The boutique hotel in downtown Topeka remains locally owned
| Topeka Capital-Journal
Topeka’s first boutique hotel is becoming a member of the Marriott brand.
Cyrus Hotel, at 920 S. Kansas Ave. in downtown Topeka, will soon be included in Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio, a collection of about 55 properties across the globe that remain independent boutique hotels but take advantage of the international hospitality company’s branding and network.
That news was announced Friday by AIM Strategies, the Topeka-based investment group that owns the Cyrus, and Coury Hospitality, the hotel’s new management company that has a regional office in Kansas City, Mo. According to a news release, the Cyrus will officially join Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio in April.
According to Cody Foster, founder of AIM Strategies, the ownership structure of Cyrus won’t change.
“It’s all us local investors that still own it,” he said. “So it’s just instead of being a completely independent, no flags hotel, we’ll come under Marriott’s flag with their Tribute series. … The name will remain the same. Nothing changes from that standpoint.”
Foster said one of the big perks of becoming part of the Marriott brand is that the Cyrus will now get to leverage the company’s hospitality expertise, including taking advantage of Marriott’s reservation system, dynamic pricing model and global marketing.
It will also allow members of Marriott’s loyalty program to leverage their rewards points at the Cyrus, which Foster expects will result in more business travelers staying in downtown Topeka. And that is a demographic, he added, that the Cyrus has struggled to attract.
“I think it will be a big deal going forward,” Foster said. “A lot of people, myself included and a lot of friends I know, if they’re going to a city and they’re a big Marriott points person, that’s what they look for.”
According to Foster, the decision to join the Marriott circle has been a while in the making. It is something Cyrus’ owners considered before COVID-19, he said, but the pandemic slowed things down.
Foster said he was comparing notes with the owner of the Ambassador Hotel in Kansas City in late 2019. That hotel also started as an independent boutique hotel, he said, but the owner eventually became convinced that migrating to Marriott was the way to go.
“He kind of walked me through the numbers of just how much it had increased (business),” Foster said. “He was like, ‘I thought it would take a while, but the day we changed, our occupancy went up 20%. And our room rate went up 25%.’ He was like, ‘We were getting more people, and they were paying a higher price.’ …
“It has just cemented for us that this is the smart move to make.”
He added that he hopes the Cyrus stays at the top of the local market but remains a great value for people. Cyrus Hotel, named after Topeka co-founder Cyrus K. Holliday, first opened in January 2019, and pieces of Topeka’s history can be spotted throughout the eight-story building.
To become a part of the Marriott brand, Cyrus management is making some minor changes in order to adhere to the company’s standards, such as putting certain signage in the hotel’s hallways and improving the lighting in some bathrooms. Foster said they are also working to create a more grand hotel entrance.
“The real big lift is going to be the systems — the technology transfer over and reservation systems,” he said. “We’re using Marriott’s system now instead of what we had installed.”
Another change already in effect that was related to the shift to Marriott is the Cyrus’ new management, Coury Hospitality, which operates more than 25 hotels and restaurants across eight different markets. Most of those hotels are associated with Marriott’s “soft brands,” such as the Tribute series.
“By number of soft brands with Marriott, we’re the largest operator,” said Paul Coury, owner of Coury Hospitality. “Within that, of our hotels that are open, we have three that are in the top 10 rated of all 200 Autograph (Collection Hotels, another of Marriott’s soft brands), and one of them has been ranked No. 1 for three years.”
Foster said Coury Hospitality’s presence in the Kansas City area and the company’s previous experience working with Marriott were big draws.
“They have such a deep experience level with Marriott that we thought it made a lot of sense,” Foster said.
Coury Hospitality will also oversee The Weather Room, the Cyrus Hotel’s restaurant and bar, as it expands its hours and gets back to full capacity.
During the pandemic, The Weather Room decreased its hours, serving dinner only four nights a week. But there are plans to begin serving dinner again seven nights a week, and there may be a few new entrées appearing soon on the menu.
“Food and beverage is a big, big part of being successful with these types of properties,” Coury said. “Over the next year, we’ll be launching some initiatives to help make it even better.”
According to Foster, he and his fellow investors likely wouldn’t be making this change at the Cyrus unless they were confident momentum was beginning to return to downtown Topeka.
Though the past year has been tough for Cyrus Hotel, The Pennant and Iron Rail Brewing — all of which are located downtown and owned by AIM Strategies — Foster said business has started to return these last few weeks, and he expects that to continue with Kansas legislators back in town for the 2021 legislative session.
“Once things return to normal, I think there’s going to be such big pent-up demand of people wanting to get back out and connect with people in person,” he said. “As all of this comes back online, hopefully we can build that momentum back quickly. … Each week has gotten better.”