A newly refurbished hotel that will add 221 rooms to downtown Tulsa will do so with a nod toward minimizing its impact on the environment.
The Holiday Inn Tulsa--City Center is scheduled to open in the middle of the month at 17 W. Seventh Street in a building that was constructed in 1965 as--coincidentally--a Holiday Inn. Since then, the near 150,000-square-foot structure has housed a number of other hotels before it was purchased in May 2009 by the Springfield, Mo., firm OHT IV LLC for $6.7 million. Noble Hospitality of Kansas City was contracted to manage the new hotel, which it will operate as a Holiday Inn franchise and oversee its $11.5 million renovation that began in July 2009.
The newly refurbished hotel's green initiatives are designed to appeal to a specific class of traveler that is getting an increased amount of attention from the hospitality industry these days, according to general manager Jeff Keeley.
"It really got integrated into the hotel community when the owners saw they could save money by doing it," he said of the move toward green-friendly features. "It is new, but it's growing."
Kimberly Alsobrooks, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said many travelers now inquire about such features when making their plans. That's particularly true among representatives of government agencies and meeting planners, she said.
"There's definitely a segment of the market looking forward to that," she said. "And we're definitely happy to appeal to that market."
The Holiday Inn Tulsa--City Center's list of green initiatives is lengthy, topped by the replacement of each of the hotel's 315 single-pane windows with one-inch, insulated, green-tinted glass that is expected to result in major savings in heating and cooling operational costs and energy consumption.
A total of 225 toilets that used 3.6 gallons of water per flush have been replaced with dual-flush models that use only 0.8 gallons for liquids and 1.6 gallons for solids for an average of 0.96 gallons per flush--a change that is estimated to save 5.31 million gallons of water per year.
A variety of energy-efficient appliances, televisions, light bulbs and other equipment have been added throughout the hotel, while guest room furniture made from engineered wood--a recycled material--and carpet that is 100 percent recyclable are being employed, as well.
Additionally, the countertop for the bar at the Boulder Grill Restaurant, the hotel's eatery, is made of Richlite, an environmentally sustainable material consisting primarily of paper treated with resin that is baked to create a solid sheet.
But the most unique green feature at the hotel will be its rooftop pool, which is being converted to a salt water operation. Hotel officials said fewer artificial chemicals are needed to maintain proper water quality with a salt water pool.
While only a few of those initiatives likely will be noticeable to hotel guests, Keeley hopes his Holiday Inn--which is part of a relaunch of the brand nationwide--will offer a new alternative to travelers looking for accommodations in downtown Tulsa.
In recent years, the district has had few such options available, but with the recent reopening of the Mayo Hotel and the planned opening of the Courtyard by Marriott at Atlas Life in May, that is changing.
Keeley envisions the Holiday Inn fitting nicely into the market space between the so-called big-box hotels and the smaller, niche properties that are currently open downtown.
"There are larger hotels with more meeting space, but we'll be able to cater to different-size groups and provide more personal attention," he said.
In any event, the new hotel should help address the area's chronic shortage of rooms, he believes.
"This is something downtown Tulsa needs," he said. "With the opening of the BOK Center and the convention center, we really needed more rooms. There's going to be some competition with other hotels, but there's going to be some synergy, as well."
Keeley said the relative shortage of hotel rooms downtown has had a negative impact on Tulsa's ability to attract convention business.
"I think it's hurt a lot," he said. "We now have a 30,000-square-foot ballroom (at the convention center), but we don't have enough rooms to support that. It's a significant issue we've had to deal with for quite a while."
Alsobrooks said the newly refurbished hotel would represent a step up from what many travelers have come to expect from a Holiday Inn. The brand's relaunch features significantly upgraded standards that will give the property more of a boutique feel, she said, while Keeley expects the hotel to appeal to a corporate market instead of the vacationing family segment it was so strongly associated with in the past, as typified by the chain's Holidomes.
"They recognized it was time to change that image and go to a more upscale model," Keeley said of the Holiday Inn management.
The guest rooms and public areas of the Holiday Inn Tulsa--City Center will reflect that change, featuring a sleek but soothing atmosphere with contemporary furnishings and amenities designed to appeal to corporate travelers, including a fitness center, a business center, complimentary high-speed wireless internet service and a complimentary airport shuttle. The property includes a 157-space parking garage.
The hotel also will boast 12 suites, and the 15th floor will offer 17 rooms with balconies--a unique feature among downtown hotels, Keeley said. Those balconies facing the south present good views of many downtown church steeples and the Arkansas River, and Keeley envisions them being much in demand as prime viewing platforms for Tulsa's annual fireworks show on the Fourth of July.
A rooftop patio on the north side of the third floor will allow space for outdoor receptions and will be adjacent to the salt water pool, which will be enclosed in glass but feature a retractable roof.
Alsobrooks expects to see the Boulder Grill Restaurant become a popular gathering spot for Tulsa professionals. The eatery--which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner--will feature a tapas menu designed to appeal to the after-work crowd. There will be indoor seating for 112 people, with 40 seats offered outdoors on the patio at the busy corner of West 7th Street and Boulder Avenue.
Alsobrooks believes the Holiday Inn's proximity to the numerous churches that dot the southern end of downtown will help it appeal to the wedding reception market, and she said the hotel already has booked its first major convention--the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in July.
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