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Shangri-La breaks ground on hotel - KOAM TV 7

Shangri-La breaks ground on hotel

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DELAWARE COUNTY, OK -

Guest speakers and golden shovels were the draw for the hundreds who came to celebrate Shangri-La resort breaking ground on a new hotel.

State Senator Charles Wyrick, State Representative Doug Cox, Tourism Commissioner Chuck Perry, Delaware County Commissioner Doug Smith, and former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh were among those speaking in the space next to the Shangri-La Marina which will soon house a four-story hotel and convention space.

"The hotel itself will add about 75 jobs, so immediately we will be putting people to work. Which is huge in this area, huge in any area but especially Delaware County," Shangri-La VP of Operations, Jon Davidson said.

The original Shangri-La property was built in the 1970s and has changed hands several times. Davidson called Friday's groundbreaking the "next phase" to complete current owner Eddy Gibbs' vision for the resort.

George Nigh served as governor of the Sooner State from 1979-1987. It was under him the department of tourism was established. Nigh hosted the National Governor's Conference at Shangri-La in 1982, where almost every state was represented as well as several world leaders.

"Many years after I left the governor's office, I was told by staff members of the National Governor's Association, that this was the best National Governor's conference they ever had," Nigh said.

Nigh noted that the area does not match pre-existing visions of the windy Oklahoma plains.

"They couldn't imagine that here, at Grand Lake, at Shangri-La and Monkey Island, in their image of Oklahoma was plains. Which, we're proud of our plains. But also the mountains and the trees and the azaleas and the lakes," Nigh said.

The addition of jobs is not the only economic development the hotel will bring.

"It will bring leisure traffic, it will bring families, it will bring couples, the convention guests that come up. All of those people that come to the island will ultimately consider, "Geesh should I buy a boat?" We have a marina. "Gee should I join the golf course?" We've got memberships at the golf club," Davidson said.

The hotel is set to open April 1, 2017 and will be the only hotel on the island.

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