On a press trip to learn about my heritage and Cherokee Nation, I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, which is owned by Cherokee Nation. The hotel is what you would expect – a lively party atmosphere, slot machines, bars, live music and smoke. You won’t find a Hardrock Café, however, that is owned by another tribe. But you will find Cowboy Caviar at Toby Keith’s restaurant, Italian food and a buffet at the Wild Potato. The hotel and casino is a fun place but not what I would consider a family atmosphere.
Cherokee Nation bought the Hard Rock franchise for their casino because they wanted an internationally recognized name. Principal Chief Chad Smith told our group that he took some heat from the tribe for not naming the casino after Cherokee Nation. But he had a good reason: He would rather have the name Cherokee Nation linked to education and culture than gambling.
My room was in the Cherokee Tower, a newer and slightly upgraded area. The ambiance is all rock ‘n’ roll: Red & black colors, dim lighting, rock on the radio but the room was not obnoxious–unlike the other portion of the resort with its checked black, red and gold bedspread. Luckily those rooms are getting a makeover. We hardly spent any time in our room anyway, which I suspect is the case for most visitors.