[ON LOCATION] LISA SIMUNDSON
With 70 events in 35 countries across the globe, Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) 2023 was more than a celebration in New Orleans. It was a confirmation of NOLA’s position as a premier destination for meetings and conventions.
“We are a meetings city, ‘built for hosting,’” said Stephanie Turner, sr. VP of convention sales & strategies for New Orleans & Company during a panel discussion with industry executives at
the host location, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. “Our community depends on meetings. We are the place where people come together.”
The Crescent City’s standing as an essential destination for meetings and conventions is taking on exciting dimensions as new group encounters come online and older venues meet the demands of the future.
• Producing more than $90 billion in total economic impact since opening in 1985, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is poised for a new century of development with a $557 million capital improvement plan that will refresh and expand interior and exterior spaces as well as add a headquarter hotel and a mixed-use development featuring Topgolf as its anchor tenant.
• The National World War II Museum recently added a nighttime light show, Expressions of America, highlighting individual soldier stories via their letters to and from home. The museum offers a variety of creative spaces for meetings, luncheons, receptions, parties and seated dinners of various sizes.
• Recently opened across from—and fully owned by—the National World War II Museum, the Higgins Hotel New Orleans, Curio Collection by Hilton is also fully nonprofit, with all proceeds going toward supporting the museum and its programming. All of the hotel’s 15,000 sf of meeting space, including a ballroom and breakout rooms, is located on the second floor, while a rooftop bar invites apres-meeting relaxation with sweeping city views.
• Housed in the former World Trade Center, the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans opened in summer 2021. Set on the banks of the Mississippi, the hotel offers a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, including level-three convention rooms incorporating the original floors from the Trade Center, a large outdoor lawn, and, at the hotel’s opposite end, a 34th-floor observation deck available for group functions.
• Accessible on its own or via the Four Seasons’ convention level, Vue Orleans offers 360-degree views of the river and city at its tower summit, while private group events take place there or at the second-level, interactive museum.
Overlooking the Mississippi at the Four Seasons Hotel, Chemin a la Mer features the flavors of Louisiana prepared in the French style, along with a private dining room for groups. Don’t miss the dazzling Chandelier Bar. A French Quarter favorite, the Palace Cafe, meanwhile, offers a veritable master class in Quarter cuisine, with turtle soup, catfish, Gulf oysters and shrimp galore among the selections. Private dining options for up to 500 are available.
A dining legend in the Quarter, Brennan’s once housed the Bank of Louisiana and before that was the private home of chess master Paul Morphy. Complete with a private garden, it still reflects the opulence of those colonial years as groups dine in private upstairs rooms that transport them directly to the 1800s.