For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations.
PLANNER: CARL WAGNER
C&H Educational Systems
Twin Lakes, CO
You can’t ignore the romance of the place. Paul Newman courted Joanne Woodward at Hotel Monteleone, located on Rue Royal in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Truman Capote insisted he was conceived there, and Tennessee Williams sang its praises in The Rose Tattoo.
The fanciful Beaux Arts façade is a city treasure, as is the rotating Carousel Bar off the voluminous grand lobby showcasing chandeliers from France and letters from Faulkner. The 600-room grand hotel represents the best of the Quarter.
“My wife and I lived in New Orleans for 25 years and every time we come back to the Monteleone, it’s like coming back home,” says Carl Wagner, partner of C&H Educational Systems. Wagner plans continuing education meetings, and each year he brings over 200 certified registered anesthetists to the 4-diamond hotel.
“There’s been extensive renovations and it’s very up to date,” he says. The rooms are fantastic, and they still have a period feel but with marble and glass bathrooms…. The best part is it’s a local hotel and family run business. They’ve retained all the staff so it’s easy to work with them, and just wonderfully welcoming.”
Carl, was your group able to find a half decent meal anywhere around the hotel?
“You know, there are 250 new restaurants that have opened since Katrina. That surprises a lot of people. It’s kinda like going to Europe without paying the price, and one of the best cities in the world for restaurants.” Directly across the street is Mr. B’s, a Brennan family restaurant designed in classic Parisian bistro fashion, where the city’s powerbrokers loosen their ties—and belts. Wagner says everyone raved about Cochon and Herbsaint in the Warehouse District, and Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. And every year he takes the group of 12-16 speakers to Galatoire’s, the old-line restaurant where you’ll cry over the remoulade. It doesn’t get much better, the food or the ambience.
Wagner recommends bringing groups during one of the city’s many festivals, like Jazz Fest, Voodoo Fest or an art or literary festival. But don’t schedule a lot of nighttime activities.
“It’s hard to get a group interested in an evening event at the hotel when there’s a festival going on outside the front door,” laughs Wagner. “Everyone’s eating and drinking and having a good time. So you don’t really have to entertain much, but you need to book early to block the rooms.”
So not too much organized teambuilding?
“There’s endless venues in New Orleans, there’s no other city like this in the country where you can walk everywhere. So it’s actually great for networking because word spreads around and everyone teams up and finds their favorite things to do.
And Monteleone is right in the heart of it all, just full of Big Easy a block off Bourbon Street.
“It’s a real New Orleans hotel. This hotel belongs here.”