Hotel Renovations Continue City’s Rebirth

Three Crescent City hotels are parading new bold looks

By: Cheré Coen

This is the first Image
Ladies relaxation lounge in the Ritz-Carlton’s
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 off.”

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 jasmine.

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 Swedish massage.

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.


International House

New Orleans Marriott

The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations