New Orleans Hilton undergoes $35M refit

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NEW ORLEANS -- The 1,600-room Hilton New Orleans Riverside is undergoing a $35 million room renovation scheduled for completion in June of 2002.

About 250 rooms on three floors have been completed, with an additional two floors of rooms opening about every six weeks.

Enhancements include new furniture, fixtures, carpets, drapes and lighting.

Paul Buckley, general manager, said this is the hotel's most ambitious renovation since the property opened in 1977.

"This is the first time guest rooms are being completely rebuilt from the inside out," he said.

Buckley added that plumbing and electrical work on all rooms is complete.

As part of the project, New Orleans' largest hotel completed the remodeling of guest room bathrooms, now boasting granite vanities and improved lighting.

Also, the installation of a new air conditioning and heating system, with digital temperature displays in all rooms, was completed late last year.

Refurbished rooms will include a workstation with full-size mahogany desk, dual-line phones and high-speed Internet access.

A year ago, the hotel renovated its meeting areas with new carpets, wallpaper and lighting enhancements.

Adjacent to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the hotel features 38 meeting rooms totaling 130,000 square feet, including two ballrooms.

The hotel contains an exhibition center, conference center, business center, three restaurants, three lounges, a health club, two heated pools, eight indoor tennis courts and shops.

Buckley told Travel Weekly the hotel is considering expanding its meeting space.

If such a project goes ahead, it will be completed by the fall of next year.

"We're examining it right now. There's a demand for space for corporate meetings," Buckley said.

The project calls for the expansion of the Riverside Conference Center, with two new 1,000-square-foot meeting rooms taking half the space from the existing Kabby's restaurant along with the addition of two large suites and a 10-person boardroom.

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