The New Orleans Saints might have lost their chance to compete in the Super Bowl last year, but 2018 nevertheless was a big year for the Big Easy. That’s because the beloved city celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne in 1718. The occasion was marked by 12 months of special celebrations, including festivals, parades, concerts and exhibits. It was New Orleans at its mirthful best.
Now that the party’s over, the Crescent City have pivoted toward the future, which looks promising thanks to new developments that will bring fresh infrastructure, assets and attractions -- including a new terminal that’s opening this fall at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and a revitalized riverfront that will bring new retail, restaurants, entertainment options and park space to the vicinity of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
The “new” New Orleans also will include several new hotel options for meeting and convention groups, for whom the properties will be a contemporary refuge in an otherwise historic destination.
Illustrative of the new arrivals is the Sonesta ES Suites New Orleans, an extended-stay hotel scheduled to open at the end of 2019 in downtown. Sonesta’s second New Orleans hotel, along with the Royal Sonesta New Orleans on Bourbon Street, the new property will be adjacent to BioDistrict New Orleans, an economic development district designed to attract bioscience companies to Louisiana. Along with 190 residential-style guest rooms -- including studios, as well as one- and two-bedroom suites with separate living, sleeping and kitchen areas -- a highlight will be the “communal yard space” on the third-floor outdoor terrace, where guests will find seating areas, BBQ grills and a hot tub. Although it’s not yet clear if there will be meeting space, the Royal Sonesta will be close by with its own 20 function rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including a newly renovated 5,000-square-foot grand ballroom.
“All of us at Sonesta are thrilled to be able to build upon our existing legacy in New Orleans by delivering even greater variety of accommodation for travelers visiting such a unique and vibrant city,” said Sonesta President and CEO Carlos Flores.
Four More Coming Attractions in the Crescent City
The Sonesta ES Suites New Orleans will be just one of several new hotels welcoming meeting planners and attendees to New Orleans in the near future. Here are four others to look forward to:
• Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans. This fall, Hard Rock International will expand its international hotel portfolio with the Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans. Located on Canal Street near the French Quarter, the new 18-story property will offer 350 guest rooms and suites -- most of which will have either a balcony or a terrace overlooking the city -- as well as an extensive collection of music memorabilia paying homage to the city’s world-renowned music scene. There also will be a fitness center, in-room yoga, an upscale restaurant, a rooftop sky bar and lounge offering 360-degree city views, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool and 12,000 square feet of meeting space, including four meeting rooms and two ballrooms.
• The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center. One of New Orleans’ top attractions is the National WWII Museum, which welcomes more than 700,000 people every year. In support of its expanding educational programs -- including conferences, symposia, and student and teacher residential programs -- the museum in 2017 announced that it was developing its own hotel to host guests to the facility and other visitors. The property, the Higgins Hotel & Conference Center, is set to open in August as part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. Named for shipbuilder Andrew Higgins, whose company built ships in New Orleans during World War II, it will feature a war-era, art deco-style design across 230 guest rooms and 18,000 square feet of meeting space.
• The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will make its New Orleans debut in 2020 with the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. Located on Canal Street in “Two Canal” -- a historic 33-story skyscraper designed by modernist architect Edward Durell Stone, designer of New York’s Radio City Music Hall -- it will have 341 guest rooms and suites and a 29th floor comprising over 22,500 square feet of amenities, including a bar and lounge overlooking the Mississippi River, a children’s playroom, a private dining room with a chef’s kitchen, a historic hall with a communal dining room and a golf simulator room. The property also will feature an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, a fitness center and yoga studio, a spa, a signature restaurant overlooking 7,500 square feet of landscaped private gardens, and over 20,000 square feet of meeting space. And to top it all off, literally, there will be an observation deck in the building’s historic rotating rooftop.
• Virgin Hotels New Orleans. Sir Richard Branson’s lifestyle hotel brand, Virgin Hotels, announced last month that it has broken ground on Virgin Hotels New Orleans. Scheduled to open in 2021, the hotel will be located south of the Central Business District in the city’s trendy Warehouse District. Although specific details are still under wraps, it will offer more than 200 guest rooms and suites, multiple restaurants and bars, a rooftop pool and lounge, a gym, and several meeting and event spaces.