By K.J. WEBB
MARLIN KERANEN: The Crowne Plaza Hotel general manager praises the recent accomplishments of downtown Tulsa.
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Marlin Keranen, the general manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tulsa, has been keeping busy since his arrival in the city a little over two years ago. Keranen supervised the extensive $23 million renovation of the hotel that, he says, is a part of the wonderful rejuvenation that downtown Tulsa has experienced in the past few years.
“Downtown Tulsa has really started to take off,” says Keranen. “The Center and the offer a tremendous variety of entertainment options throughout the year, and the Brady Arts District, the Blue Dome District and the Greenwood District have multiple venues for dining and entertainment. The Crowne Plaza is ideally located for visitors to downtown since we’re conveniently located to everything going on. Downtown Tulsa is a great place to be.”
Keranen has become a good judge of cities over the course of his career. With 32 years in hotel administration, the last 28 of them in general management, Keranen has enjoyed a long a successful career in the field. When asked how he got into the industry, Keranen says, “It was actually by accident. Back in 1977, I was going to college and saw an ad for a night auditor at a Holiday Inn in Billings, Montana, and thought that would be a good way to work and study, thinking I could get the audit done and then study. No one told me I would be alone all night, so I was too busy to get any studying done. Two months later they offered me a promotion and as the saying goes, ‘the rest is history.’”
Tulsa is just one of the many cities he has worked in across the United States and in Canada.
Keranen and his wife Rose lived for 16 years in Toronto, where he managed a downtown Holiday Inn. He says his experience in Canada was interesting and instructive. “Working in Toronto provided the opportunity for me to get involved in organizations focused on business and downtown development, and I gained valuable experience in this area. I worked with the Toronto Convention and Visitors Bureau (), the Toronto Entertainment District Association (), and the City of Toronto in developing the heart and soul of the city, much like what we are doing now in Tulsa.”
When asked what he enjoys the most about his current position, he says, “The two most gratifying aspects of this job are making a positive impact on the stay of our guests while they are in the hotel, and helping staff members who are interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality business move ahead and achieve goals.”
Given the demands of his position and the recent multi-million dollar transformation of the Crowne Plaza, Keranen says he hasn’t had very much free time to enjoy all the wonderful things Tulsa has to offer. “As my wife has not joined me on a full time basis yet, I’ve concentrated on the hotel and helping in any way I can in promoting downtown. One of the most enjoyable aspects of living in Tulsa is the energy and excitement that is being spent on reviving the downtown area,” he says.
Keranen says the revival of downtown Tulsa has been good for business, and the renovation of the hotel has had a beneficial impact as well. “After the renovation we saw the increase in business we had hoped and planned for. The response to our renovation has been incredibly positive. The hotel renovation and the wonderful opportunities for entertainment and enjoyment downtown has positioned the Crowne Plaza as a leading hotel in the Tulsa area.”
Keranen’s outlook on Downtown Tulsa’s growth and development is positive. “I see nothing but great things in the future for downtown Tulsa,” he says. “We’ve seen a great impact from the Center. We have new entertainment venues, some wonderful new restaurants, and soon, the new ONEOK Field.”
He adds, “Downtown Tulsa now has hockey, basketball, baseball and football for all of the sports fans that we have here in Tulsa. The keeps bringing in great Broadway entertainment in addition to our world class Opera and Ballet. It seems like every day there is another announcement about something new coming to downtown Tulsa.”
He attributes the positive development to what he considers Tulsa’s major strength: a community with great opportunities due to the variety of foundations and trusts that so willingly provide funding for so many important projects that Tulsa needs to grow.
Keranen enthusiastically encourages Tulsans and the greater area residents to take advantage of what downtown Tulsa has to offer, “There is plenty of parking, it is one of the safest places in the city, and most of all, it’s so easy to make a full evening and night of entertainment and fun. We hope to see you soon.”