Checking in Artesian Hotel’s Successful First Year

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Checking in Artesian Hotel’s successful first year

By Linda Miller

It has been just over a year since the new Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa opened in Sulphur, some 12 miles east of well-traveled I-35, and the numbers tell the story.

This ornate, luxurious and inviting hotel complex is off to a successful start.

“I believe that it surprised everyone,” said Nick Starns, Artesian area general manager. Well, maybe not some of the visionaries within the Chickasaw Nation, he added, but when you step out there and create something that has a historical tie to it in a beautiful part of Oklahoma, you have to believe that ultimately people will come and check it out.

They did and they are … again and again.

Many come because they visited or remembered the original, elegant Artesian Hotel built in 1906 and its popularity with travelers, Hollywood stars and politicians. Many came during the summer because of the proximity of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, just a stone’s throw from the hotel. It’s always a big draw for the area, and now for the hotel. And others come because they hear it’s a jewel.

Starns said repeat bookings ensure staying power, and response has far exceeded expectations. Hotel bookings are in excess of 80 percent occupancy for the first year, and 95 percent from March through August. Thousands of people come into the area for the sheer beauty of the park, nearby Arbuckle Lake, Chickasaw Cultural Center, Turner Falls, Bedre Chocolates and other attractions.

The Chickasaw Nation had the foresight to add a top-notch hotel complex in the mix, Starns said. That makes a visit even more attractive for vacationing families, couples who want a romantic weekend or anyone preferring an easy getaway about 90 minutes from Oklahoma City and two hours from Dallas. He said a majority of visitors come from those two metros because they like the short drive, the option for a quick escape. Not to mention the hotel’s restaurant, lounge, indoor/outdoor pool, spa, indoor bathhouse, casino and numerous shops.

“Our spa facility has received absolutely rave reviews. Just absolutely glowing recommendations,” Starns said.

Now the Artesian is looking to build on the success of its first year with different promotional aspects, as well as community activities and involvement.

Starns said the hotel complex is making an economic impact in the area with upwards of 300 to 400 new jobs affecting two to three nearby communities.

“It makes a profound impact bringing in tourism, revitalizing towns, supporting families, and that grows the community,” he said. “It has been an amazing thing to watch. People are more active, more involved.”

As an example, he cites the inaugural Artesian Arts Festival held in late May. It featured live entertainment, food vendors and the works of 40 Chickasaw and Southeastern tribal artists. The success of the festival really caught the attention of city leaders and was popular with visitors, he said. The Christmas season will bring even more fun.

The original Artesian burned in 1962 and was eventually replaced with a motor inn. The Chickasaw Nation purchased it in the early 1970s, and now in its place is the new hotel, complete with a similar design including the distinctive corner turrets. Inside, the 81-room hotel is grand and lavish with massive columns, marble floors, tin ceilings and recurring themes of wood and water that hint at the past. An artesian well was discovered on the property and minerals springs once dotted Sulphur.

With any new hotel, there’s going to be hiccups, but it was an outstanding summer starting with spring break, Starns said.

“We’re thrilled to be able to serve our guests. We want to offer an outstanding product that people want to come back to,” he said.

For more information, call (855) 455-5255 or go online to artesianhotel.com.

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