|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
December 8, 2009 --The venerable Raphael Hotel has completed a $10 million renovation, restoring the historic building, adding a fitness club and meeting space and slightly increasing the number of guest rooms.
"We literally have gone from the rooftop to near the basement," said Mike Prekel, the general manager of the hotel at 325 Ward Parkway.
"We rebuilt the backbone of the hotel, as well," Prekel added, referring to the building's electrical, plumbing and other infrastructure.
The renovation began small in 2006, when the hotel's new owner, Lighthouse Properties of Salina, began updating bathrooms. It soon was decided that a more exhaustive overhaul was required.
The Gettys Group of Chicago was hired as the architect for the renovation, which was required to meet historic preservation standards.
The Raphael was built in 1927 as a nine-story apartment building near the then-new Country Club Plaza. It was converted to a 123-room hotel in 1975.
Prekel said special care was taken to preserve the lobby and other public spaces. The hotel restaurant reopened earlier this year as the Chaz Restaurant and Lounge on the Plaza.
For the first time, the hotel also has a fitness club and meeting space. Three guest rooms were added, bringing the total to 126.
"We've positioned ourselves to be ready for the next 10 years," Prekel said.
Earlier this year, Travel & Leisure magazine recognized the Raphael as one of the top 500 hotels in the world. The Expedia travel Web site ranked it in the top 1 percent of hotels worldwide, and the National Park Service listed the property on the National Register of Historic Places.
To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
To see more of The Kansas City Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.kansascity.com.
Copyright (c) 2009, The Kansas City Star, Mo.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA. NASDAQ-NMS:EXPE,