By SEAN ROWLEY
During a short ceremony Wednesday afternoon in an open field north of Reasor’s, plans were announced to build a new hotel that will increase Tahlequah’s lodging capacity by 80 rooms.
Promise Hotels of Tulsa will open a Holiday Inn Express in the lot on the northwest corner of Mahaney Avenue and Reasor Street. The company wants to break ground before Thanksgiving.
“Our company has nine hotels that we own and operate,” said Pete Patel, president and CEO of Promise Hotels. “We want to open two more hotels, and Tahlequah is one of the markets we want to enter.”
The hotel will feature an indoor pool, sauna, fitness center and a meeting room that will accommodate about 80-plus people.
The new Holiday Inn Express will not be affiliated with the hotel at 701 Holiday Drive.
“When a brand gets to be about 15 years old - which is about the age of the other hotel - it no longer fits the current model,” Patel said. “That’s actually typical. [Holiday Inn] was looking for a new product. We were able to secure the franchise.”
Patel said putting the hotel near the intersection of South Muskogee Avenue and the highway loop was ideal.
“We like to be around retail and restaurants,” he said. “This is basically a four corners of retail and restaurants, and we believe we are on the prime corner.”
Mayor Jason Nichols said the city of Tahlequah welcomed the new hotel and its parent company.
“Pete has a long and successful career in the hospitality industry,” Nichols said. “His company has a proven track record, having owned or operated many, many hotel properties in the region. We look forward to having them open for business in Tahlequah.”
David Moore, president of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, said discussions began in March to bring a new hotel into town.
“From the beginning, Pete has been very enthusiastic about coming to Tahlequah,” Moore said. “The chamber is proud to welcome him, his experience and talent, and his hotel to Tahlequah. We anticipate the day when the ribbon is cut on what we know will be a first-class hotel.”
Speakers at the ceremony included Patel, his wife Tina, Moore, Warren Ross of The Ross Group, Nichols and Northeastern State University President Steve Turner, who said NSU was enthusiastic about additional hotel space in Tahlequah.
Patel echoed Turner’s sentiment, believing the hotel could benefit the university’s athletic department.
“Firstly, we love Tahlequah because it is such a great leisure market with so much recreation,” Patel said.
“Additionally, we think NSU is not being served because of the limited hotel space. We believe some of the visiting athletic teams and fans are going to Muskogee. Adding this can help facilitate athletics in the city. It could help NSU bid on athletic events in the future.”