70112 Travel Guide
UPDATE: We were informed after press time that the "privileges" for Courtyard guests at the Ritz Carlton come with a $25 fee when using the fitness center, pool, and spa (if not making an appointment)-- a resort fee, if you will. Disappointing, for sure and not our understanding when originally approached with this story. So, we now turn the question to you, reader: Is this still a deal you'd be interested in? Would you pay the $25 with the cash you save on the rate to take a dip or workout at the Ritz while staying at the Courtyard?
Looking for a deal at the Ritz Carlton? Aren't we all. But now, thanks to an emerging hotel trend, you can crawl out of the bowels of the Internet: In New Orleans, the cheapest room at The Ritz-Carlton is actually next door at the Courtyard.
"Say what?" We can hear your disbelief right now. But it's true! The two hotels are connected by a shared elevator, and guests of the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville are allowed access to the Ritz-Carlton's fitness center and pool for a $25 fee (fee is normally $75 for non-Ritz guests). They can also charge back to their room at the Courtyard when hanging at the Ritz restaurants, lounges, and spa. We find this great for business travelers, their expense accounts, and anyone looking for perks that up their swag from mid-market to luxury level.
Property sharing among sister brands isn't exactly a new concept, but this is one of the first we've seen to offer budget and business travelers the chance to live well above their room rate. Prices for the Ritz start at $249 a night while the Courtyard will run you only $129 per night. Food for thought!
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Plenty of time has passed since the historic Maison Blanche building first opened on Canal Street as a department store in 1908. Boy, would we have loved to have been a customer at the store in those days, picking through whatever kinds of hats, shoes, furniture and toothpaste folks used to buy in the 1900s.
These days, however, the building lives in hotel form. Two hotels, to be precise: the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, which opened in 2000, and, until recently, the Iberville Suites.
We say until recently, because the second hotel portion of the building just got taken over by Courtyard by Marriott, effectively sealing the deal on Marriott's deft usurpation of this gleaming Beaux Arts building. They must have been plotting all along!
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But now that The Saint been picked up by Autograph Collection, we thought it might be worth popping our heads in. After all, for a hotel that's located in downtown New Orleans, just how ethereal can things get?
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In order to accurately represent the neighborhood's unique history, Saint Hotel owner Mark Wyant supposedly spent months scouring the archives at the Library of Congress for photos of the original Audubon Building, which first opened in 1910.
But Wyant wasn't only interested in pressed tin tiles and exposed brick—the hotel's design team also wanted to go for an "ethereal" feel, especially in the ground-floor lobby, which can be accessed from two entrances on Canal Street and Burgundy Street. Once inside, sheer drapes hang delicately from 22-foot high ceilings, and broad white columns punctuate the space like pillars in a church. Add in a gold-plated chandelier, cast in the shape of a giant bell, and you can practically hear the saints singing in jubilation.
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If locals were wondering when exactly the Audubon Buiding in New Orleans would officially transition into a hotel, the suspense is over. At 8am this morning, a banner was installed on the front of the building announcing the grand opening date. How's that for pomp?
The eight-story The Saint Hotel, which will open this December, is in fact owned by an American Airlines pilot. David Mark Wyant, and his mother Jana, purchased the building for $5.35 million last year, and quickly began pouring $39 million into the 101-year-old building's renovations. And, you know those pilots—always with their heads in the clouds. According to this NOLA article, the ceilings inside the 166 rooms will all be painted blue, and 21' tall Italian-crafted columns will give the lobby an "ethereal feel."
Normally we have Ritz Carltons down as splurgy kinds of places rather than savers, so it’s nice to know that the New Orleans branch is reaching out to our budget hearts with its new 20 Under $20 list – 20 things you can get under their roof every day for under $20, plus a free bonus thrown in for good measure.
You won’t be finding any rooms on the list, unfortunately, but as well as the obvious stuff like a postcard (a slightly overpriced $1) or a cup of coffee (a much more reasonable $2) you will see things from sushi ($3), Jazzed Up Grits ($6), a Bloody Mary ($8), Bananas Foster ($10) and kobe beef sliders ($16).
The “free” part is Jeremy Davenport’s live jazz, which you can either catch on weekend nights or Thursday evenings from 5.30pm till 9pm. If you make this one, you’ll get a free Davenportini cocktail to boot (as you might have guessed, Mr Davenport is something of a Nola celebrity and beloved of the local ladies). Although you might have trouble getting served – the place is rammed when he plays.
Taken during the very first "stormin'" in 1949.
Some people go for Civil War re-enactments, some people prefer Jane Austen movies, but when it comes to historical fixes, we prefer the vintage booze that are making a comeback at hipster-frequented speakeasies across the country. That’s why we want to tell you about the upcoming “Stormin’ the Sazerac” event at the landmark Roosevelt New Orleans on Friday, September 25.
Back in the day, women were only admitted to the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt on one day of the year: Mardi Gras (remember, this is New Orleans). Well, 60 years ago, a group of well-to-do New Orleans ladies decided they wanted a drink, and on September 25, 1949, they stormed the bar and demanded to drink. Their gambit paid off, and ever since, women have been admitted on the same basis as men.
The Big Easy never really lost its swing, but it has had to significantly rebuild both literally and emotionally post-Hurricane Katrina. Nothing brings a commercial boost like an influx of out-of-towners, especially those willing to roll large and invest in a taste of The Waldorf-Astoria's opulence.
The Roosevelt New Orleans—known as The Grunewald and The Fairmont in its earlier incarnations—recently underwent a whopping $145 million restoration, making it central to the city's rebirth. Located in the French Quarter, guests really can't get any closer to the core of life in New Orleans.
Reviews are generally positive across the board, but, honestly, it's hard to imagine such a massive project backed by a name like Waldorf-Astoria falling into the "sub-par" ratings range. Praise for it's "regal" ambiance and a staff that "[epitomizes] the spirit of New Orleans charm" are common on TripAdvisor, though many of the same reviewers agree that there are still a few minor kinks to work out in terms of service, with housekeeping and check-in being noted areas of concern.
When we turned our road trip towards New Orleans this weekend, we were looking forward to scenes of drinking in the hotel corridors and fornication in the lifts (last time we went, we stayed at the Holiday Inn, see).
But this time we were hitting up the Ritz-Carlton, and were confronted by a crew of wildly excited, under 13-year-olds wearing identical Jonas Brothers-themed uniforms. Turns out, we decided to hit town the same night as the JoBros, who were playing on Saturday. Not only were they in town, but their tour bus had just been spotted outside the hotel, making the kiddies think they must be shacked up here.
The Roosevelt's lighting ceremony, in May
We just got word from a hotel rep that the famed Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, which has been undergoing a major, major renovation and restoration (and transition to become a part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection), is officially opening up today.
We knew the place was running a special reopening promo starting July 26th and running through September 30th ($139! Seriously, get on this) and even though the last time we checked, rezzies were only available on July 11th and beyond, we actually can make reservations for tonight and the public is welcome to come in and walk through to check out the newly-restored property.
There will be a big grand re-opening sometime in mid-July with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and whatnot, but for now, rooms are available at $139 (the lowest we could find for July 7th, which was the first available room we could book). We gave the rezzie line a call because we were having trouble booking a room for tonight, and agent told us that either the place was totally full or it's doing what a lot of hotels are doing and requiring a few nights' minimum stay over the holiday weekend.
[Photo: The Roosevelt Blog]
Though most of the renos are done, all we've got are these cartoony renderings of the interior.
Well, as they say in the South: hot damn. (Er, do they say that in the South?) The Roosevelt in New Orleans is openin' its doors once again. And the ultra-posh rooms are goin' for cheap. Well, at first, anyway.
If you'll recall, we got the real, super-detailed scoop on what was happening with this iconic New Orleans property. Cliff's Notes version: after a $145-million restoration and renovation, the 116-year-old hotel is set to be reborn as a Waldorf-Astoria Collection property (it has been closed since Hurricane Katrina). We knew the place was going to be shooting for a quiet-ish opening sometime this summer, but we weren't sure when and then, last we heard, there was going to be some major celebration surrounding a bigger Grand Opening in the fall.
Are we feeling a little hoighty-toighty today? Perhaps the best way to handle this is by reaching into the back of your humidor for that special cigar and heading down to the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans in order to join their new private smoking club: The Library. The rest of the hotel may be non-smoking, but The Library welcomes puffers Monday through Sunday from 5pm to midnight.
Charter memberships are still available at this, one of the city's only smoking-allowed clubs, which will spend its inaugural season conducting monthly tastings and seminars with the Spirits Sommelier, Whiskey Ambassador or the Cognac Concierge. Oh, what we'd give to have the latter on our resume.
To experience The Library at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, there are some uncharacteristically low rates circulating for May and June. Starting from $199, the glamor of a luxurious night's sleep accompanied by a long dreg from something hecho a mano can be yours, so long as you're willing to slink down to The Big Easy for it.
[Photo: Ritz-Carlton New Orleans]