ballroom in town, 300-seat restaurant, sumptuous rooms, grand lobby–all styled in a corporate-chic palette of charcoals, grays and earth tones, but it’s the location that sets it apart.
The moment you enter the main entrance off Wyandotte and turn the corner you’re hit with a show-stopper view, a glistening altar of a bar with a three-story backdrop of the skyscrapers of downtown.
Upstairs, on the south side of the building, the sixth floor “City Beautiful” ballroom opens to a lobby that offers a sweeping view of the Crossroads, Kauffman Center and Crown Center.
And if that isn’t enough, a huge seventh floor outdoor deck features an event lawn overlooking Bartle Hall and Kauffman Center.
“The quality of this building is more than what was promised,” Manager Brian Johnson summed up.
The new 800-room Loews is the largest operated by the luxury hotel group outside Orlando, bigger than its hotels in Chicago and New York.
The $322.7 million project is the culmination of an effort launched in 2011 by attorney Mike Burke, but its history goes back much further to when Texas billionaire Ross Perot Jr. first pursued a convention hotel project for site in the 1980s.
After several false starts, the new hotel project finally broke ground in September 2018. At its peak construction period about a year ago, more than 750 workers were on the site.
And the permanent hiring is well under way.
At a job fair two weeks ago, 238 people were hired. Ultimately, up to 450 jobs are expected to be created, some of them part-time positions needed to staff large banquets.
“We’re putting millions of dollars worth of payroll into peoples’ pockets,” Johnson said.
The decor of the hotel taps into Kansas City airline history with the guest rooms featuring black-and-white photos of planes and the carpet designs incorporating stylized flight patterns.
There are 47 suites, 380 king-bed and 373 double-queen bed rooms, each with refrigerators, safes, luxury beds and enough electric outlets, charging stations and USB ports to handle any business traveler needs.
The elevator lobby is at the corner of the L-shape layout of the 24-story hotel, making all rooms is relatively short walking distance. Each hallway also ends in a floor-to-ceiling window that brightens what are usually dead corridors with natural light.
The public spaces that make Loews a convention hotel destination are state-of-the-art. Besides the 27,166 square-foot City Beautiful ballroom, the largest in the metro, there’s a 13,000 square-foot “junior” ballroom, the Neptune, off the main lobby.
The seventh floor outdoor deck features a 3,200 square-foot event lawn surrounded by a deck, canopy and bar area. A tent also can be set up for special events. Johnson said the outdoor space is considered a great selling point for meetings.
A three-story escalator descends through the spacious main lobby. Local artwork is featured throughout the building and in a special touch, the stylized notes to a Charlie Parker jazz tune “Now’s Our Time” have been worked into the design.
The spectacular lobby bar seats 168 people. Nearby is a grab-and-go food and beverage area and the full-service restaurant seats 300. An outdoor terrace off the bar and restaurant overlooks the downtown skyline.
“The lobby has been designed to be the social hub of the hotel,” Johnson said. “Travelers want to be out with people in a social setting.”
The new Loews already has been credited by Visit KC with being key to attracting events totaling more than 100,000 people over the next eight years, with many more expected now that it’s opening.
The first big influx of guests will be players and families for a major national volleyball tournament. This summer, the National Baptist Convention and the national Shriners Convention is on tap.
“We know we’re bringing new business into Kansas City that wasn’t considering us in the past and events are coming back to Kansas City that had left,” said Mark Champa, director of sales and marketing.
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