Cityscape

AC Hotels by Marriott opening in Westport next month

The AC Hotel by Marriott is in its final month of a complete makeover in Westport. The bar area, shown here, will be one of the hotel’s attractions when it opens in mid-February.
The AC Hotel by Marriott is in its final month of a complete makeover in Westport. The bar area, shown here, will be one of the hotel’s attractions when it opens in mid-February. The Kansas City Star

AC Hotels by Marriott has more than 80 locations in such countries as Italy, France, Portugal and Spain.

Now it is expanding in the U.S. with a New Orleans hotel that opened in November and a Kansas City hotel set to open in Westport in mid-February, just in time for Valentine’s Day getaways.

Noble Investment Group purchased the former Q Hotel + Spa at 560 Westport Road in late 2013. It shut down in mid-June 2014 to begin the multimillion-dollar conversion to AC Hotels by Marriott Kansas City Westport.

AC Hotels was founded in Spain in 1998 and now has 83 hotels, all in urban areas. They are described as very upscale properties designed to attract the millennial generation who want smart design and the latest technology.

Industry experts said AC Hotels’ direct competition includes Starwood’s Aloft, which has a location in Leawood, and Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza.

“AC is Marriott’s play for the millennial market. It is a growing market, it also is a market that has interests that are different than other brands — design-forward, technology-forward, and focused on convenience and self-service. And they bring that European cachet,” said Chekitan Dev, an associate professor in marketing and branding at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and author of “Hospitality Branding.”

Dev said brand loyalty is not yet solidified with millennials, so Marriott hopes to catch them early with a friendly, well-designed point of entry to its brands and then keep them as they make more money and perhaps have a family and move up to more full-service brands.

AC Hotels by Marriott Kansas City Westport, which is being operated by Interstate Hotels & Resorts, will have a white and gray facade, a reconfigured lobby/lounge area on the first floor with Italian marble floors, and contemporary designs in the 123 guest rooms.

The AC Lounge is set to be a Westport gathering place and will focus on local craft beers, a signature specialty cocktail featuring Lenexa-based Dark Horse Distillery whiskey on tap, wines on tap and small plates.

It will have 61 single rooms, 60 double, and two junior suites with king-size beds and pull-out sofa beds. The color palette is mostly soothing grays with hardwood floors in the sleeping rooms and Italian marble tile in the bathrooms. The rooms feature an open layout so guests can see into the vanity area and closet. Even the minibar has a glass door.

The rooms also will be stocked with plush robes, hair dryers, Grohe rainshower heads and AC brand bath products featuring neroli oil, as well as teas and Italian coffee.

AC Hotels by Marriott also will offer mobile check-in, USB charging stations, the AC Library (with magazines, computers, and wireless printer and a communal table with ergonomic chairs), a fitness center, two “media salons” featuring Bluetooth technology for business meetings, free Wi-Fi throughout the property, Italian iced coffee and European-influenced breakfast with croissants, sweet and savory tarts, fresh fruit and a cereal assortment, as well as a selection of meats, cheeses and pastries.

Rates will be $179 to $229 depending on the day of the week and the season.

“We plan to be competitive with rates on the Plaza and downtown,” said Corey Ringh, director of sales and marketing.

A first-floor retail shop also will feature Christoper Elbow chocolates and other locally produced specialty foods and drinks, along with wines.

AC Hotels are next scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in March, Miami Beach, Fla., in April and Chicago in May.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to jsmith@kcstar.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC.

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