Big Easy hotel woos couples with location, romance packages

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NOLA-RitzSuiteNew Orleans may primarily be associated in America's collective consciousness with the libertine revelry of Mardi Gras but the Big Easy -- arguably the country's most European city -- also happens to be one of its most romantic, ideal for romance travel, weddings and honeymoons.

In fact, officials at reborn luxury redoubt the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, one of the city's leading upscale hotels, liken a romantic stay at their five-star property to going to "Paris -- without the jetlag."

The 489-room, 38-suite hotel is even offering a Paris Without the Jetlag package that, according to Director of Public Relations Char Thian, is perfect for romance travelers of all stripes. Priced from $279 per night and available Sept. 3 to Dec. 31, the deal includes Club Level accommodations and a hand-blown glass fleur-de-lis keepsake crafted by local artisans.

The Club Level -- formerly operated as Maison Orleans, a hotel-within-a-hotel -- "was designed to feel like a residence, a grand mansion with its art and antiques," said Thian. "The mood is created by the demi-canopied beds, sunken tubs, surround-sound stereo and a DVD library of movies filmed in or about New Orleans."

The package is just one of several that the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans has crafted to woo newlyweds shopping for a honeymoon spot, engaged couples considering destination wedding venues and even long-term couples looking to reconnect on a romantic getaway.

"New Orleans has always been a romantic destination, for honeymooners and the romantic-at-heart," said Thian, pointing to Peace of Mind, another of the hotel's packages as another option perfect for romance travelers.

Priced from $109 per night through Sept. 30, the deal includes deluxe accommodations, daily breakfast for two and valet parking.

Wedding ceremonies and receptions are becoming big business at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. "We've seen an uptick in requests for weddings, receptions and wedding room blocks," noted Thian.

NOLA-RitzCourtyardAn emerging trend in nuptials booked at the hotel is what she termed "culturally indigenous weddings." In the past year, Ritz-Carlton staff created an authentic Indian wedding ceremony and reception as well as a kosher Jewish reception.

Of course, "indigenous" can mean things Cajun, Creole and Louisiana, too.

"A popular choice for alumni of Tulane and Loyola University is a New Orleans-style wedding, complete with a second line, jazz music and New Orleans cuisine," Thian said.

Speaking of New Orleans style, the hotel's location on Canal Street at one end of the French Quarter is a big draw.

"Guests can walk out of the back door and they are in the French Quarter, one block from world-famous Bourbon Street and some of the finest restaurants, music venues and historic bars in the country," said Thian. "We find that wedding guests come in a day earlier or stay a day later to enjoy one of America's greatest treasures."

While bridal parties may be ensconced in suite accommodations in the Ritz-Carlton proper for their big day, many of those wedding attendees flying in from out of town opt for the Ritz-Carlton Hotels of New Orleans' second, less-expensive overnight option on site, the Iberville Suites.

"We operate two hotels with different price points, so attendees that are on a budget can stay at our all-suites property, The Iberville Suites." The Iberville Suites is current offering a $99 per night rate through the end of the summer.

For more, visit www.ritzcarlton.com and www.ibervillesuites.com.

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