Hotels and urban identity
Certain hotels both reflect and define the city they’re in. The Plaza wouldn’t be the Plaza were it not in New York (and New York would not quite be New York without the Plaza). In Hong Kong, it’s the Peninsula. Memphis has the Peabody. And the Hotel de Paris, despite its name, is inextricably tied to Monte Carlo.
Peabodys, Peninsulas and other iconic
brands might have branches elsewhere,
When you think Waldorf-As-
toria, you do not think Orlando.
New Orleans has several properties whose identity is wrapped
up in the Big Easy. The Hotel
Monteleone, Cornstalk Hotel
and Bienville House are rooted
in New Orleans, and it’s no coincidence that they’re all in the
It’s interesting, then, that the reopening
of the downtown Hyatt Regency New Orleans earlier this month literally brought
tears of happiness to the eyes of many of
the city’s residents and was celebrated by all
who have followed New Orleans’ recovery
from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
six years ago.
In many respects, it is a typical Hyatt.
Editor in Chief
It’s large ( 32 floors, 1,200 rooms, 200,000
square feet of meetings space) and has the
brand’s defining atrium and glass elevators.
It is, in the words of John Pritz-ker, whose family developed the
brand, a classic “urban big box.”
I went down for its opening
weekend, my fourth visit to the
city since Katrina. The reason the
reopening of the Hyatt is so emotional for those who love that city
is that the hotel’s long closure
— it all but imploded during
the storm — and its prominent
location adjacent to the rebuilt
Superdome were highly visible,
But on this visit, I saw a joyous rebuke
to the doubters — and there were many
— who had predicted the city would never
again rise to its former stature.
For years after Katrina, one could simply
stroll into Galatoire’s and be seated right
away. Cafe du Monde would be half empty
on a beautiful morning.
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