SULPHUR — As hundreds of guests waited patiently to get inside Friday morning, Chickasaw Nation officials cut the ribbon and opened the Artesian Hotel, an 81-room boutique hotel and casino that replaces a 1906 hotel that was one of the state’s top tourist attractions and social epicenter of southern Oklahoma.
The hotel is on the site of the original Artesian, just outside the gates of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, formerly known as Platt National Park. It’s also a short distance from the public park and springs where travelers come to bottle and take home the mineral water that locals say has healing powers.
The hotel design reflects the original hotel. That structure burned in January of 1962 and a Chickasaw Motor replaced it. The Chickasaw Nation purchased the hotel in 1972, the first business owned and operated by the tribe.
The hotel features more than 140,000 square feet, a traditional bathhouse, casino, banquet room, indoor-outdoor pool, fitness center, spa, retail shops and restaurants.
“This new hotel is designed to pay tribute to the past while celebrating the future,” said Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby. “More than 100 years ago, the Artesian served as a destination for thousands of tourists who flocked to this area for the natural beauty and refreshing waters of the springs and streams. Looking at the elegant exterior takes you back to the days when the governor of Oklahoma would spend his summers here and actors such as Dale Evans, Roy Rogers and John Wayne came to the Artesian to enjoy the unique combination of luxury and small town charm.”