Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the Big Easy's meeting and tourism offerings are better than ever. In addition to its jazz, restaurants and historic spots (like the French Quarter, pictured), several new upscale properties have opened, while the main convention facility is enhancing its surroundings.News Flash•
The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
has launched a vision plan for the enhancement and development of the land surrounding the venue. Features include a "linear park" (as in long and narrow), a people mover and substantial retail, entertainment and residential components; a hotel also is part of the plan. The new area and offerings are slated for completion by 2018, to coincide with New Orleans' official tricentennial celebration.Dig In
Pick up a traditional muffuletta
-- marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham and provolone on round Italian bread -- at the place it was first made, the Central Grocery and Deli
.All That Jazz
Check out the new Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse lounge -- run by the star trumpeter, band leader and New Orleans cultural ambassador -- at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.
The 188-room Aloft New Orleans Downtown
has opened with 2,500 square feet of meeting space, free Wi-Fi, a bar, a fitness center and an outdoor pool.•
A 350-room Four Seasons
hotel will be built in the Crescent City's vacant World Trade Center building. The property, which also will include 76 condos, is slated to open in 2017. Plans include an interactive cultural attraction called "New Orleans: History at the Confluence of Cultures," an observation deck on the 31st and 33rd floors, a ballroom, meeting rooms and a restaurant. •
The 410-room Le Méridien New Orleans
has opened, following a $29 million transformation; the hotel formerly was the W New Orleans. Included in the upgrades was the addition of 1,600 square feet of meeting space, giving the hotel a total of 20,000 square feet. Three new restaurants have opened, including LMNO, the property's signature eatery. •
Marriott's new brand, AC by Marriott, debuted last December with the opening of the 220-room AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon/French Quarter Area.
The hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi, 2,200 square feet of meeting space and a fitness center. •
The Wyndham Riverfront New Orleans, which recently was acquired by Omni Hotels & Resorts,
is now the Omni Riverfront Hotel. The 202-room property has undergone a six-month, $8 million transformation, including upgrades to its nearly 4,000 square feet of function space.•
The National WWII Museum
is in the midst of a $325 million capital-expansion project that will quadruple its size by adding space to increase its exhibits, collections, library and archives.