Wichita Ambassador Hotel project is ahead of schedule

Construction projects are rarely ahead of schedule, but the downtown Ambassador Hotel Wichita is.

And on Thursday, hotel officials provided a glimpse of what the rooms will look like in the upscale 117-room hotel when it opens at Douglas and Broadway in December, a shade ahead of developer Paul Coury’s goal of Jan. 1.

The $22.5 million hotel is one of three projects under way in downtown’s first completely revitalized block under the city’s master plan, with several of its luxury rooms taking shape. On Thursday, project partners Dave Burk and Dave Wells were touring the progress.

“The concept here is to provide a luxurious accommodation for business travelers and weekend travelers, visitors to the region,” said Michael Frimel, an executive vice president of Coury’s Ambassador Hotel Collection and the manager of the Wichita hotel. “The room is a little bit French-inspired from the colors. All of the furnishings were designed by Paul Coury, the draperies were custom-made for us by a company out of Tulsa. Everything is custom to our design.”

That design is fluid, Frimel said: The model rooms like those on the tour were put together to tweak elements of the French design, with medium wood tones blending with leathers amid a contrast of purples, creams and grays.

“We’ve put the model rooms together so we can tweak fabrics and that kind of thing,” he said. “It’s hard to tell how they’re all going to go together and what they’ll look like until you put the rooms together. So, we’ve made a couple of changes. A chair will change, the fabric will change, but overall this is the concept of the room.”

The rooms incorporate the same windows used in the historic bank building, so they have a heavy emphasis on skyline views. They include 42-inch flat-screen HD televisions, complementary bathrobes, marble bathrooms, wireless service, custom mattresses and small refrigerators stocked with drinks and snacks.

Its signature Rockstar Suite will include a fireplace, dining room, 11/2 baths and a small service kitchen. Frimel said the 14th floor will be marketed to a variety of VIPs visiting Wichita, such as performers at Intrust Bank Arena, major business clients and politicians.

Painting and decor work is under way on many of the rooms, Frimel said. Hotel officials are taking reservations at a temporary office across the street in the Broadway Plaza, and plans are in place to open and operate a ground-floor restaurant, the 2,400-square-foot Siena Tuscan Steakhouse. Hiring for most hotel jobs begins in November.

Next door to the south, work is beginning on the renovation of the historic Henry’s building, one of downtown’s retail fixtures. And down the street east on Douglas, foundation work has begun on the Kansas Health Foundation’s $9 million expansion and the city’s $7.57 million, 300-stall parking garage and adjoining urban park.

Frimel said the adjoining developments are a “huge asset.”

“Number one, it will bring people downtown because there’s a revitalization of the downtown area,” he said. “We’re going to see some additions in the Henry’s Plaza building adding office space, restaurants, that will bring people downtown; and we think our restaurant and bar will, too. What this will become for downtown Wichita is a place to come for lunch, a cocktail afterwards and for outsiders a draw to come downtown and spend some time.”

Hotel construction is ongoing despite a public vote in February to deny $2.25 million in city guest tax revenues to the project. Sixty-one percent of Wichitans voted in a referendum against the incentive, one piece of a $15 million public incentive package.

The Ambassador Collection includes hotels in Wichita, Tulsa and Kansas City. Wells’ Key Construction is the project general contractor.