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They had me at “light-blocking shades.” The feature was the first thing I noticed — and thanked the heavens and interior designers for — upon settling into my room at the newly renovated JW Marriott New Orleans.
Let’s face it: A lot of travelers to the Big Easy aren’t visiting for tranquility and early nights and, if you’re like me, a light-flooded room at daybreak can be a cruel way to start the day. That especially applies during signature events and parties such as Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and, coinciding with my April visit, French Quarter Fest, when there’s a good chance you’ll end the night with a 2 a.m. beignet at Cafe du Monde.
Those blessed light-blocking shades are one element of a multimillion-dollar property-wide renovation completed last October. Opened in 1984 to accommodate guests for that year’s World’s Fair, the 501-room JW Marriott boasts an incredible French Quarter-adjacent location on Canal Street; a lobby and valet entrance on the less trafficked Common Street; a heated outdoor 46- by 18-foot saltwater pool and fitness center on its eighth floor; a lobby lounge; and a Brazilian-style Fogo de Chao restaurant.
Guestrooms feature modern decor that utilizes lots of mirrors and a silver and neutral color scheme. The renovations included adding to each room a super-comfy bed and pillows; a dark wood and black leather headboard; an upholstered pinot noir-toned chair; a 55-inch smart television with access to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Pandora; and plenty of USB ports. A white marble bathroom is stocked with Aromatherapy Associates amenities.
One area that remained untouched by the renovation, however, is the hotel’s lobby rotunda, which includes five murals depicting different aspects of New Orleans culture. These murals date back to the opening of the hotel and were installed by Italian-born artist turned New Orleans resident Franco Alessandrini, who was artist in residence at the World’s Fair Italian Village in 1984.
While the hotel’s renovations are a major upgrade, visitors to New Orleans aren’t going to stay indoors all the time. Fortunately, the property is mere feet from the French Quarter’s old and new delights. During my visit, I started with a New Orleans-style chicory iced coffee at Chartres Street’s outstanding French Truck Coffee, then tucked into a gumbo and barbecue shrimp shortcake at “elevated Creole” restaurant SoBou, an offshoot of Commander’s Palace, the city’s fine-dining institution. Also nearby is Johnny’s Po-Boys, Arnaud’s and all the stages providing complimentary entertainment during French Quarter Fest.
And, later this year, JW Marriott’s guests are in for even more nearby perks and conveniences. A new storefront from Cafe Beignet, a competitor to Cafe du Monde, is planning to open just next door, and Sazerac House, a distillery and museum dedicated to the history of the city’s cocktail culture, will open its doors this fall at nearby Canal and Magazine streets.
It all gives clients even more to do on their next trip to the Big Easy.
The DetailsJW Marriott New Orleanswww.marriott.com