The French quintessence of present-day downtown New Orleans is so seductively smooth it’s easy for tourists to forget its jagged past. From Andrew Jackson’s bold 19th century city defense—propelled forward by a band of “misfits” that included free blacks and a coalition of pirates—to the overpowering of river defenses by Union soldiers, the history of New Orleans is as complex as the piquant Creole and Cajun dishes it serves.
The city’s streets, marked by an explosion of boutiques, art galleries and jazz clubs, are the offspring of an early 18th century hurricane that led to the walkable grid pattern that guides pedestrians today.
According to Brian Povinelli, global brand leader for Westin and Le Méridien, it is precisely this mix of old and new that prompted the conversion of Starwood’s W Hotel in downtown New Orleans into the Paris-born Le Méridien.
How will the conversion affect meeting planners?
Povinelli: Le Méridien New Orleans will offer meeting planners additional event space on the second floor, allowing the hotel to boast more than 10,000 sf of state-of-the-art meeting facilities, ideal for weddings, special events and business functions. The flexibility of the new meeting spaces allows for larger and smaller meetings including breakout sessions as needed.
The hotel will fully renovate its 410 guestrooms including 22 suites and bathrooms as well as upgrade the fitness center, rooftop pool and the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, which can also be rented out for events. All rooms and public spaces will soon feature Le Méridien brand elements and signature offerings, making the aesthetic feel entirely new and refreshed. The updates will offer meeting planners premier accommodations for event guests staying at the property.
Le Méridien’s trademark Hub(tm) and four-phase arrival experiences will continue to offer guests and locals a creative atmosphere where contemporary, curated artwork and coffee culture—including a Master Barista to serve up delicious coffee creations—sets the environment for informal gatherings, morning coffees and evening cocktails. A mini hub on the second floor will provide the perfect break out space between meetings as well as breakfast service.
How will New Orleans’ Le Méridien differ from other Le Méridien hotels?
Guests at Le Méridien New Orleans will discover unique, artistic design elements that highlight the personality of the great city. Wandering down corridors, they’ll trace the curvy banks of the mighty Mississippi along the walls, telling the story of how New Orleans got it’s nick name, the Crescent City. Guests can navigate through the downtown streets while waiting for the elevators as juxtaposed squares, shapes and lines on the doors illustrate the framework of the city. Upon entering the guest room, they will explore colored dots populating an outline of a downtown city map on the wall, which depicts the crowds that gather on street corners and sidewalks as Mardi Gras parades roll down during Carnival season.
What can meeting planners/delegates look forward to in 2014?
Meeting planners can look forward to the refreshed design of the hotel and new amenities and services as part of the Le Méridien experience, which blends contemporary culture with its European heritage. Additional breakout and event spaces will offer more opportunities for dynamic meetings of various sizes while renovated guest rooms and public spaces will present fresh, timeless designs with neutral tones that allow pops of bold colors to punctuate the environment.
How will Le Méridien help meeting planners create high return on investment/experience (ROI & ROE)?
The new design and brand experience at Le Méridien New Orleans will offer innovative and creative experiences for guests and attendees that will energize the senses through culinary, design, culture and unmatched personalized services.
New Orleans is a unique city that offers guests much more than a meeting space, but a well-rounded cultural experience. The city’s French influence is still very much a part of the culture today, woven into the food, architecture and music. As the Le Méridien brand incorporates its rich, French heritage through its properties around the world, Le Méridien New Orleans will be in a prime position to enhance the guest experiences with sophisticated local elements that tie in naturally with the brand’s international identity.
Some of the city’s most popular attractions and restaurants are within walking distance while popular tours that explore swamps, plantations, historic cemeteries and more can be a part of any group itinerary.