With its diverse culture, historic architecture, renowned restaurants and music venues plus a walkable downtown core that hosts more than 135 annual festivals, New Orleans is an easy sell. Thanks to its new airport terminal, revamped Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and more luxury hotels, planners have a wealth of great options for groups. Here are a few highlights of what’s new in the city.
Landing in Style
Last November, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport opened its new $1.3 billion 972,000-sq.-ft. terminal complex, which features a consolidated security checkpoint and in-line baggage screening to smooth attendee arrivals and departures.
New flights into the city are added every month, including Frontier Airlines’ twice-weekly service to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, American Airlines’ flights to Phoenix and Spirit Airlines’ daily nonstop service to Nashville.
New Orleans has seen more than a dozen new hotels open in the past several years, and the newest offering is Hotel Chloe in Uptown. The upscale 14-room property will have a poolside bar and restaurant that can host up to 120 people. The hotel will start welcoming guests in the spring of 2020.
The National World War II Museum opened the 230-room, 1940s-themed Higgins Hotel & Conference Center in December 2019. The hotel is named after Andrew Higgins, who designed and built over 20,000 boats in New Orleans during World War II. The $66.5 million project includes 18,000 square feet of meeting event space, a rooftop bar and four dining spots. The property is part of a $370 million expansion that added the Hall of Democracy, a 31,000-sq.-ft. retail and exhibition area.
A $400 million facelift of the 34-story, 433-room New Orleans Four Seasons Hotel and Residences is slated to open in late 2020. Adjacent to the conference center, the property will feature 22,500 square feet of meeting space and a two-story rooftop observation deck. Virgin Hotels New Orleans broke ground in May 2019 and plans to open a chic lifestyle hotel in the city’s Warehouse District in 2021.
Jazzing on the River
River cruising is booming and the city’s newest large-scale floating venue, the Riverboat Louis Armstrong, debuted in November, offering meeting and banquet capacities— including gospel jazz brunches and receptions—for up to 3,000 on its four decks. Located steps from Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the riverboat will focus on convention-related charters and events.
Cheers to Innovative Cocktails
In October 2019, Sazerac House—a high-tech interactive museum and distillery—opened its doors after a massive restoration of the 48,000-sq.-ft. 1860s-era building that was left abandoned for more than 30 years. Dedicated to the history of New Orleans’ cocktails, the venue’s six floors offer exhibits and unique spaces for receptions in the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, which holds up to 300.