What you should know

New Orleans is a robust melting pot of European, African and Cajun cuisine and culture, a place where celebrations often spill out on to the streets and music is heard on every corner. The city’s reputation for dining continues to grow. Foodies from all over the country continue to discover what locals have appreciated for a long time. The French Quarter may be the city’s best-known district, but other neighborhoods offer equally rich experiences for attendees as well as excellent meeting venues and hotels.

Where to meet

The 693-room Crowne Plaza French Quarter sits elegantly on the corner of two famous streets, Canal and Bourbon, and has 13 meeting rooms and 32,000 square feet of event space. Its largest room capacity is 800 people. The 292-room Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport has 12,000 square feet of event space and 10 flexible meeting rooms. You’ll find it just one mile from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and 15 miles from the city center. Like all Crowne Plazas, these two promise a two-hour “response guarantee” for space and date availability inquiries. A designated meeting director can assist with advance planning, last-minute changes and help planners stay within budget with a daily debriefing. Crowne also gives discounts and bonuses through its loyalty program, Priority Club Meeting Rewards. The 423-room W Hotel New Orleans, near the French Quarter, is within walking distance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It has more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space, including 13 meeting and banquet rooms, and a 4,992-sq. ft. great room. The Royal Sonesta has a tropical courtyard and wrought-iron balconies. In the Central Business District, The 250-room Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue began life as a Masonic Temple and is six blocks from the Morial Convention Center, blocks from the French Quarter and Arts District, and 25 minutes from Louis Armstrong airport. The 1920s’ high-rise has 10,000+ square feet of meeting space, including the Skyview Terrace, and a historic chapel. It’s largest meeting room is 2,320 square feet.Although it has plenty of meeting and event space on-site (80,000 square feet), the 1,275-room New Orleans Marriott is known for its over-the-top group event. Transport attendees by mule-drawn carriages to a sit-down dinner at the Presbytere on Jackson Square, where local musicians perform. Or take part in second-line parades in which your group follows a marching brass band to a Bourbon Street balcony and a Mardi Gras-style party. The event staff has access to Garden District manses, which can be rented for candlelight cocktail parties with interactive food stations and live music.

Other options

The Hotel Monteleone has stood at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets in the French Quarter since the 1800s. Amenities include a spa, rooftop pool, plush guest rooms, on-site dining and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including ballrooms, meeting rooms and reception areas for groups up to 400. According to the International Society of Paranormal Research, the hotel also hosts the playful spirits of former employees and guests — a fun, if unexpected amenity for planners interested in themed events or “ghost hunter” adventures. The Roosevelt, which dates to 1893, has 60,000+ square feet of event space, including a grand ballroom and 23 meeting rooms, 504 guest rooms, 135 suites, a full-service Guerlain spa and three dining venues. The National World War II Museum can accommodate up to 1,200 guests. The contemporary Saint, which sits on prime Mardi Gras-viewing real estate, has 166 rooms and 1,450 square feet of meeting space with all the technological bells and whistles. The Hyatt Regency, adjacent to the Mercedes Benz Superdome, has 1,193 guest rooms/suites, 200,000 square feet of flexible event space — the most in town — and diverse restaurants. The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans has more than 35,000 square feet of meeting space for groups up to 500.

Where to meet green

The contemporary International House is part of the Green Hotels Association. It’s New Orleans’ first boutique hotel and uses indigenous materials in the décor. It has 2,374 square feet of meeting space on-site and another 7,224 square feet in a conference it shares just steps away. The hotel’s Loa Bar (named for a voodoo deity or divine spirit) is popular with small groups and visiting celebrities.

Where to eat

Dining is No. 1. Many attendees will be familiar with the names (and, in some cases, chefs) at Galatoire’s, Cochon, Antoine’s, Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s, Bourbon House, Mr. B’s, K-Paul’s, Palace Café, Lilette, Arnaud’s, Broussard’s. Many offer team-building cooking classes. All of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants have private dining options, a distinct vibe and seafood-centric cuisine. NOLA is rustic and relaxed, with space for 20 to 500 throughout three floors. Emeril’s Delmonico provides a fantastic wine program and modern steakhouse Creole cuisine, with space for up to 230 seated, 375 for a reception.  Intimate groups can take over the chef’s kitchen table at the original Emeril’s, or the wine room.

Where to team-build

Stage an off-site event at Café Reconcile, a community-based nonprofit that gives at-risk young people the skills to succeed in the hospitality business. The Café’s “Feed Your Soul” package offers groups of 30 to 80 a New Orleans-style meal. Pricing starts as low as $25 per person. Reconcile also can be hired to cater off-site events at such venues as the Cabildo, Presbytere, U.S. Mint, New Orleans Museum of Art, Contemporary Arts Center and Degas House.

Where to play

Mardi Gras World, the riverfront museum and workshop where floats are created for the famous Carnival, is a mix of whimsy, fantasy and action. It can handle 50 to 8,000 people. Entertainment options include private after-hours tours, demos, float rides, second-line parades and cooking. MGW has an atmospheric Grand Oaks Mansion, a movie-set-worthy uptown manse with faux live oaks and Spanish moss. A huge patio faces the Mississippi River; its meeting rooms have river views. The Audubon Zoo and Aquarium has indoor and outdoor meeting space for groups up to 350; the entire facility can be booked for progressive dinners and receptions. The National World War II Museum has several private event venues, including a 242-seat theater and an aircraft hanger/pavilion that holds up to 1,200 people. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, which is one of the last pure music experiences left on the Earth. For music beyond Bourbon Street, try Faubourg Marigny, an original Creole neighborhood about a mile from the French Quarter, for its nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Large groups can convene first at The Louisiana State Museum Jazz Collection at the Old U.S. Mint to see jazz memorabilia (Louis Armstrong’s cornet, Dizzy Gillespie’s bent-bell trumpet and some 10,000 photographs dating to the 1950s). The French Market can handle groups of 10 to 350.

The 411

  • 1.1+ million square feet of exhibit space and 140 meeting rooms in the New Orleans Morial Convention Center
  • 37,000+ guest rooms
  • 900+ restaurants
  • 100+ square blocks of art, dining, shopping, entertainment and architectural treasures
  • 60+ hotels citywide
  • 1,200+ restaurants, most within walking distance of hotels