A Weekend in the Big Easy

  • DSC_0073.375_007_007newOrleansWindsor Court
  • DSC_0092.514_010_010newOrleansPolo Club Lounge at Windsor Court
  • Galatoire'sGalatoire’s
  • WW2-museumWorld War II Museum
  • ShoppinginLowerGardenDistrictonMagazineShopping in the Garden District on Magazine Street
  • rooseveltNewOrleansThe Roosevelt
  • ritz-newOrleans2The Ritz Carlton
  • The_Saint_Louis_Cathedral_-_New_Orleans,_LouisianaSt. Louis Cathedral

There is a tendency among travelers, myself included, to secretly hope that the places we love will never change. Some things are exactly how you remember them. New Orleans, as you know it, is still very much alive. Almost four years after the worst natural disaster in American history, New Orleans has revamped some of its favorites and almost all of the key visitor attractions are up and running. Neighborhoods like the French Quarter, the Warehouse District and St. Charles Avenue remain relatively undamaged. Jazz music still rules the city’s streets and there’s still a bit of Mardi Gras all year round.

Living in Jackson, New Orleans is an ideal weekend getaway. Just a short three hour drive and you are transported into the most celebrated city of the American South. Everyone has their favorite place to stay, their special restaurant and perhaps a watering hole that holds special memories for them.

What would I suggest as an ideal getaway in the “Big Easy”? Well….it depends on your specific interests….are you a history buff or music enthusiast….do you like to browse antique shops or shop for the latest fashions….or do you want to visit New Orleans primarily for its incredible selection of world-class restaurants? The choices stagger the imagination!

I would suggest an all-inclusive resort, where air, lodging, meals and golf activities are offered as one price. Depending on the season, there are certainly “deals” to be had and allow you the opportunity to tee off where some of the golf legends have thrilled crowds with their golf prowess.

Perhaps this itinerary would appeal to you….

Friday

Start the weekend early and check-in to the world famous Windsor Court. From the moment you arrive, the staff treats you like a visiting dignitary while showing you around the beautiful lobby and then to your fabulous deluxe room. The hotel is just a short walk from the Historic French Quarter.

You may then want to head to Galatoires, the grand dame of New Orleans’ old-line restaurants. They have been serving authentic French Creole cuisine for more than a century. Their delicious menu or staff never seems to change! After lunch, it is time to do a little power shopping to work off those calories!

Saks Fifth Avenue is always a favorite….the latest in fashion, jewelry, gifts, etc.is awaiting your purchase. And if you cannot find it there, visit the other array of shops at One Canal Place.

For you men (or women) that shopping doesn’t rock your boat, you may want to visit the National World War II Museum (formerly D-Day Museum)

By late afternoon, it is time to head back to the Windsor Court, freshen up and convene at their famous Polo Club Lounge, famous for its extensive martini menu.

Dinner plans for this evening are the main topic of conversation. One option may be Restaurant August, just a short distance from Windsor Court on Tchoupitoulas Street. It is famous for its ingredient-driven contemporary cooking in a decidedly old-world setting.

Saturday

Why not start your day with a stroll in the French Quarter and treat yourself to beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde, which is world famous for their beignets and chicory coffee and the people watching from the patio is superb.

Then head to Magazine Street. For shopping, dining or just casual strolling, no place in New Orleans outside the French Quarter beats Magazine Street. A six mile-long stretch of this Garden District and Uptown thoroughfare features some of the best antique stores, art galleries, craft shops and classy boutiques to be found anywhere in the city.

Try Mimi’s, known as the “Baby Bergdorf’s” of New Orleans. I would recommend St. James Cheese Company which is a superb place for lunch with a bewildering selection of cheeses and cured meats.

If all this shopping is wearing you out, you may want to visit Belladonna Day Spa, located on Magazine Street. It is a welcoming haunt with indulgent treatments such as the Thai Foot Ritual, an upgraded pedicure that includes traditional Thai stretches.

After being”buffed and puffed” head back to the Windsor Court for one of the city’s most beloved traditions, the Afternoon Tea in the gracious surroundings of Le Salon. Tea is served on delicate Wedgwood china and in the background, a harpist or a string trio performs. Just make sure you save some room for dinner this evening.

For your evening dining pleasure, may I suggest Stella! on Chartres Street. This restaurant’s claim to fame is to have the city’s most imaginative chef and the glazed sea bass is always a favorite. Also one of the most romantic dining rooms!

For a nightcap, try the Napoleon House which has the perfect Sazeracs and Pimm’s cups and plenty of atmosphere! Or head back to The Polo Lounge at Windsor Court Hotel to enjoy the nightly jazz lineup.

Sunday

After lounging around your luxurious surroundings at the Windsor Court, take a streetcar ride down St. Charles Avenue to view the “Garden District” which is noted more for its Victorian architecture than gardens. This streetcar is the oldest operating streetcar in the U.S.

For your last “hurrah”, why not treat yourself to brunch at the famous “Commander’s Palace” restaurant located on Camp Street in the Uptown area of New Orleans. Life doesn’t get any better than listening to a N.O. jazz quartet, sipping a milk punch and indulging in their truffled crab and eggs followed by their famous Creole bread pudding soufflé!

All too soon, your fabulous weekend has come to an end. It is time to roll back home after a weekend of pampering and sampling the renowned cuisine and culture of the Big Easy. No doubt the conversation on the way home will be centered around your next visit to New Orleans.

Where to Stay

Windsor Court Hotel

Virtuoso Amenities when Booked with VIP Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests in restaurant or via room service
  • Complimentary lunch for up to two in room guests, once during stay (excluding alcoholic beverages, taxes and gratuity)
  • 4 pm late check-out, subject to availability

The Ritz Carlton

Virtuoso Amenities when Booked with VIP Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full Breakfast for up to two in-room guests, in restaurant
  • A $50.00 Spa credit, once during stay
  • 4 pm late check-out, subject to availability

The Roosevelt

Just in time for the summer, The Roosevelt New Orleans is offering guests a special package designed to introduce them to the grand hotel, now a member of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. “The Roosevelt Returns” package includes a third night free when guests book two nights from $169 per night, or a suite from $199 per night, along with a welcome drink at the Sazerac Bar, known around the world as a destination for fine cocktails. This offer runs from July 26 through September 30, 2009

The W New Orleans, French Quarter

Virtuoso Amenities when Booked with VIP Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests, via room service
  • Relaxation Retreat Kit
  • 12 Noon early check-in, subject to availability
  • 4 PM late check-out, subject to availability
  • VIP Status

Where to Eat & Drink

Meauxbar Bistro (942 Rampart Street)

This quaint little neighborhood spot perfectly exemplifies what makes the French Quarter so special.

Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas)

Recently named one of the top 50 new American restaurants by Travel & Leisure. It brings a loving Cajun inflection in this new Warehouse District wine bar

Melange at The Ritz Carlton (921 Canal Street)

Every Thursday through Sunday, Jeremy Davenport performs jazz where you can swing to your heart’s content or at a minimum enjoy watching the professional dancers tear up the dance floor!

Iris (8115 Jeannette Street)

Intimate setting with emphases on fresh seafood and local produce.

What to See & Do

New Orleans School of Cooking

Located in the French Quarter, the cooking classes are taught by well known local chefs; skilled in the arts and traditions of Cajun and Creole cuisine. You will be treated to a wide range of local classics such as Jambalaya, Gumbo, Corn & Crab Bisque, and Pralines. Make sure Kevin is the “chef” on duty…he is so entertaining and worth the price of admission

Aquarium-Zoo Cruise

Short riverboat cruise that is a great way to see the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Zoo

National World War II Museum

The story of WWII soldiers is told through artifacts, film, photographs, diaries and oral histories.

St. Louis Cathedral

The city is instantly recognized by the cathedral and its position overlooking Jackson Square. The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.