Sulphur — Opening ceremonies for the new Artesian Hotel Friday served as a symbol of county-wide efforts to increase tourism in the area. Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby was joined by many local officials and dignitaries who gathered to cut the ribbon on the Artesian Hotel.
The “new” Artesian honors the architecture of the original 1906 Artesian. The original hotel was an elegant destination for celebrities and dignitaries - the “social epicenter” of southern Oklahoma. The new luxury hotel and spa is built on the same historic corner as the original Artesian, 1001 W. First Street.
Like the original, the hotel is adjacent to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, known in 1906 as Platt National Park. The area is brimming with natural beauty and bubbling springs that draw thousands of visitors annually.
“Tourism has long been a major part of the Oklahoma economy and we believe this new hotel could play a significant role in Murray County’s efforts to increase tourism in this part of the state,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “The original Artesian was the centerpiece of the community for decades and it is easy to see how this new hotel could complement all the wonderful tourism opportunities this area has to offer.”
For more than a half-century, the original Artesian Hotel was a top tourist destination in Oklahoma. It attracted governors and movie stars until a devastating 1962 fire left only ashes and memories of the grand hotel.
The new, elegant Artesian encompasses more than 140,000 square feet. Guests will enjoy the broad array of first- class comforts and amenities.
The 81-room boutique hotel features a traditional bathhouse, the Springs Restaurant, a spacious banquet room, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and fitness center, the Fountain Club Lounge, full-service Sole’renity Spa the Artesian, and a variety of unique shops, cafés and restaurants.
‘Like A Phoenix’
The design of the new Artesian Hotel reflects the scale and grandeur of the original Artesian, from the distinctive turret-like towers to incorporation of significant natural elements including water, wood and rock features in the spa design.
“This new hotel is designed to pay tribute to the past while celebrating the future,” said Gov. 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.”
The banquet room is reminiscent of the original Artesian Ballroom, the site of countless dinners, proms, and receptions for guests such as Oklahoma Gov. Roy Turner and Western film star John Wayne.
Known as the “Citadel of Frontier Gentility,” the original hotel was one of the largest hotels in the state and served as the summer home to Oklahoma’s first governor, Charles Haskell.
The Artesian had one of the largest, ornate hotel lobbies in the west during the 1900s, complete with marble floors and mosaic tile. Massive columns greeted the thousands of guests who stayed at the hotel during its 56-year history. Some of the hotel’s early guests were Carrie Nation, President William Howard Taft, and Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray.
“In its heyday it was the place to go in the whole state,” longtime Sulphur resident Billie Holdridge said. “I met John Wayne at the Artesian and danced with him.”
The ornate structure provided a red-carpet stay for thousands who visited Sulphur’s mineral springs and southern Oklahoma’s natural resources.
Throughout its history, the Artesian was the social epicenter in southern Oklahoma, and a part of Sulphur died that cold winter night the Artesian burned.
“There was very little talking, everyone just had tears in their eyes,” Sulphur resident Jamie Sue Petitti said. “It was not just a building. It was part of our town.”
Luxury Meets Adventure
The new Artesian Hotel will enable guests to combine the thrill of exploring the great outdoors with the pampering of a world-class resort.
Many of Oklahoma’s notable tourist attractions, including American Indian culture, Oklahoma history, natural springs, swimming, golfing, hunting, boating, hiking and all the joys of nature, can be discovered in this area, known as “Chickasaw County.”
Next door to the Artesian, the Chickasaw Visitor Center, opening soon, will serve as a gateway to the many attractions in Chickasaw Country. The Visitor Center will also provide information and tell the story of Chickasaw National Recreation Area, the only national park established at the request of an American Indian tribe.
Other area attractions include the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Bedre Fine Chocolate, Cross Bar ATV Ranch, Donkey Zipline Adventure, Lake of the Arbuckles, Lake Murray and Turner Falls.
Attractions and information about Chickasaw Country excursions may be explored by visiting the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center, located at Exit 55 of I-35 in Davis, Okla., or by visiting www.chickasawcountry.com
The Artesian also sits on the site of the first business owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation - The Chickasaw Motor Inn. The Chickasaw Nation purchased the Artesian Motor Hotel in 1972.
After the Artesian Hotel burned in 1962, the modern 72-room Artesian Motor Hotel was built in 1965. The Chickasaw Nation made a winning bid of $139,000 for the “motor hotel” and renamed it the Chickasaw Motor Inn.
For years, the Chickasaw Motor Inn served as the meeting site for local civic clubs, and was a local favorite meeting spot for Sunday afternoon lunch. The Chickasaw Motor Inn also served as the tribal headquarters until the official Chickasaw Nation headquarters building in Ada was opened in 1977.
When the Chickasaw Nation purchased the Motor Inn there were only 25 tribal employees. Today the Chickasaw Nation employs more than 12,000. After more than three decades of service, the Chickasaw Motor Inn was razed in 2006 to make way for construction of the new Artesian Hotel.
For more information, visit Artesian Hotel’s website at artesianhotel.com or call (855) 455-5255. Artesian Accommodations and Amenities
• First-class guest accommodations - 81 plush rooms and uniquely themed suites.
• Springs Restaurant at the Artesian - a full-service restaurant with seating for 140 guests with an additional
dining area available on the outdoor patio. Features a traditional Oklahoma dinner menu, a full buffet Fridays
and Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays.
• A banquet room with a seating capacity of more than 200.
• Three meeting rooms and executive boardroom.
• Retail shops and vendor areas, featuring a variety of boutique shops and restaurants.
• A 24-hour fitness center.
• Indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
• An indoor bathhouse and spa offering a modern rejuvenating and cleansing experience.
• The Sole’renity Spa also includes whirlpool baths, manicure and pedicure services, private and couples
massage therapy rooms and features separate male and female dressing rooms and lounges.
• Little Soles is the children’s special event area with spa, catering and entertainment packages.
Shops at the Artesian
• Essentials – A standard hotel shop with travelers’ essentials.
• Luxe – Upscale boutique shopping with clothing, purses and accessories.
• Okie Twister Co. – Oklahoma Made Products.
• Pinkitzel – Candies, sweet treats, gifts, and specialty drinks.
• Sole’renity Spa – World-class spa featuring a selection of spa treatments.
• The Woodlands Emporium – Nature-themed gifts and décor.
• Chickasaw Tobacco Store – Convenience store.
• Bedre Café – The café offers a variety of sweet treats, freshly made deli sandwiches, specialty hot
coffees, fresh-fruit smoothies, hand-dipped ice cream cones, signature sundaes and shakes, and one-of- a-kind Bedré Fine Chocolate bars, crisps and meltaways.