The Largest Expansion in the Southwest — Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Q&A with Heidi Grant, Executive Officer Gaming & Hospitality, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

We recently caught up with Heidi Grant to talk about the largest casino expansion in the Southwest happening at Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant, which will be revealed in the summer of 2021. This expansion is a 19-story tower with 1,000 more luxury hotel rooms, an expanded gaming floor and new amenities, such as a new pool, parking gaage, retail space and entertainment and dining options. Make sure that you catch the corresponding video article with the builder and architect by clicking here.

Share with us some design features or amenities that you believe will be very unique and surprising for guests of Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant.

The design of the Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant expansion project is centered around a seamless guest experience. We will have a beautiful resort that is built around endless intrigue and convenience for each guest. It is important for us that once the guest engages at the property that we are giving them the inspiration to author a story that is uniquely theirs.

We utilized our guest listening platform to discover what is important to them in hotel rooms, public spaces, dining venues, etc. We incorporated their voice into the amenities that they would be consuming. With the guest experience in mind, we have then set the tone for a property that is based on discovery, giving the guest the opportunity to build upon their story as they make their way through the property. We have three very unique elements driven around guest socialization and experience: 

The first is our grand staircase that is anchored in by one of our dynamic bars just underneath our new 1832 Steakhouse. The second is Prizm. This is a visual anchor in the middle of our casino floor that will be a social hub and beacon, no matter your location in the expansion. Our third location is Aqua, our new tropical escape that sits on three acres with two beautiful pools, a water slide, 50 cabanas, fire pits and four bars.

 

The “new” tower, the “old” tower, the “really old” tower … from a marketing perspective, how do you address your guest’s perception of “where the fun is” or “where the best rooms are”?

Each of our three towers offers our guests a unique experience solely based on location. For example, our Spa is conveniently located on the first floor of the Spa Tower. The Grand Tower is centered in the middle of the property and has a variety of well-appointed suites.

 

What does a room built in 2021 look like? What new technology have you added? Have you integrated any green initiatives? What have you learned from the building of three towers in terms of design features that are critical to a guest today? 

Natural light, ease of use, convenience and comfort were themes that were present as we approached our room design. With a focus on spatial quality, customized case goods and expansive views, the guest rooms have been designed to welcome guests and give them a retreat from the dynamic energy of the casino below. 

The radius of the tower curves is strategically evaluated in order to minimize construction premiums, minimize operational inefficiencies and maximize guest experience and views, with centralized access from the tower down into the casino.

The ability to have a connected experience is vital for our guests, thus we have all the modern conveniences that you would expect in a luxury hotel room, such as WiFi, digital keys, charging ports, etc. The room of today is similar to the room of tomorrow, since it must have a comfortable bed and the ability to shut out the world with blackout drapes. Additionally, we prioritized the “getting ready” experience, from considering the outlet placement at each mirror for convenience, to a well-lit bathroom mirror at a cooler temperature conducive to feeling confident while getting ready for an Instagram-worthy moment downstairs on the casino floor.

 

Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant will expand from 780 total rooms to 1,600 total rooms. You anticipate that this will add on 1,000 more jobs. Prior to COVID-19, many casinos were finding it hard to attract and retain quality team members; what is the landscape like in southern Oklahoma, and will it be a challenge to fill those positions?

North Texas is one of the fastest growing markets in the country. Our attention to finding and retaining talent is a priority at all times. It is a focus currently and will be well beyond the opening of the new tower. Choctaw has had continued success during a downturn. We are looking at it as an opportunity to find talent, while other businesses in the hospitality industry have struggled.

 

What other aspects of the operation will be impacted by nearly doubling your room size? We’ve addressed staffing, but how about laundry services, kitchen, traffic, etc.? 

The Nation’s laundry will be addressed through an off-site, centralized laundry facility for economies of scale across our hospitality assets. The laundry facility will open three to four months prior to the grand opening to draw upon a transition of current laundry and add in the new need of the expansion, and it will also create more jobs for the Choctaw Nation. The development needs are met by a very robust dock and warehouse that was developed into the program of the expansion. This central warehouse will be the heartbeat that services the additional amenities brought on with this project.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is also working on a major expansion project for the highway in front of the resort. We have been closely working with them on their development that borders our property to ensure limited disruption and proper flow into the new entrance, valet and parking garage servicing the expansion.

To find out more about this project and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, go to https://www.choctawnation.com/

 

 

Christine Faria
Christine Faria 28 Articles