The Ambassador Hotel debuted downtown with a party on New Year’s Eve, but general manager Michael Frimel has been in Wichita and working on opening the hotel since late 2011.
“I say this over and over again, but the people of Wichita are so welcoming,” Frimel said. “I don’t run into anybody that’s a stranger.”
That’s a benefit to an otherwise challenging prospect of opening a hotel.
“It’s a lot of work,” Frimel said. “It’s a loss of a lot of sleep and a lot of time away from your family.”
The rewards are great, though, he said.
“Being able to open the building and being able to share with everybody else is probably the highlight because you know all the blood and the sweat and the tears that went into it.”
Going from zero guests to several hundred at once isn’t the easiest way to open, though.
“When you open the building for the first time to the public, and you open with a full capacity and 400 people, you quickly learn what the limits of your building are,” Frimel said. “It’s kind of like putting yourself right in the fire. ... All of a suddenly you have 400 customers standing in front of you. It’s quite a shock.”
Q. What was the hardest part of opening the hotel?
A. The hardest part for us was making sure that all the drapes were in the rooms. We were still putting drapes in the guest rooms on New Year’s Eve.
Q. Some have said the Ambassador is very New York City. Is that something you tried to create?
A. Yes, we really tried to bring the East Coast and the West Coast into the Midwest but … making it an affordable luxury and a more Midwestern feel to the service level. … Here it’s more of a soft delivery.
Q. Anything keep you up at night?
A. Ahh, everything. Just, you know, wondering if everything’s going well here.
Q. Your website has taken a ribbing for boasting of your restaurant views of Wichita’s sidewalks. Is that fair?
A. Unless you’ve been in the restaurant and look outside at what is really going on in downtown Wichita, you can’t really appreciate it. Yes, people make fun of it, but it’s truly a magical place to be. I mean, if we can’t see the potential we have, then we’re never going to be able to get to that potential.
Q. Of course, it could just be you’re trying to get people to come to your restaurant, right?
A. It could be, it could be, but I will tell you when I look at all the buildings around us ... you start to think in that realm of what downtown could be. Looking out our window today won’t be the same as what it will be in two years. ... Two years ago, would anybody have thought that this building that was vacant for 12 years would be what it is today? ... There’s something to be said to be able to look through the glass and see the future.