Customized tours promise 'full story' of New Orleans

By Johanna Jainchill

Morgan McCall MolthropBefore launching a tour business in New Orleans, Morgan McCall Molthrop worked on Wall Street and in the telecom industry and taught at New York University.

But after Katrina ravaged his hometown, he came back to help his family and decided to make a profession out of showing visitors what he considers the real New Orleans.

Along with Carling Dinkler, who comes from a hotelier family that owned New Orleans' famed St. Charles Hotel, the two formed Custom Conventions + Tailored Tours, a company that takes guests beyond Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.

"People are tired of 'cookie-cutter' tours of New Orleans," Dinkler said. "They want experiences that add authenticity and create memories."

Each tour is custom-crafted based on clients' interests, but they all incorporate the area's real history and its present.

"Our angles are very modern," Molthrop said. "We try to make sure the full story is played out. [For example], we make sure our guests understand slavery and Louisiana history from an Afro-Creole perspective. … We don't just throw marshmallows at alligators on our swamp tour, we talk about the disappearing wetlands."

On its tour to local plantations, he added, "We don't sugarcoat: We talk about slavery and its evolution in New Orleans."

"When we visit the plantations, we focus on the 'majority' population that lived on the property, not the 'big house'," he explained. Guests visiting a sugarcane plantation will also learn that in its day, "Cane was pure gold. … Bad teeth meant you had access to this luxury product."

The company's tour of "The 'New' New Orleans" shows guests changes the city has undergone since Katrina, making it a "greener" city with a thriving arts scene.

"We explore the neighborhoods … that a Gray Line just won't venture into," he explained. "These neighborhoods are traditionally Creole, colorful and full of surprises. For example, Bywater is home to the reigning Vodou Queen of the city, Sallie Ann Glassman. We bring our guests to her when she's in town."

New next year will be a tour celebrating the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, considered the last major battle in the War of 1812. The tour, being developed with state tourism leaders, will take guests by riverboat to the battlefield.

Other tours and programs focus on strong women in New Orleans history,; Jewish and Spanish history in the city; and culinary influences. Food enthusiasts may also enjoy a program where guests select ingredients from local markets and prepare meals with local chefs.


Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw.  

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