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New Orleans' First New-Build Hotel

February 12, 2007 By: Anastasia (Stasha) Mills Healy Travel Agent

Harrah's luxury hotel is the anchor of more development to come

Since Tuesday, February 20, is Mardi Gras, it's apropos that
here we discuss a New Orleans
property—not just any hotel, but the first newly built post-Katrina hotel. Yet
another sign of a reburgeoning tourism industry, the hotel is already
considering expanding and is developing a kid-friendly version of Bourbon Street; and
down the street, a Trump condo-hotel-retail project is scheduled to break
ground this quarter.

Harrah's New Orleans Hotel opened on September 21, 2006, a
little more than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated this great American
city. Construction began on the property before the hurricane struck and
resumed shortly thereafter.

In the Central Business District, one block past the divider
of the French Quarter, Canal Street, the hotel is across the street from
Harrah's Casino and a couple of blocks from the New Orleans Convention Center.
Many Mardi Gras parades end at the convention center, so this is an ideal spot
to watch the action. Also, its location near the Mississippi
is convenient for viewing fireworks on July 4 and New Year's

As you pull up under the port-cochère, glass doors open to
reveal shiny marble floors and a long line of staff ready to assist at the
check-in desk. Some check-in stations are reserved for guests who have reached
certain gaming levels with Harrah's casinos, but non-gamblers are also well
looked after.

The hotel's top floor has two suites with baby grand pianos

The hotel has 450 rooms on 26 floors—the top floor is the
place to be: It's an all-suite floor that comes with butler service daily 6
a.m. to midnight. Two suites have pianos and two have balconies; four "super
suites" have fireplaces, and corner suites have the most expansive views.

Clients who'd like a chandelier hanging over their Jacuzzi
tub, six showerheads, a four-person bar and enough space to entertain 25 people
will be thrilled with these suites. My favorite was Jasmine (all suites are
named after flowers), suite
. Kicking back with a cold beverage while watching the sun
set over the Mississippi River and the French
Quarter, and listening to the calliope from the nearby riverboat from a
140-square-foot balcony would be a beautiful thing. Iris is the other suite
with a balcony. Begonia, number 2604, is a spacious corner suite.

Super suites are 1,207 square feet and regular suites are
760 square feet. The average guest room is 450 square feet.

The 26th-floor suites are usually reserved for high rollers
but it's worth a try to snag one for your most well-heeled clients (staff told Travel
that the suites go for $3,000 or $4,000 a night).

Nicole Pasquier handles VIPs: Contact her through the
hotel's general phone number.

A standard guest room

Standard guest rooms have marble flooring in both the
entryway and bathroom, wireless high-speed Internet access, robes, and
twice-daily housekeeping service. Request a corner room with a river view. A
check of rates mid-March showed a standard ("luxury") room priced at
$749 a night.

Not that it's ever a possibility in this city, but guests at
Harrah's won't go hungry. Celebrity chef Todd English opened his first
restaurant in New Orleans
here in the hotel. Called Riche, it's open daily for all three meals, serving
at the lounge-like bar area up front; a dining room with marble-topped tables,
high ceilings and stone floors; or, in good weather, outside on the
pedestrian-only Fulton Street.

Fulton Street is on its way to becoming a family-friendly Bourbon Street

The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is across the brick
patio on Fulton Street, which is lined with umbrellas, trees, gas lamps and
uniform potted plants bursting with white flowers. Hotel staff told Travel
that the hotel has plans to make Fulton the G-rated version of Bourbon Street,
with upscale restaurants and entertainment venues. They also revealed that the
hotel owns the whole block and is considering building both an all-suite hotel
with 100 suites and another 450-room tower, possibly with a pool (the hotel now
has a fitness center but no pool).

But back to Riche. As if dishes like cochon de lait farci
and redfish meunière with rock shrimp weren't enough to keep diners happy, the
restaurant has some special touches with presentation. Napkins bear the fleur
de lys (a symbol of the city) and bread comes in a white linen bag with Le Pain
embroidered in gold. The vanilla soufflé, which your waiter deflates tableside,
drenching it with a sauce and leaving an opening for the accompanying ice
cream, is a must.

Behind Riche is 528 by Todd English, a cozy jazz club with
brick walls and wood beams. It has a separate menu that's more Italian as
opposed to Riche's more Provencal-with-New-Orleans-influence cuisine.

Harrah's Casino (foreground) is across the street from the hotel

And across the street at Harrah's Casino, which opened in
October 1999 and re-opened after Katrina in February 2006, through the doors on
Poydras Street is Besh Steakhouse for guests hankering for a New York strip
topped with blue cheese butter accompanied by Turbo Dog (a local beer)-battered
onion rings. Even if clients aren't eating here, if they're art fans, recommend
they look in to admire the five giant paintings by local artist Rodrigue. Here,
in one painting, his famous blue dogs are portrayed as Blues Brothers.

The casino—the only land-based casino in the area—has other
restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. A stone's throw away is the dive
sandwich shop Mother's and the elegant restaurant August as well as the hip W
New Orleans and the Orient-Express English hunting-themed property the Windsor Court Hotel.
That's the beauty of this city.


Harrah's New
Orleans Hotel

228 Poydras Street 504-533-6000

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