GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. (KTAL/KSHV) — Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs has officially opened its new luxurious hotel, spa, and event center to the public.

The expansion project began construction in 2019 and lasted 28 months. The Hotel at Oaklawn is eight stories tall, featuring 198 rooms including two presidential suites. Each room offers luxurious amenities such as fine linens and large-screen televisions.

From the hotel’s location adjacent to the racetrack, patrons can watch Thoroughbred racing from the comfort of their rooms and take in the scenic views of beautiful Hot Springs and the valley of the Vapors.

“We are taking luxury to a whole new level in Arkansas,” said Louis Cella, president of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

“It will enhance the entertainment experience at Oaklawn, in Hot Springs and throughout Arkansas, which will further elevate our status as a leading tourism and recreation destination.”

The world-class Astral Spa has unique offerings such as a needle shower, representative of the iconic Bathhouse Row at Hot Springs National Park, an infrared sauna and a Himalayan Salt wall, seen nowhere else in Arkansas.

“Throughout the facility, you will see great attention to detail,” Cella said.

“You will also notice reflections of our local culture such as historic Oaklawn and Hot Springs memorabilia and locally sourced gemstones that will be used in spa treatments.”

The expansion project includes a 15,000-square-foot event center that can seat up to 1,500 people. Conferences, concerts, and banquets will take place in the space, which features a 1,900-square-foot stage with a large video wall. Additionally, four meeting rooms are available for smaller gatherings or for breakout sessions.

Each room is named after the area’s recreational lakes: Catherine, Hamilton, Ouachita, and DeGray. Outside, patrons and guests will enjoy a swimming pool with food and drink service poolside or to a guest’s private cabana.

Steve Arrison, CEO of VisitHot Springs, calls the new facility a major step forward for the city and the state.

“Oaklawn’s investment will enhance the menu of attractions that annually bring millions of visitors to Hot Springs and Garland County, which is good for everyone,” Arrison said.

“In the process, quality new jobs will be provided for hundreds of Hot Springs and Garland County residents.”

Cella says the expansion will strengthen Oaklawn’s economic impact on Arkansas through the creation of approximately 400 new jobs, generation of state and local tax revenue and related commerce activity.

“For more than a century, Oaklawn has been a major economic driver for Arkansas,” Cella stated.

“While horse racing alone continues to attract tourists to our state early in the year, the resort and expanded gaming center will draw visitors throughout the year.”

The expanded gaming center represents the first phase of the project. The center opened in early 2020, creating space for more than 1,500 slot machines and 33 gaming tables. Guests can explore the new high Limits area with more than 80 slot machines, three high-limit blackjack tables, and a private outdoor patio.

Several new food and beverage venues have also been opened including The Bugler, which is a signature fine dining restaurant overlooking the Oaklawn racetrack and infield, the First Turn Bar (also overlooking the track), and a Food Court.

HBG Design of Memphis, Tennessee was the architectural partner on the project. Flintco of Springdale, Arkansas was the construction contractor.

“This was a 28-month construction project,” said Cella.

“Our wonderful team Members here at Oaklawn did outstanding work to navigate the inherent challenges that come with a massive construction project. On top of that, they had to manage a pandemic and a historic winter storm, and they did so with grit and determination.”

Room reservations for The Hotel at Oaklawn can be made here.