By CHARLES CANTRELL
HEART OF DOWNTOWN: The Crowne Plaza Hotel, at left foreground, is positioned strategically in downtown Tulsa within walking distance to key destinations. In the background is the BOK Center, and to the right are the Bank of Oklahoma Tower and the Williams Learning Resouce Center, which connect to the Crowne Plaza. Next to the Crowne Plaza on the left is the Williams Center II, which also houses the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
MICHAEL WEDEL, Photos-Now, for GTR Newspapers
Tulsa’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 100 E. Second St. in the epicenter of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, brands itself as “The Place to Meet.” It’s one thing to make that promise to Green Country residents and worldwide travelers, but quite another to keep that promise. As things appear now, the hotel is poised to deliver the goods in big ways, but it has taken resources, vision, commitment and a prevailing optimism in the future of downtown Tulsa to get there.
Marlin Keranen, general manager of the hotel, has been overseeing the $20-million renovation of the 30-year-old structure by Ascension Hotels of Louisiana, and he is anxious for the Aug. 15 completion date for the many improvements underway.
“The soon-to-open BOK Center is spawning a lot of interest by the hospitality industry around the arena. Not only are we way ahead of the game with our renovation, but the things we are doing will make Crowne Plaza very market competitive for years to come. And our location is a big asset making us the most convenient hotel to all that is happening downtown,” says Keranen.
To understand what Keranen is saying, one need only walk out the north entrance of The Crowne Plaza Hotel on Second Street and look west to see the looming BOK Center a short stroll away. Even closer to the east, between First and Second Streets on Cincinnati, is One Technology Center, the new location of City Hall offices. Add to this the recent approval by the City Council for funding of the new Driller Park scheduled for completion in 2010, and it becomes obvious that the hotel is well situated to serve the hospitality needs these downtown projects will require. Downtowners are also seeing evidence of a growing nightlife in the Brady and Blue Dome Districts with the opening of several new eating and entertainment establishments all close to the hotel.
Most of the Crowne Plaza renovation is in the last stages of completion and will include a spectacular patio with seating overlooking the Williams Green. The large patio running along the east side of the building will be accessible from the hotel’s recently completed Starbucks coffee shop and from the nearly completed Daily Grill franchise restaurant. Daily Grills by Grill Concepts Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif., are known for their “American big city grill” look and feel. Most are located in larger metropolitan markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Dallas where they have enjoyed great success. For Crowne Plaza and Tulsa to get a nationally renowned Daily Grill is quite a coup for this size market. The restaurant is on schedule to open Aug 15.
According to Keranen, “The Daily Grill will be a great new dining experience for this market and the patio dining overlooking the Williams Green will be very popular and a super venue for business and social get-togethers.”
With the room renovation completed on all but the top three floors of the 462-room hotel, work is well along on what will be the crowning touch of the new Crowne. The top three “Club Floors” will feature amenities equal to or surpassing those expected in the world’s finest hotels. Hard access, turndown service, private staff, club lounge access and a host of other special amenities await guests who prefer true luxury hotel accommodations. In fact, the Chairman’s Suite with its 2,310 total square feet on the 15th floor will boost a separate master bedroom, bar area, patio, and double walk-in shower and provide the largest hotel suite available in the region. The variety of room options will attract a wide range for local and traveling guests
The hotel’s re-imagined lounge area will be a great destination for get-togethers by virtue of its retro concept harkening back to those vintage hotel days when guests and locals alike gathered in well-appointed comfortable sitting areas for cocktails and conversation and often to dine in the lounge should the notion strike them. In the case of the Crowne Plaza, lounge diners would be selecting from the menu of the Daily Grill restaurant. Talk about the place to meet and eat.
If Tulsans need a big place to meet, Crowne Plaza is ready with 38,000 square feet of world-class meeting, event and banquet accommodations second to none. It also includes two elegant ballrooms with the capacity to accommodate up to 1,400 guests.
Rounding out the list of hotel amenities is a convenient on-site Enterprise car rental service; a Tulsa Federal Employees Credit Union office providing ATM, notary and other banking services for guests; the expansion of the Elements Day Spa and a very unique gift shop. There remains 1,500 square feet of retail space available for lease in the hotel. Keranen envisions a pharmacy such as Walgreen’s fitting well into the mix.
As the revitalization of downtown moves forward and Tulsans grow more excited about the opening of the BOK Center arena, the growing nightlife in downtown and the eventual completion of the Driller’s new stadium, Crowne Plaza Hotel is right in step and right in the middle of it all working hard to complete Tulsa’s premier place to meet.