Four years after Hurricane Katrina struck, New Orleans has taken another step toward recovery with The Roosevelt New Orleans reopening its doors as a Waldorf Astoria Collection hotel following a $145 million restoration.
First, a bit of history: The historic downtown New Orleans property originally opened in 1893 as the Grunewald, was rebranded The Roosevelt (in honor of Teddy) in 1923 and, in 1965, was renamed The Fairmont. Katrina forced the closure of the hotel in 2005; it remained shuttered until this past July, when it reopened to much fanfare. (We are told this project is one of the largest private investments in downtown New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and one of the most significant projects in years for the city’s hospitality industry.)
Today, the hotel is back, combining its 116-year-old history with contemporary tastes. Guests can choose from 504 rooms, 135 of which are luxury suites, some named after celebrities who have visited the hotel (such as the Louis Armstrong Jazz Suite). We are told the most popular rooms are the King Suites (most of which have pull-out sofas—good picks for families), Luxury Suites and nine Waldorf Suites. Note: The seven Astoria Suites offer butler service.
Not that New Orleans is hurting for great food, but gourmands will appreciate the numerous restaurants and bars at The Roosevelt. Dominica specializes in Italian cuisine made with local ingredients while Sazerac Restaurant serves haute cuisine. A poolside café dishes up light, healthy fare, and Teddy’s Café serves coffee and New Orleans-style chicory.
The hotel’s popular Blue Room has been a New Orleans jazz mainstay for decades. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Blue Room presented some of the best-known names in entertainment, including Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Sonny and Cher. The reopened Blue Room will honor its history by hosting live entertainment for a wide range of ages; upcoming guests include New Orleans’ “first family of funk,” the Neville Brothers; Grammy Award-winning singer Irma Thomas; musician, composer and producer Allen Toussaint; and clarinetist Tim Laughlin. The room is also bringing back a classic New Orleans tradition with its Sunday Jazz Brunch, which will serve Nouvelle-Orléans cuisine. (Recommended: the mascarpone-stuffed French toast with house-made satsuma marmalade).
|The Lobby harks back to The Roosevelt’s storied past, which included regulars like Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Jack Benny and Bob Hope.|
For a relaxing drink with friends, visit Sazerac Bar (connected to the restaurant), which serves its signature Sazerac cocktail and Ramos Gin Fizz—both invented in New Orleans, locals say.
The hotel’s Guerlain Spa (one of only three in the U.S.) will have 10 treatment rooms, including a couple’s therapy suite, a VIP treatment room and a fitness center.
Nice Touch: Spa reservations can be made online. Request Lauren Ayestas or Dwayne Turner for all massage services, and we hear great things about esthetician Daniella Goodwin’s “Exceptional Orchidee’ Imperiale” treatment. For those who need some serious unwinding, request the Waldorf Impériale, a special two-hour treatment exclusive for hotel guests. Luxe Touch: Spa products are from the prestigious Guerlain Paris line. Contact Spa Supervisor Arianne Duplessis ([email protected]; 504-335-3190) to help schedule treatments.
Luxury travel advisors can contact Carol Soler ([email protected]; 504-335-3006), director of business and leisure travel, with further questions about room types, or Ava Noten ([email protected]; 504-335-3133), reservations manager.
|A two queen superior room has views of downtown New Orleans.|