This is more than just a new hotel. It’s a culmination—a resurgence of both a community’s collective spirit and the economic engine driving New Orleans. It’s also more than a mere “renovation.” The $275 million redevelopment touched every aspect of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, from the dramatic new grand entrance on Loyola Avenue to the high-speed elevators and IT infrastructure.
For meeting planners, it’s everything you ever hoped for in a full-service convention hotel.
Here are the numbers: The 1,193-room hotel, including 53 suites, doubled its pre-Katrina meeting and exhibition space to 200,000 square feet—by far the most meeting space of any hotel in the city.
This includes two 25,000-sf ballrooms and 80,000 sf of flexible exhibition space, highlighted by a new 50,000-sf exhibit hall. For breakout sessions, there are 64 versatile meeting rooms, an executive meeting level and six permanent boardrooms.
“We’re the final hotel to come back online since Hurricane Katrina, and that time gave us the opportunity to do three comprehensive studies, which let meeting planners dictate what they wanted to see in the hotel,” says General Manager Michael Smith, who’s heralded for his oversight of the hotel during the storm.
“We could have renovated the hotel for roughly $75 million, but based on these studies we’re going to spend approximately $275 million to create the quintessential convention and leisure hotel by executing all the delighters that our market research pointed out.”
AN ENDLESS ARRAY OF AMENITIES
The fundamental focus of the redevelopment was to create a self-contained property for groups of all sizes. The hotel is located downtown in the Central Business District (CBD) within the heart of the Sports & Entertainment District, adjacent to the new Medical District.
The Hyatt Regency New Orleans was designed to meet, feed, breakout and entertain one large group or two 600-room groups simultaneously, all under one roof.
The hotel more than doubled its restaurant capacity, creating an F&B complex that will help accommodate an underserved area of town. It will feature a full-service, 360-seat restaurant with two private dining rooms. There’s also a 210-seat Media/Activity Bar, 70-seat Atrium Bar, 2,000-sf Starbucks and a 24-hour market. The showcase restaurant is a 360-seat freestanding restaurant to be operated by an award winning, nationally recognized chef who will be announced shortly.
Surrounding Hyatt Regency, the neighborhood is also undergoing a massive renaissance.
The new 70,000-sf Champions Square is an outdoor festival area designed for special events, located right between the hotel and the Superdome. A bevy of new establishments are spurring growth of the Sports & Entertainment District, with the major league NFL Saints, NBA Hornets and collegiate events hosted at the Superdome and adjacent New Orleans Arena.
Coinciding with that, the $185 million South Market District is changing the residential landscape, bringing fresh energy to the area. Dozens of new and historic buildings are being constructed and converted into trendy lofts, organic eateries, microbrew pubs and a giant fresh food market for the city’s burgeoning Creative Class.
Lastly, the nearly $4 billion medical campus currently under construction is the biggest investment surrounding the Loyola and Poydras corridors. This offers a wellspring of networking and educational opportunities for medical, bio-tech and pharma groups within walking distance from Hyatt Regency New Orleans.
A PLANNER’S ONE STOP SHOP
General Manager Michael Smith says New Orleans does big events better than anywhere else, because the city and Hyatt Regency have so much experience executing major events. The hotel has been the headquarter property for numerous Super Bowls, Final Four Tournaments and several other national events.
A true full-service convention hotel, the new Hyatt Regency is working with established partners who will have onsite offices: Kuoni Destination Management, Freeman exhibit/event planning, Swank audio/visual systems, Passkey online reservation services, and FedEx Office. Representatives from these vendors can join meeting planners and hotel reps during site inspections. That just might give the meeting professional a few extra stress-free hours around Hyatt’s new 25,000-sf pool deck.
The hotel will also feature five Meeting Planner Suites, a signature item. These suites were designed with the comfort of the meeting planners in mind. Whether arriving early, staying a few days after the meeting has ended, or both—the hotel will ensure that planners feel at home while coordinating a successful meeting with all of their favorite amenities.
“The hotel is a 1-stop shop. We have a combination of national and hospitality brands that are recognizable to meeting planners and leisure guests alike,” says Smith. “As a team we will all work together to provide the Hyatt Meeting Planner Guarantee—authentic, seamless service for our clients.”
Hyatt Regency New Orleans’ self-contained environment was designed to save groups money and minimize logistical hassles. That extends to the accommodations. For instance, there are no pricey mini-bars in the rooms. Instead, each is outfitted with a large mini-fridge that guests can stock with supplies from the onsite 24-hour fresh market.
“We want to make everything convenient for our guests, where they can have all the things they like to have at hand and avoid the shock when they get their final bill,” says Smith. “Our pricing metrics are different. For example, our restaurants are priced to our local competitors, not the other hotels.”
All guest rooms are oversized and feature 42” high-def TVs, a generous work station that is WiFi-ready, and an even balance of king and queen/queen rooms.
When attendees want to explore some of the nation’s best cuisine and music in the French Quarter, Warehouse District and Garden District, recommend they jump aboard one of the famous genteel streetcars. The city is investing $212 million in three new streetcar lines scheduled to start service in 2012, and one of them runs straight to Hyatt Regency’s front door.
The streetcars are part of New Orleans’ social fabric, taking groups to major attractions from the Audubon Zoo Uptown to stellar live jazz at Preservation Hall in the Quarter. The hotel is only a few blocks from the Museum District, including the National WWII Museum and numerous art galleries along nearby Julia Street.