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Tulsa's Ambassador Hotel

Tulsa’s Ambassador Hotel: Experience Luxury, History, and Revival

by | History, Places

A Luxurious Stay Between the Present and the Past

Tulsa’s Ambassador Hotel. The word timeless is a unique word that implies worth, history, and nostalgia. It’s a title that is earned, one might say, like the wisdom of the old. To be in its presence is to be taken back to a different era where the past was the present. People spoke differently, dressed in long-ago fashions, and listened to music that has long since left the airwaves. It was a time when a man named Patrick Hurley had an idea to provide a needed service for an evolving city.

When he authorized cornerstones to be laid for what would become Tulsa’s Ambassador Hotel, President Herbert Hoover’s words echoed on the radio: foam rubber and the game Bingo were just invented, milk was 39 cents per gallon, the words “eyeliner and penicillin” were first used in print, the Hoover Dam was signed into legislation, and the Great Depression threw the world into turmoil. Almost a century later, those foundational cornerstones Hurley commissioned have become a wise old historic property amid a city that is itself a historical icon among cities.

A Legacy of Luxury and History

“The history of this hotel is what makes this hotel special,” General Manager Delane McCoy said. He explained that its unique history sets it apart from other luxury hotels in Tulsa. This hotel has a rich history and has been part of the community for 95 years, McCoy explained. The Ambassador is a four-diamond luxury hotel which equates to exemplary service. In establishments with this rating, potential guests know its level of service is just as important, if not more, than its amenities.

The Ambassador’s unparalleled service is evident by their classification as the number one hotel in Tulsa by Trip Advisor. Not to mention one with a reputation that entices celebrity guests to sign the registry. No names were provided, but to the employees, all guests are celebrities once they enter the Ambassador.

The Ambassador’s Modern Resurrection

Patrick Hurley, a lawyer born in Indian Territory who would later serve on President Hoover’s cabinet, saw a need created by the influx of businessmen flocking to Tulsa in pursuit of oil wealth. They needed a place to stay while their homes were built. So, he had the idea to provide a luxury extended-stay residence for these men and their families. At this time, Tulsa was the oil capital of the United States, McCoy said, then quipping if he remembered his history correctly. Hurley’s idea was on target and his extended stay concept brought in customers and provided the burgeoning new hotel a great start toward success.

Interestingly, Hurley never stayed in the hotel he built or even saw it after completion. In its final year of construction, President Hoover chose him to be Secretary of War. Off to Washington, D.C., and his new post, he moved never to return to Tulsa. He continued ownership, however, until the late 1950s, maybe early 1960s, McCoy said.

It was then purchased by a development company and converted to commercial apartments for retired seniors. At some point later, it became a property of Catholic Charities but eventually closed its doors in 1987. The elegant rooms and bustling halls, once filled with the chatter of hope-to-be oil barons and seniors reminiscing about the adventures of their lives, would become only whispers of the past in empty and decaying rooms.

Vacant for nearly twelve years and in “pretty rough shape,” new life would once again find its way into those historical bones when Paul Coury and a group of investors bought the building, gave it a multi-million dollar renovation, resurrecting it back to its former glory. It opened its doors once again in 1999 as a boutique luxury hotel. This year marks the 25th anniversary of that reopening. Coury has retained ownership and used it as a cornerstone to build his vision in much the same way Hurley had done in 1929. Like Hurley, Coury seems to be building a legacy as well, with multiple unique hotels, restaurants, and bars under his banner Coury Hospitality.

Community and Excellence: The Heart of the Ambassador

In 2014 the Ambassador Hotel joined the elite Marriot Autograph Collection, making it one of 148 Autograph Collection hotels in that Marriot series within North America. These are hotels that all have an individual identity and leave a mark with a unique point of distinction and a singular story to tell, according to Marriot. It’s interesting to note that several of the hotels under the Corey Hospitality umbrella are Autograph Collection hotels.

 McCoy, who has only been at the Ambassador for a short time, is no stranger to the industry with 25 years in the hotel business. And his years of experience have taught him that service is about people, but great service is because of great people. When asked what he likes most about the Ambassador, he replied,

  “The people who work in the hotel are my favorite aspect. And more so, how ingrained in the community they are. We have long-time employees, and we have return guests because of the people who work in this building. This company feels like family.”

Why Stay at Tulsa’s Ambassador Hotel?

If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic for a touch of 1920s Tulsa, The Ambassador is worth a night or two. There is much this quaint corner of history offers, including unique state-of-the-art meeting rooms and even a library with history about Patrick Hurley. But above all, maybe the best amenity offered is just the opportunity to walk between the past and the present, in an atmosphere where everyone there makes you feel as though you are the newest member of a family that has come and gone for almost a century.  

C. L. Harmon

C. L. Harmon



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