Tourists will have a new place to stay in Tahlequah soon, as Promise Hotels hosted a ground-breaking for its new Tru by Hilton at Cherokee Springs Plaza Monday.
Once completed, the hotel will be four stories tall and have 90 rooms. Sitting next to the newly built Cherokee casino, set to open in May, the construction of the hotel comes after Tahlequah voters opted to increase lodging tax on hotels and motels in September 2018.
Promise Hotels President and CEO Pete Patel said the facility will put tax dollars into the community, among "bigger things."
"It means more tourism for this community and that's the magic word - tourism - and we are so proud of that," said Patel. "Tourism is one of the biggest - it is the largest employer in the area, and when the hotel is completed we will created hundreds of jobs, either construction or permanent jobs for the community."
The Tru by Hilton will have 2,880 square feet of mixed-use lobby space, where guests can work, play and eat. It will feature digital check-in and room selection, digital keys, and complimentary Wi-Fi. It also will have an "Eat. & Sip." market, a multifunctional fitness center, and a build-your-own breakfast bar called "Top It."
The Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce endorsed the incentive hotel tax ordinance last year, and TACC President Cindy Morris said the hotel adds to the city's growing tourism industry.
"The addition of the Tru Hilton will definitely be an added benefit to our growing tourism industry here in Tahlequah," said Morris. "Just recently in the past month, we received our lodging tax reports … We're proud to announce that tax collection is up 17 percent over last year, and part of that is due to all of the activity taking place in the Cherokee Nation, all the building, but also visitors and the promotion we are doing to better put Tahlequah out there in the surrounding states."
The hotel is part of the Cherokee Nation's mission to draw more business and visitors into the Tahlequah area. Before the tribe began developing Cherokee Springs Plaza, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the field was home to grazing cattle. It has become a section of town that features restaurants, a car dealership and the new casino, but Baker envisions more.
"We do have an opportunity here," said Baker. "Not only this 90 rooms, but some more rooms in the future. Tahlequah is a place that is on the move."
One of the features at the Cherokee Casino is a large ballroom with 33,000 square feet. The tribe plans to host conventions and group conferences that will in turn create guests for the hotel.
Lisa Billy, former Oklahoma House representative for District 42, attended the ground-breaking, and she said she'll be returning to Tahlequah once the hotel is finished.
"I look forward to coming back and spending a night here so we can go float the river, as my son who came with me said, 'Mom, I need my fishing pole so we can go,'" said Billy. "So we'll be back to spend a night, and we'll bring our fishing poles with us."
Check it out
For more information about the Cherokee Springs Plaza, visit www.CherokeeSpringsPlaza.com.