Mille Lacs Band acquires Oklahoma City hotel

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, which announced the purchase of two St. Paul hotels over the past year as part of its economic diversification strategy, has acquired a third hotel property, this one an Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. The Band issued the following news release on the acquisition:

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV) announced today that it has closed the purchase of the 236 room Embassy Suites Oklahoma City hotel, located at 1815 South Meridian, Oklahoma City, OK 73108. The purchase represents a strategic expansion into a growing market for the company.

“We are excited to enter the Oklahoma City market with one of the strongest performing hospitality assets,” said Joseph Nayquonabe, CEO of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures. “The quality of the suites and the proximity to key attractions around the city position this hotel for exceptional performance.”

Located only six miles from downtown and less than four miles from Will Rogers World Airport, the recently renovated hotel boasts an atrium, 9,968 square feet of meeting space, a business center, fitness room, indoor heated pool and gift shop.

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures will grant Greenwood Hospitality Group – a Denver based hospitality management firm – an agreement to manage the property.

“We are very excited to enter into a partnership with Greenwood Hospitality,” Nayquonabe continued. “This partnership represents a unique opportunity to combine our expertise and work together to maximize the value of this strong asset.”

In 2013, Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, issued a directive to diversify the Band’s corporate holdings and strengthen the tribal economy.

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures began its long-term strategy to diversify the Mille Lacs Band’s investments beyond gaming with the purchase of the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront hotel and the DoubleTree by Hilton in St. Paul, Minn. Since then, MLCV has further diversified by opening Sweetgrass Media, a commercial print shop and acquiring 2020 Brand Solutions. It is in the process of several other planned investments, including the rebuild of Eddy’s Resort on Lake Mille Lacs and the development of a commercial laundry facility and a medical office building in Hinckley, Minn.

“Economic diversification is critical to building a strong future for the Mille Lacs Band and I am pleased to see our corporate arm, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, acquiring assets that will benefit Band members for many generations to come,” said Benjamin.

This hospitality acquisition is the second step in a nationwide strategy to acquire hospitality assets in major markets.

“We remain confident in our decision to enter the hospitality space,” said Jeff Castillo, director of investments and economic development for MLCV. “Market fundamentals remain strong, demand seems to have fully recovered and we are anticipating record occupancy levels in both urban and airport locations.”

Nayquonabe said MLCV is continually analyzing deals in search of opportunities that meet its stringent investment criteria and will position the company for long-term success. “We’re very pleased to add the Embassy Suites Oklahoma City to our growing portfolio and we look forward to discovering our next great opportunity.”

About Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures
Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures manages all the Mille Lacs Band’s businesses, including Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Grand Casino Hinckley, the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel and the DoubleTree Hilton in St. Paul, Minn., 2020 Brand Solutions, Embassy Suites Oklahoma City and other Band-owned businesses such as a cinema, a grocery store, gas/convenience stores, a golf course, wastewater treatment plant and a print shop. It also oversees certain amount of the Band’s investments and considers new business opportunities to provide economic support for the Band’s future. Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures has over 3,500 employees and its board of directors is comprised of five members, who guide the business and investment decisions for the Band.

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Andy Platto