OCT 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 22 of 67

O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 23 I first met Emily Liuzza in the fall of 2014, when she showed me around what was then the W New Orle- ans and explained all the exciting changes the prop- erty was undergoing. At that time, much of the property, located in the Central Business District but near both the French Quarter and the Warehouse Arts District, was draped with plastic sheets as its transformation to becoming Le Meridien New Orleans was underway. When I returned to the property in September, it was dra- matically changed and Liuzza, now Complex Marketing Manager for Le Meridien New Orleans, was very enthusiastic about the achievements of the redesign, a multi-million-dollar project completed in 2015. "It has been very exciting to be a part of bringing the brand (Le Meridien) back to this city," she said. "It has been great to integrate Le Meridien's French roots with the French heritage of this city." (The first Le Meridien property was developed in Paris in 1972 by Air France as "a home away from home" for its travelers. While New Orleans previously had a Le Meridien, the brand had not been represented in the city since the early 1990s.) In keeping with Le Meridien's tagline, "Destinations Unlocked," the Crescent City hotel focuses on three filters of discovery: coordinates, culture and cuisine. Liuzza explained that Longitude 90, one of three on-site food and beverage outlets, refers to the city's geographical coordinates. Additionally, the artwork is inspired by the cartography and geography of New Orleans as seen from an aerial perspective. Several design elements in the carpeting and on the walls refer to the way the Mississippi River borders New Orleans. The ceilings of the 410 redesigned guest rooms display the city's street grid marked with dots representing the distribution of parade watchers during Mardi Gras. The city's unique culture is not only represented in the hotel, with displays and books by local artists, it is extended to guests through the Unlock Art program, which offers free admission to three art museums in the city. The hotel also has bikes which can be rented to explore the city on two wheels. Additionally, the brand's signature Le Méridien Hub design has created a lobby that is a social gathering place. Very open, airy and modern, this area invites people to relax and read art and travel books that surround comfy couches or gather at tables with charging stations to work together on projects. For the cuisine aspect, LMNO is the destination restaurant featuring New Amer- ican cuisine with Cajun and Creole touches, but innovative flavors and creative presentation are also a key offering for meetings and conferences, Liuzza said. A signature cocktail, the sparkling Sazerac, and a signature Bananas Foster é clair, add another local touch. Liuzza pointed out that the property en- joys a ratio of 60 percent meetings business to 40 percent leisure travelers so the renova- tion placed a major emphasis on redesigning existing meeting space and added 1,600 square feet of new event space, bringing the total to 20,000 square feet. There is also an outdoor courtyard which can be used for private events. "The decor of the meeting spaces mixes contemporary chic with the city's French heritage and was designed to inspire cre- ativity and interaction among meeting participants," Liuzza said. "We also work with groups to develop authentic New Orleans' experiences, creative breaks and unique team building activities that incorporate local art and cuisine." n N&R Site Visit By Marcia Bradford LeMeridien New Orleans: Designed With A French Flair tination is expected to be ready to showcase the grandeur of its restoration in late December. "The new update adds a modern look to the classic Old Florida resort," said S. Drew Toth, director of sales and marketing. "Guests also will enjoy the refreshed appearance of our six outdoor venues." The resort's Classic Spanish Colonial archi- tecture is central to the restoration with two championship golf courses, three restaurants, two lounges and poolside bar. The property emphasizes recreation with eight tennis courts, a trap- and skeet-shooting range, jogging and bicycling trails, volleyball courts, outdoor pool and hydro-spa, fitness center, and a full-service nautical center with 52-slip marina, fishing, and boating. For complete relaxation, attendees can indulge themselves with the Mission Inn's Spa Marbella, offering five private treatment rooms, two steam rooms, private separate lounges for men and women, plus three ma- nicure and two pedicure stations. Moving Past Traditional Event Spaces Sometimes as a planner, you want your events to stand out from the crowd and go a step beyond traditional, which is just what you will find when planning events at Paddle- fish, part of Disney Springs. "We find that our planners are looking to provide guests with an outside-of-the-box experience, that goes beyond your traditional hotel meeting room or space," said Marian Ream, director of sales at Levy Restaurants. "Our venue is one-of-a-kind, unique, and offers events that create a 'buzz.' Planners also love the fact that our space is bright and airy, and offers a generous view of Disney Springs and the lake from our expansive exterior deck on the rooftop. From breakfast, breaks, lunch or dinner meetings, Paddlefish is an extraordinary option for private or group events." n The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach NEW & RENOVATED Sites In The South! The Cavalier

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