OKLAHOMA CITY (Mar. 18, 2024) – Chickasaw Nation and OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark officials announced the hiring of two key leadership positions for the $400 million project along the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City


Ken Leone, senior global hospitality enterprise executive, will serve as the general manager, and Edd Karlan, high-profile market sales leader, will serve as the director of sales and marketing for OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark.


"The knowledge and managerial expertise that both Ken and Edd bring to this project is unparalled,” said Chad Claborn, OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark Asset Manager. “While construction continues to move along quickly, there are many pre-opening and operational milestones that require attention right now. Ken’s proven leadership in property development and management as well as his ability to build people-centric cultures will come together to create an unforgettable OKANA experience, while Edd’s extensive experience and deep understanding of market dynamics in the hospitality industry are invaluable assets that align with our vision for OKANA. We are confident they both will be a pivotal force in driving the success of OKANA’s opening in 2025 and its growth in the coming years."


With 30 plus years in the hospitality industry experience, Leone most recently served as chief operating officer for SafeHarbor Development Group. During his tenure there he was responsible for developing and operating several Margaritaville resorts in the Tennessee area. Leone has also held positions with Delaware North as Vice President of Lodging and Business Development and was the executive vice president for Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants that was awarded the number one Best Place to Work in the San Francisco Bay Area during his tenure. He is a Certified Hotel Administrator from the American Hotel & Lodging Institute and has been recognized with many awards throughout his career including General Manager of the Year with Meristar Hotels & Resorts.


“OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark has been making waves in the hospitality industry since its announcement,” said Leone. “Coupled with Oklahoma City’s storied tourism and hospitality growth in recent years, it is thrilling to join the OKANA team and bring to life this unrivaled family destination experience to central Oklahoma.”


Karlan has held sales, marketing and events leadership positions for over 25 years in major metropolitan markets including New York, Anaheim, Calif., Atlanta, Ga. Palm Beach, Fla., and Las Vegas. Most recently he has held the same role with Hilton Hotels serving as task force sales leader in Seattle, San Joe, Southern California and at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City this past summer. Edd also has pre-opening experience in Florida further adding merit to his expansive, distinguished and award-winning career.

“Joining OKANA Resort and Indoor Waterpark at its inception is another remarkable opportunity for which I am grateful,” said Karlan. “This role allows me the opportunity to leverage my experience in the hospitality sector to contribute to the resort’s opening and growth and help create memorable experiences for our guests for years to come.”


With their proven experience in property development and growth strategies, Leone and Karlan begin their roles immediately and will lead the development of vendor partnerships and hiring.


OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark is on track to open in Spring 2025.