by Hunter R. Slaton | November 01, 2009

Local Update:
The French Quarter's
186-room Inn on Bourbon opened the new 2,300-square-foot Salon de Gallier in July, bringing its total meeting space to more than 4,000 square feet. The property is engaged in an ongoing $4 million refurbishment of all guest rooms.

The 166-room La Quinta Inn & Suites reopened in February following a complete interior and exterior renovation. The property features 2,400 square feet of meeting space.

In January, the 693-room Astor Crowne Plaza opened three new 700-square-foot meeting rooms and completed renovations to the lobby, all guest rooms, the executive lounge and more. The property offers 32,000 square feet of meeting space.

New Orleans Armstrong International Airport soon will begin a $350 million renovation in preparation for the 2013 Super Bowl. In July, the airport added new international service on Aeromexico, which now flies to New Orleans from Mexico City and Honduras.

The deadline for new group bookings
under New Orleans' Extraordinary Experiences meetings discount program, sponsored by the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and the convention center, is Dec. 31. The program offers complimentary convention center space, F&B, marketing resources and more for meetings held during specific months from now through 2013.

The New Orleans Morial Convention Center invested $20 million in renovations in 2008 and 2009. This past year, $11.8 million in ongoing or completed improvements included extensive renovation of both ballrooms; installation of key-card access for meeting rooms; the addition of a new digital, closed-circuit information system throughout the prefunction areas, and an upgrade of the center's wireless Internet infrastructure to 10 gigabytes of capacity.

hotelsMeeting Hotels: Properties in the city's Central Business District include the 1,616-room Hilton New Orleans Riverside; 1,290-room New Orleans Marriott; 1,110-room Sheraton New Orleans; 504-room Roosevelt Hotel; 494-room JW Marriott New Orleans; 479-room InterConti­nental New Orleans; 423-room W New Orleans; 367-room Doubletree New Orleans; 324-room Windsor Court, an Orient-Express Hotel; 296-room Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome; 285-room Loews New Orleans Hotel, and 272-room Renaissance Pere Marquette.

In the Convention/Warehouse Arts District are the 331-room Marriott New Orleans at the Convention Center, 288-room Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans Convention Center and 217-room Renaissance Arts.

In the French Quarter are the 707-room Astor Crowne Plaza; 570-room Monteleone; 527-room Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans; 483-room Royal Sonesta; 438-room Westin New Orleans Canal Place; 346-room Omni Royal Orleans, and 251-room Chateau Bourbon–A Wyndham Historic Hotel.

convctrsConvention Center: The New Orleans Morial Convention Center; exhibit space, 1.1 million contiguous square feet; number of meeting rooms, 140; (504) 582-3023;

Airport Transit:
Louis Arm­strong New Orleans International Airport, 10 miles west of the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Transfer cost by taxi, $28; by shuttle, $13

Room tax, 4%, plus a $1-$3 surcharge per room, per night, based on room count; sales tax, 9%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13% plus the surcharge

Large Group Venues:
In the heart of the French Quarter, Latrobe's on Royal is a special-events space in a renovated former bank building dating from 1822. The facility was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who some call the father of American architecture, and designated a historic landmark in 1983. Unique details include wrought-iron balconies that feature the "LSB" seal of the Louisiana State Bank, which once occupied the building. Latrobe's can accommodate up to 150 people for a seated, banquet-style dinner or up to 400 for a reception-style party. (504) 299-0601;

The New Orleans Steamboat Co.'s Natchez, one of the last Mississippi River steamboats, can host private cruises for up to 1,500 people. Sunday through Thursday rates for a two-and-a-half-hour cruise start at $2,500 for up to 200 passengers, or $4,000 for up to 450 passengers on Fridays and Saturdays. Each additional passenger costs $10. A variety of menu and entertainment add-ons are available, including the six-piece Dukes of Dixieland band. (800) 233-2628;

Small Group Venues:
Rue Bourbon Entertainment has five French Quarter event spaces, all with balconies overlooking colorful, world-famous Bourbon Street. Abinsthe House, on the corner of Bourbon and Conti streets, is the company's most recently remodeled banquet room; it can host parties for up to 50 people. The four other spaces are the Napoleon Wine Room (50 guests for a seated dinner, up to 75 for a reception), the Mardi Gras Room (75 for dinner, 150 for a reception), the Jazz Room (30 to 50 for a reception) and the elegant, antiques-furnished Josephine Room (20 for dinner, 40 for a reception). (504) 524-0113;

CVB Services:
New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 672-6124;