Carrie Rengers

New Hilton hotel concept to open at Plazzio

Tru Hotel by Hilton will open at Wichita’s Plazzio development in early 2018.
Tru Hotel by Hilton will open at Wichita’s Plazzio development in early 2018. Courtesy illustration

Developer Rick Huffman needs only one word to explain why he’s opening a new hotel at Plazzio, Laham Development’s property at 13th and Greenwich where Warren Theatres, the Alley and a number of restaurants are.

“Food,” he says. “One of the biggest things that hotel people want to do is not drive very far to eat.”

In April, Huffman will begin building a 98-room Tru Hotel by Hilton behind Braum’s.

The Tru brand debuted in January.

“The Hampton Inn was Hilton’s least-priced product,” Huffman says.

He says Hampton rooms now average $138 a night.

“They needed a product that they could build that was a little bit less expensive … but yet give all the services that Hilton wanted to give.”

The Wichita Tru’s rooms will be around $115.

Huffman, a Wichita native who now lives in Branson, Mo., and is CEO of HCW Development, says Tru has smaller rooms but larger bathrooms, most of which have sizable showers. Only a few have bathtubs.

Guests “like to have more room in a bathroom, we found,” Huffman says.

He says the lobby is bigger than normal with an area for games such as ping-pong and pool. There also are business stations and high-streaming WiFi.

“So it’s a real active lobby,” Huffman says.

He says it’ll also be airy with bright colors.

“We’re targeting the younger customer.”

Huffman says he thinks there are a lot of millennials visiting the east side of Wichita, particularly for high-tech jobs.

Tru will have an outdoor fire pit for visiting, free breakfast and packaged food for sale all day.

Guests can use Hilton Honors points.

“Hilton customers are very loyal to the brand,” Huffman says. “We expect regular business travel also.”

Guests also can use their mobile phones as keys, he says.

“You don’t have to stop at the front desk.”

Tru will be ready by January or February 2018.

Earlier this year, Have You Heard? reported that Huffman also is building a west-side hotel. He says he’s targeting what he calls an older, more traditional hotel customer with a new 88-room Hampton Inn Hotel at Slawson Cos.’ Cadillac Lake development at the southeast corner of 29th and Maize Road. Construction starts there next week and will be finished around September.

That will be it for Wichita projects for now for Huffman.

“We’re always looking for opportunities,” he says. However, he adds, “We’re really busy right now in Arizona.”

He says he has five properties in the works there.

Huffman says occupancy rates on Wichita’s east side are strong.

He says he has known developer George Laham for a long time, and it was a natural to locate at his Plazzio.

Huffman says the development has “a lot of activity, a lot of food and access to K-96, which is really important, too.”

“We think it’s an awesome location.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers