Ladies relaxation lounge in the
newly expanded and renovated spa
These days, New Orleans feels like a new city. With the
construction of new lodging and massive renovations, the hotels of
New Orleans look and smell brand new.
Take the International House, the city’s hip boutique hotel
minutes from Canal Street and the French Quarter. A redesign began
last year for the Beaux Arts-style building that once housed the
World Trade Center, and more will occur before the hotel’s 10th
anniversary this year.
New details include the use of indigenous materials, work of
local artisans and a marriage of classicism with modern style. The
lobby features contemporary twists on typical hotel fixtures of the
19th century with three chandeliers by Louisiana artist Guy Martin.
The hotel’s front desk, laced with wrought iron like that found in
the French Quarter, was inspired by a windblown field of Louisiana
irises, according to hotel literature.
The redesign is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based designer
L.M. Pagano, who used a seductive, candlelit ambiance for the
hotel’s bar, Loa, which means deity or divine spirit in voodoo.
It’s a great place to relax and enjoy specialty drinks or to watch
celebrities who frequent the hip hotel.
Throughout the property are fun, eclectic touches, such as Ren,
a room off the lobby that offers refreshments and a plasma TV. Ren
is lined with religious candles and flower vases which are
fashioned after a mineral water bottle from the 1800s.
The staff uniforms received an upgrade as well, replaced by
black velvet blazers, designed by Juicy Couture. It’s only natural
that the designer of these uniforms is married to a member of Duran
Duran and is a frequent visitor to the International House.
Hotel services range from voodoo referrals and flower
arrangements to booking in-room massages.
The hotel is located on a busy street with dramatic windows from
its earlier days, and staying at the International House during
special events can be noisy. However, Travel & Leisure
maintains that “if New Orleans is the best place in the country to
party, then International House is the best place to sleep it
A few blocks away on Canal Street, The Ritz-Carlton has been
busy with a $100 million redesign of its massive hotel, located in
what used to be a major New Orleans department store. Last year,
the Ritz renovated its spa as well, expanding the space to 25,000
square feet, making it the largest in the city and the Big Easy’s
only full-service spa that’s open daily. The new decor reflects the
romantic side of New Orleans with elegant chandeliers, gauze-draped
walls and fragrances of the city, such as magnolias and
The renovated spa contains 22 treatment rooms, a new cafe,
fitness center, lobby and retail store. Spa and salon services have
been expanded as well, now totaling almost 100. Facial and body
treatments created by Prada, body fusions by Payot of Paris,
prenatal services and exfoliations are just a few of the new
offerings. One of the spa’s specialties is the Marie Laveau Voodoo
Love Massage, which begins with a hydrotherapy bath complemented
with candlelight, incense and voodoo music that’s followed by a
The hotel incorporates a Voodoo Love perfume they claim is a
recreation of voodoo priestess Laveau’s own. Spa-goers dab the
potion behind their right ear and cross over their hearts in a
voodoo ritual to attract love.
Also on Canal Street and newly renovated is the New Orleans
Marriott, at a cost of nearly $38 million and concluding last year
with new suites, lobby, restaurant, concierge lounge, meeting
spaces and more. The Marriott is one of the city’s leading hotels
with 1,290 guestrooms and the largest hotel ballroom in Louisiana,
at 27,500 square feet.
New to the hotel are a redesigned lobby lounge with modernized
decor; the addition of a Starbucks and a FedEx/Kinkos; new hotel
dining options with improved interiors and seating; fitness
facility with state-of-the-art equipment; a complete upgrade of the
guestrooms and suites; and a renovated, hip Concierge Lounge with
multiple private work stations and complimentary Internet.