Halfway through a four-year, $36 million
overhaul, the New Orleans Marriott, a convention hotel, is turning
to leisure visitors to help fill its renovated rooms.
"We're trying to
be very creative with what we put out there," said Cory Chambers,
the hotel's director of sales and marketing. "We're trying to do
unique packaging -- minivacations, family deals, girlfriends
packages -- just to get people to open their minds to the idea of
coming back to New Orleans."
The hotel endured
many convention, meetings and incentives cancellations after
Hurricane Katrina, and those segments have been slow to recover.
Occupancy is down about 25% compared with pre-Katrina levels, said
The Marriott has
an 80-20 business-leisure split. "We are primarily a convention
hotel, but we've always changed gears during festivals and on
weekends to attract more leisure travelers ... but not consistently
The New Orleans
Marriott renovated its 1,290 guest rooms in 2005. The second half
of the renovation, to be completed in 2009, kicks off this month.
All 54 of its suites will be refurbished. Other elements of the
revamp are a face-lift of the hotel lobby and main restaurant,
including the addition of a Starbucks outlet; new decor, private
workstations and free Internet access in the Concierge Lounge;
upgrades to functions space; a replacement of all windows; a new
fitness facility; new escalators; new laundry facilities; a
renovated parking garage; and an upgrade of the fifth-floor pool
The Marriott is
offering a selection of packages to attract leisure travelers. Two,
the Big Easy Bonding and Femme Pour Touts plans, are tailored for
Big Easy Bonding,
based on two people traveling together, is priced from $349 per
night through Sept. 30 and includes breakfast for two; a $50 dining
voucher for La Cote Brasserie, Wolfe's in the Warehouse or Shula's
Steak House; a $100 gift card for jeweler Mignon Faget; a tarot
card, palm or tea leaf reading; two one-day streetcar tokens; a
list of top Magazine Street fashion shops; and a praline
coincide with the New Orleans Museum of Art's "Femme, femme, femme"
exhibition, Femme Pour Touts runs until June 3 and includes daily
breakfast and entrance tickets for four. Rates start at $159 per
night, based on quadruple occupancy.
Four Legs or
Fins, a family package, includes four tickets to the Audubon Zoo or
Aquarium of the Americas. It is $159 per night through Sept. 30.
The Lucky Sevens Escape includes a room upgrade, good luck voodoo
dolls, a psychic reading and a list of area casinos. The package,
valid from June 4 to Sept. 30, is $169 a night.
530-3763 or log on to www.neworleans.marriott.com.
To contact Destinations editor Kenneth Kiesnoski, send
e-mail to [email protected].