Prevue July/August 2015 - (Page 50)

Le Meridien New Orleans Three "Cs" unlock creative group experiences [ON LOCATION] JESSIE FETTERLING T he Le Meridien New Orleans debut celebration on March 6 culminated with a traditional New Orleans second line parade through the hotel's hub space. The grand marshal of the second line brass band led the entourage of musicians playing drums, trombones and trumpets. Guests- who were handed white napkins to shake in the air-followed suit, dancing as the parade made its way up the stairs to the hotel's 5,000-sf Esplanade Ballroom. The festivities continued here with a performance by Le Meridien's partner French bossa-nova band, Nouvelle Vague, and local musician Big Sam (of Big Sam's Funky Nation) joined in on the fun. Embracing local culture is part of the Le Meridien brand, which centers on the "curious and creative-minded traveler," says Julie Frank, global director of design for Le Meridien Hotels. That's apparent throughout the new Le Meridien New Orleans, which underwent a $29 million conversion from the former W Hotel. That first glimpse of local culture is evident in the porte-cochere valet entrance, where a video installation called "Arranging Suitcases" by Avery Lawrence plays on the exterior wall. Then, the carpet that leads past the check-in desk into the Le Meridien hub space features a design interpretation of the city's Fleur de Lys symbol. The hub space takes on the communal lobby concept, designed using lines and grids from aerial views of New Orleans' geography. These map-like designs decorate the wall and serve as inspiration for the linear chandeliers hanging from the hub ceiling. The space reflects Le Meridien's larger goal of unlocking a destination through coordinates, culture and cuisine. These same shapes influence the design of the 410 guest 46 | prevue magazine rooms. Street map lines and dots representing population density during a Mardi Gras parade decorate the walls and ceiling. Rooms also feature photography with local scenes such as Mardi Gras beads hanging on an iron fence. Even the headboards for the beds pay homage to the city's historic architecture. DESTINATION UNLOCKED As part of the Le Meridien Unlock Art Program, the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans offers attendees staying at the hotel complimentary general admission to the arts center. The center's rotating art exhibits make for an interesting event venue. Radcliffe Bailey's eighth iteration of "Windward Coast," for example, features a man's head lost in a sea of thousands of piano keys, symbolizing those lost in Hurricane Katrina. Gallery spaces can be rented out, or meeting planners can rent out the entire 30,000-sf building. A visit to New Orleans wouldn't be complete without a taste of the city's Creole and Cajun cuisines. Chef Johnny Iuzzini creates signature éclairs for Le Meridien based on local flavors. In New Orleans, this includes a sassafras-pimenton eclair shell, coffee-chicory pastry cream, herbsaint and bitters fondant and pecan pralines. Iuzzini showed our group how to build our own eclairs, which can be duplicated as a teambuilding activity for attendees. A DIY cocktail-making activity can also be arranged onsite, where The Sazerac-America's first cocktail created in New Orleans-will likely be on the menu. For an authentic taste of N'awlins, you wouldn't want anything else.,

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue July/August 2015

Planner’s Pick: Washington, D.C
Fresh Meets: Loews Hotels & Resorts
Bureau Buzz: Las Vegas CVB
Good Business: The Empty Suitcase Campaign
Sea Shores: Foodie Cruises on the Rise
Culinary Combos
On Location: Puerto Rico
On Location: Dominican Republic
On Location: Le Meridien New Orleans
Checkout: Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Hotel

Prevue July/August 2015