A Changing Hotel Scene
PHOTO: AC Hotel Bourbon is the first location in the U.S. for this Marriott International European brand.
As New Orleans’ star continues to rise as a premier destination for business and leisure travelers alike, and new hotels are opening while existing properties are undergoing considerable renovations to meet changing tastes and the ever-increasing demand.
“New Orleans offers something for every budget and taste,” says Leslie Straughan, sales manager at the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Hotels range in price and feel, from luxurious to budget friendly, from romantic to trendy and from historic to modern.”
And, with the city’s reputation as a premier destination for foodies, Straughan adds that more hotels are adding topflight restaurants to their portfolio of offerings. “Hotel restaurants are sometimes looked over by travelers, but many New Orleans properties offer world-class restaurants,” says Straughan, whose mission at the CVB is to help travel agents sell New Orleans. “Some examples include the Loews New Orleans’ Café Adelaide, the InterContinental’s Trenasse, Hotel Monteleone’s Criollo and Royal Sonesta’s Restaurant R’evolution, to name a few.”
Luxury travelers will also find a healthy roster of properties to choose from, including the Royal Sonesta, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, The Roosevelt New Orleans and the Windsor Court Hotel. For guests interested in smaller properties, Straughan suggests the Soniat House or the Audubon Cottages. “New Orleans is a wonderful destination to have a luxurious experience,” Straughan says.
To sweeten the travel experience, the New Orleans CVB is offering NOLA BUCKS, which provide groups booking 10 rooms or more for stays of two or more nights with $10 cash rebates per qualifying room. The offer is good for Sunday through Thursday stays during 2015. To qualify for NOLA BOOKS discounts, group leads must be issued by the New Orleans CVB’s tourism team. For more information, visit www.neworleanscvb.com/NOLABucks.
Following is an update on new and renovated New Orleans’ hotels.
AC Hotel Bourbon
Set in the former Cotton Exchange building in downtown New Orleans, the property was opened by Marriott as the first location in the U.S. for this European brand. The 220-room hotel, which opened late last year, has been carefully crafted as a lifestyle property. As such, with both the French Quarter and the Warehouse district right at its doorstep, the AC Hotel Bourbon staff encourages guests to explore the city.
The eight-story hotel, which is fast gaining a reputation for its personalized service, features mobile check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi, a lounge and library boasting art and design books, a fitness center, a curated AC store and a sleek interior design.
The lounge serves handcrafted cocktails and small plates, from the AC Kitchen. Rooms are equipped with adjustable reading lamps, deluxe bedding and pillows and minifridges.
The boutique hotel recently completed a $2 million renovation of all its guestrooms, which are now have contemporary furnishings, blackout drapes, plush bedding, free Wi-Fi, 37-inch flat-screen LCD TVs with premium cable channels, in-room coffee makers with artisanal coffee, Bath & Body Works toiletries, iron and ironing boards, safes, work desks and individualized climate-control.
The hotel’s casual Café at the Square restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends. One of the property’s key selling points is its location on one of New Orleans’ most popular Mardi Gras corners — mere steps from the French Quarter on the Saint Charles Avenue streetcar line at Lafayette Square in the Business & Arts Districts.
InterContinental New Orleans
The centerpiece of the InterContinental’s $25 million renovation is unquestionably its new lobby, which now features a dramatic entranceway and a much more spacious feel, thanks to the removal of first-floor escalators. The renovation also included the addition of 12,000 square feet of second-level meetings space, facelifts to all 479 guestrooms and the addition of Trenasse restaurant, the brainchild of chef Jim Richard of the highly regarded Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
Guestrooms, including 29 suites and 80 balcony accommodations, have been refitted with luxury linens and all new fixtures.
The property offers 31,000 square feet of flexible meetings space, including an 8,700 square-foot ballroom overlooking St. Charles Avenue and an 11,000 square-foot conference center.
PHOTO: Le Méridien Hub is the central gathering spot at Le Méridien New Orleans.
Le Méridien New Orleans
This downtown property, which opened its doors in December in the former W hotel, put the finishing touches on a $29 million renovation in March, which included the redesign of its 410 guestrooms and 22 suites and public spaces. The Starwood property incorporates Le Méridien brand’s mid-century aesthetic but with a decidedly Big Easy ambiance. For starters, the lobby has been transformed into Le Méridien Hub, the central gathering spot for guests and locals alike. It includes the Longitude 90 bar, which serves as a coffeehouse by day and transitions into what Le Méridien refers to as a “wine inspired” space in the evenings. The LMNO restaurant serves New American cuisine with Cajun and Creole influences, along with handcrafted cocktails. The hotel has a rooftop pool with poolside cabanas and a 24-hour fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment.
Just two blocks from Bourbon Street and set in a residential area of the city’s historic Vieux Carre district, this boutique hotel’s 187 rooms and 13 suites recently received significant facelifts that freshened and modernized accommodations. Rooms and suites are now equipped with deluxe pillow-top mattresses, free Wi-Fi, personal safes, 37-inch flat screen televisions with high definition channels, voicemail, vanity mirrors, hairdryers and luxury bath amenities.
Its casual restaurant, Bistreaux, serves three meals daily with an emphasis on Creole and American cuisine. The property boasts a heated swimming in its tropical garden, which serves as a popular wedding venue. Guests can also enjoy cocktails in the courtyard or the hotel’s bar.
The property was the site of the first cotton press in the U.S. and wasn’t transformed into a hotel until the 1970s.
Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
This spring, the former Ambassador Hotel will be transformed into the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, which will highlight the original details of the property, including its hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. The rebranding of the Warehouse Arts District property also includes expanding the room count to 167. The new design will blend modern touches, with white walls and ceilings and pipes appointed with bright bursts of color.
PHOTO: The former Ambassador Hotel will be transformed into the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, highlighting original hardwood floors and exposed brick walls.
Guestrooms will feature all the modern amenities, including flat-screen TVs, docking stations and complimentary Wi-Fi. The lobby will feature industrial-inspired tables and armchairs built for comfort.
The property will also have a gym and a public room for receptions, casual get-togethers and formal meetings. The hotel’s origins date back to 1854, when the building was a coffee warehouse.
Formerly the Queen and Crescent, this 12-story property underwent a $10.2 million renovation last summer and has been transformed into the Q&C Hotel, widely regarded as one of New Orleans’ hippest, trendiest hotels. The renovation added a host of modern amenities to the property, but not at the expense of its history. Its original brick walls and wood floors, for instance, remain intact. All of the pet-friendly hotel’s 196 rooms feature Wi-Fi, 47-inch flat-screen televisions, work-stations, Keurig coffeemaker, refrigerators, safes and walk-in showers.
The Q&C Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a happy hour with reasonably priced, small-batch libations. The Q&C Hotel is in the Warehouse/Arts District close to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
More by Claudette Covey
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A version of this article appears in print in the April 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.
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