The 186-room Inn on Bourbon, in the French Quarter, unveiled the new 2,300-square-foot Salon de Gallier last July. The addition brings total meeting space at the property to approximately 4,000 square feet. Meanwhile, a $4 million refurbishment of all guest rooms currently is under way. (800) 535-7891; innonbourbon.com
Local Update: The historic 504-room Roosevelt New Orleans reopened last year after being closed since 2005. Approximately $145 million later, the property has reemerged as part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Offerings include the Italian restaurant Domenica, the Sazerac Bar and Restaurant, and the Blue Room, where Sunday brunches are accompanied by Jazz music.
In March 2009, the reflagged Holiday Inn New Orleans West Bank Tower reopened following a $13 million upgrade. A total of 2,000 square feet of meeting space is available.
Last November, a $300 million expansion of the National World War II Museum opened, adding the dining and entertainment venue Stage Door Canteen, the 250-seat Victory Theater and The American Sector restaurant from chef John Besh. The venue features approximately 23,000 square feet of meeting and event space. By 2015, the Campaign Pavilion, the Liberation Pavilion and other themed galleries will open, helping to quadruple the museum's size.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau soon will merge with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. The combined organization will integrate the resources, marketing and customer service of the CVB, convention center, Superdome, Sports Foundation, Multicultural Network and Tourism Marketing Corp. At press time, the merger was awaiting approval from the city council.
The city of New Orleans was awarded $45 million by the Obama administration to build a new 1.5-mile streetcar line. The route will begin at Union Passenger Terminal, move down Loyola Avenue and conclude at the Poydras Street business corridor.
The New Orleans Morial Convention Center has undergone $20 million in renovations in the past two years and plans to invest an additional $11 million in 2010. Enhancements will include new landscaping, digital A/V information systems in meeting rooms, "pod" furniture, and local artwork and photography displayed throughout the property.
Meeting Hotels: Among major properties in the city's Central Business District are 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 693-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.
Convention Center: The New Orleans Morial Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 1.1 million contiguous square feet; number of meeting rooms, 140; (504) 582-3023; mccno.com
Airport Transit: Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, 10 miles west of the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Transfer cost by taxi, $33; by shuttle, $20; roundtrip, $38
Taxes: 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
Group Venues: August, the flagship restaurant of James Beard Foundation award-winning chef John Besh, has been impressing New Orleans foodies with its contemporary French fare for nearly a decade, and accolades for the man at the helm continue to pour in. The latest: The Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts magazine, bestowed in honor of Besh's ongoing work to revitalize the city's fabled cuisine. A number of inviting group spaces are available here, such as a private dining room with seating for up to 100 people for dinner or 150 for a reception, a two-story wine room accommodating 24 and the Chef's Tasting Room. (504) 299-9777; restaurantaugust.com
In the years since the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, approximately $219 million has been spent on upgrading the Louisiana Superdome, including the addition of distinctive illuminium panels to the building's exterior. Another $85 million in improvements will come this year and next, in the form of new sideline seating, two field-level lounges, a widened main concourse, an outdoor festival plaza and 16 private suites, all to finish in time for the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four event and the 2013 Super Bowl. The arena offers a total of 166,464 square feet of column-free exhibit space, seating for up to 70,000 people and 137 suites. (800) 756-7074; superdome.com
Meanwhile, the adjacent New Orleans Centre mall and former Dominion Tower office building were purchased last year by Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, who is pouring $10.5 million into the complex to create a new sports and entertainment venue. A 92,000-square-foot, pre-game party zone, to be called the Benson Tower, is in the preliminary planning stages.
CVB Services: New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 672-6124; neworleanscvb.com