|The Hyatt Regency New Orleans is set to reopen this October. // (c) 2011 Hyatt Regency New Orleans|
Big news for the Big Easy: The Hyatt Regency New Orleans reopens October 19, 2011, a month ahead of schedule and is now accepting reservations.
Lest you have forgotten, this is the same Hyatt that’s next to the Superdome, which has been closed for the past six years in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The hotel is an important one to New Orleans; it’s been a key lodging facility for 30 years, serving as the host hotel for Superdome events.
The reality is, however, that it will not open as the same Hyatt; rather, General Manager Michael Smith has spent the past three years reinventing the hotel with a budget of $275 million to create an urban oasis for business and leisure travelers.
The new plan for the 1,193-room property follows the same concept that Gaylord Hotels concept that puts a vast amount of meeting space and leisure amenities under one roof.
Smith’s research for the project was so extensive, drawing on three difference sources for market data, Hyatt will now use the New Orleans hotel as its model for future Hyatt Regency’s said Smith.
Stand-out features of the hotel include 200,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, flexible event space, which doubles its former offerings and which will be the largest in the city. Five meeting planner suites will be residential in style and the hotel will have four presidential suites. Food and beverage offerings will include a soon to be announced celebrity chef, a 2,000-square-foot Starbucks and a market in the lobby selling food and alcoholic beverages that can be stored in the mini refrigerators in all guest rooms, which promise to be high tech. even the hotel’s entrance has been completely repositioned so that it now opens on the other side, on Loyola Avenue.
Of note is that the hotel and the Super Dome will now be connected to the rest of the city via a new Loyola Avenue Streetcar Line, which will bring visitors to the French Quarter, which should take about a year to complete. The line is a federally funded project that’s part of an overall plan for the country to increase its rail offerings throughout the U.S.
The project has been a true labor of love for Smith, who was running the hotel when Katrina struck and who assisted and hosted staff, New Orleans residents, emergency crews and New Orleans officials following the crisis. The hotel, in fact, served as the city’s nerve center and Smith has since been singled out as one of heroes of Hurricane Katrina.
The hotel opens just as New Orleans is set to host the 2012 BCS National Championship, NCAA Final Four, SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and the 2013 Super Bowl.