Black Meetings and Tourism

July/August 2023

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B M & T ••• July/August 2023 ••• 20 now covers 7 acres. With 650,000 annual visitors, it is listed as the number one visitor attraction in New Orleans and is at 945 Magazine St. On our second day, we had breakfast at the famed Brennan's Restaurant constructed in 1795 by the great-grandfather of painter Edgar Degas, and located in the French District at 417 Royal St. It is the former home of eccentric world chess master Paul Morphy, and the restaurant where the world- famous Bananas Foster dessert originated. Groups can rent up to nine ornately dec- orated rooms for sit-down meals that include turtle soup, BBQ shrimp and grits, and vanilla-scented French toast. If visiting, be sure to ask about the real turtles that live in a pond on the property and who lead the slowest parade in the world each year, joined in by children in the community. Among the most unique venues in New Orleans is the spectacular Vue Orleans located on the riverfront and occupying the top two floors of the 34-story Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. A truly interactive cul- tural experience, the designers brought in Lawrence Powell, a history professor from Tulane University, as a consultant to ensure that historical facts about the people and places in the Crescent City were correct. For instance, the second-floor entrance features an impressive interactive AV show that showcases the history of the city and its unique culture. A presentation about the life of Marie Catherine Laveau describes her as a Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, herbalist and healer, who was renowned in New Orleans. For years while growing up, I had heard Laveau negatively described as a witch and sorceress. This floor also includes the panoramic Vue River Theatre with a presentation by the "Soul Queen of New Orleans," Irma Thomas, on how the Mississippi has shaped the city. The attraction's three elevators can take visitors to a spectacular 360-degree indoor and outdoor observation deck that offers panoramic views of nearby landmarks as well as reality stations where one can do such fun things as piloting a boat through a risky turn on the Mississippi River. If interested in the history of Black New Orleanians, be sure to check out a video narrated by Henry Louis Gates. The venue can accommodate up to 150 for a buyout, and catering options include the opportunity for a sit-down din- ner for up to 25 people. Our next stop included lunch at the luxu- rious Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, a 341-room property on the banks of the Mississippi between the French Quarter and Warehouse District at 2 Canal St. The prop- erty opened in August 2021 following a $500 million renovation. The property has two ballrooms, with the largest, The Plimsoll Ballroom, measuring 8,000 square feet with a capacity for 500. The hotel also has an additional 28,000 square feet of space including an outdoor garden that can host receptions for up to 200. At lunch, our group dined at Chemin A La Mer, which overlooks the iconic river and serves Louisiana favorites such as seafood gumbo, pan-roasted Ora King salmon, and shrimp boulettes. Cocktails were served afterward at the hotel's Chandelier Bar, recently voted Best New Hotel Bar in New Orleans. We ended our day with a visit to the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week's Pitch Competi- tion where top entrepreneurs from New Orleans and across the Gulf's South take to the stage and compete for prizes related to trans- forming today's business world. Before leaving the Crescent City, I checked out the spa located in the four-star Windsor Court Hotel at 300 Gravier St. and got a terrific Swedish massage accompanied by warm volcanic stones. Other treatments include a deep tissue massage and an align- ment massage that relaxes tightness and ten- sion in the muscles with assisted stretching. If you prefer facials, there are five to choose from, including a Celestial Black Diamond Nonsurgical lift facial that includes a unique peel. Amenities offered include a robe, san- dals, private locker, and the use of an infrared sauna and steam room. Guests also can use the whisper room where they can relax and meditate, as well as use the hotel's fitness center and outdoor pool during spa hours. My therapist, Mandy, was amazing, and you can call 504 596-4736 to schedule an appointment. They are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I also dined at Carmo's, a café and bar, which offers several delicious gluten-free and vegetarian options. Located at 527 Julia St., Executive Chef and Co-owner Dana Honn opened the business 13 years ago, and about 50 to 60 percent of his clientele are vegans and vegetarians. I ordered the Creole-seared avocado; vegetable curry with tofu; and the chocolate almond torte which was delicious and beautifully presented. Windsor Court

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