The Artesian marks five years in August
SULPHUR — A stately hotel can be seen through the summer foliage of oaks, elms and other trees on a hilltop within the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
With winding creeks and pools of water fed from freshwater and mineral springs, the area is full of natural beauty.
As you step into The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa in downtown Sulphur, the broad pillars, polished porcelain and granite floors and luxurious design catch your attention. The entrance is both welcoming and impressive. The use of natural woods and stone can be seen throughout the resort, interweaving the feel of the region's natural resources.
This month, The Artesian celebrates its fifth anniversary, but the fairly young hotel is steeped in history, dating back to its 1906 predecessor, the Winston Hotel.
This was not the first stay at The Artesian for my husband and me, so we were already looking forward to a child-free getaway, even if it was for one night.
We were not disappointed. We were greeted with a quick tour of the grounds and learned that the hotel has a spacious banquet room suitable for meetings, conferences and wedding receptions. The hotel also has a wellness spa that provides massage, facials, hair styling and a wide range of offerings.
An indoor/outdoor pool area allows guests to swim from the enclosed pool to the exterior waters. Nearby is the Bathhouse, reminiscent of the natural sulphur springs health spa with its warm bubbling waters and cascading falls down the surface of a rock wall.
We had a lot to experience in a short time. And after seeing the pool and bathhouse, I remembered I had forgotten my swimsuit. A quick trip to the high-end, but affordable shops along the exterior of the hotel property remedied this omission. I found a one-piece, as well as a pair of earrings at Luxe.
Then, it was time to go to Springs restaurant at The Artesian. Dress was casual and the staff greeted and seated us promptly to view the extensive menu of various entrees, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
I chose the stuffed tilapia, which was filled with crab meat, smothered with a garlic butter sauce and placed atop a mound of mashed potatoes, per my request. The side of grilled asparagus was as delicious as the tender tilapia.
My husband selected a 12-ounce rib-eye topped with crab, asparagus and bearnaise sauce. He chose a side of bourbon-glazed carrots. I must admit I tried his steak and carrots and they were wonderful!
We ended the meal with creme brulee and turtle cheesecake mousse. The berries atop the creme brulee brought a freshness to the delectably sweet treat. The mousse was decadent with caramel dripping down the sides of the glass.
After our filling meals, we weren't ready to swim just yet, so we ventured into the attached casino to try our luck on the slot machines. We have never been heavy gamblers, but I do enjoy a light indulgence of sitting in front of the electronic "one-armed bandits" and pushing buttons, hoping for a barrage of flashing lights and sounds. There was plenty of shine, spins and musical effects to stimulate an eagerness to win. But on this night, we walked away with the satisfaction of being entertained, not of filling our pockets.
Then, it was on to the bathhouse. I'm not as much of a fan of hot tubs as my husband, but when I stepped into the warm waters, I could feel tension begin to disperse. About 20 people is the maximum occupancy for the large bath, but there were never a lot of people in the churning waters, which contributed to a more relaxing soak. The design of the hot tub includes smaller circular alcoves where two to four people can sit comfortably, providing more intimate settings, as opposed to a typical round pool.
We decided to forego a dip in the cooler waters of the indoor/outdoor pool and retire to our room for a good night's rest in preparation for our spa treatments the next morning.
On the walls along the way to our room were framed photos of the nearby Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
Our spacious suite was very appealing, with a plush, comfortable bed, nice sitting area, a sampling of Bedre chocolates and a large bathroom with tub and separate shower. The bathroom floor included a round ceramic or stone tile design that continued into the shower.
In the bathroom and main area of our suite were historic photos related to the hotel and Sulphur area. The hotel's attempt to connect with history was not lost on me, since I saw these images as a nice touch, a throwback to Oklahoma's early past.
From some rooms, you can look out over the nearby park, see the Chickasaw Visitor Center or peer down on the ARTesian Gallery and Art Studios, as well as take in some beautiful sunsets.
The next morning, we returned to Springs, this time ordering pancakes, as well as an omelet, although our appetites were lighter than the night before. And then on to two hours of pampering at the Sole'renity Spa.
As we left the hotel after noon, we discussed how guests should really stay more than one night to truly enjoy the amenities of the hotel and surrounding area, already planning a future stay, perhaps around the holidays.
This will be the fifth year for the resort's Classic Christmas that will greet guests with holiday decor and a celebration of music, entertainment, lights and more.
Before heading home, though, we stopped for a wine-tasting at the Rusty Nail Winery, 218 W Muskogee Ave., and shopped some of the other nearby businesses in downtown Sulphur.
We also explored the trails and flowing creeks and natural pools within the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The stay at The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa had been a quick drive from Oklahoma City that had provided us with a much-needed escape.
Lodging, meals and amenities were provided by The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa.
History of the Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa
1906: Sulphur Springs entrepreneurs J.M. Bayless and C.J. Webster open the elegant New Winston Hotel, later named The Artesian.
1907: The hotel is a magnet for fashionable guests, including Oklahoma’s first governor, Charles Haskell, who used the resort as his “summer White House.”
1962: The original Artesian Hotel is destroyed by fire on the evening of Jan. 14, 1962. In its place, the Artesian Motor Hotel is constructed.
1972: The Chickasaw Nation buys the Artesian Motor Hotel and changes the name to Chickasaw Motor Inn. The purchase marks the Chickasaw Nation’s first business venture. The building would become the headquarters for Chickasaw Nation government operations.
2006: As part of the Chickasaw Nation’s “Phoenix Project” in the Sulphur area, the Chickasaw Motor Inn is cleared to make way for a new hotel project.
2010: Construction begins on a new hotel and spa.
2013: The Artesian Hotel, Casino and Spa opens its doors on Aug. 2, 2013, with much of the town in attendance to celebrate the occasion.
2018: The Artesian celebrated its fifth anniversary on Aug. 2, 2018.
81 — Number of guest rooms in the hotel.
500,000 — Number of guests who have visited hotel.
101,000 — Number of hotel rooms booked.
33,500 — Number of guests receiving spa services.
37,000 — Square feet of carpet in guest rooms.
SOURCE: Koch Communications