Last weekend Mr. Jones and I met up in New Orleans for a quick dose of warmer weather. During our weekend getaway, we stayed two nights at the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel, located on Tchoupitoulas Street in the Arts District. We appreciated our taxi driving teaching us how to say Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-ih-too-liss) during our ride from the airport to the hotel.

Mardi Gras float in front of Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelWhen we booked this stay, we did not realize that Mardi Gras activities would be in progress, with some of the parade routes passing right in front of the hotel.

While Mardi Gras refers to Fat Tuesday, the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday — Tuesday February 9th, in 2016 — the celebration starts much earlier in New Orleans, with the first parades on January 6 this year.

Mardi Gras, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelAs we completed check-in at the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel, we were given a detailed schedule of the parades. You can also view the Mardi Gras parade schedule online.

We were assigned to room 435. Here is a look inside.

Room 435, Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel

The Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel is located in a former warehouse built in the early 20th century. While the warehouse has been transformed into luxurious rooms, the hotel still reflects its warehouse characteristics, such as the brick walls.

desk and tv, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelWhile many Renaissance hotels are eliminating the desks in their rooms, this hotel room still had one, along with a flat screen television, and hidden refrigerator in the cabinet below the TV.

king bed, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelOne of the things that Mr. Jones and I loved about this hotel was the comfortable king-sized bed. The comforter and the pillows — so soft and comfy — made it tough to get out of bed on Saturday. We could have slept here all day.

black bathrobe, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelWe found something unique in the closet – a black, plush terry robe. Only one, however, although I’m certain we could have requested a second robe.

bathroom, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelThe bathroom was standard with standard Aveda rosemary mint shampoo and conditioner.

bar, Legacy Kitchen, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelAfter getting settled into our room, we headed to the hotel bar for a Friday night cocktail. The hotel’s bar and restaurant is the Legacy Kitchen, which is described as “refined American fare as well as hand-crafted cocktails in a casual setting.” The bar features eclectic decor, such as the gambling wheel over the bar.

sofa and sign in Legacy Kitchen, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelMost unique was the artwork over the sofa in cocktail lounge portion of the Legacy Kitchen. Just after we arrived, the bar was preparing for crowds during the Mardi Gras parade that would pass by the hotel during the next hour or two.

They switched to plastic cups only, and a limited appetizer menu.

Duck chili cheese fries, Legacy Kitchen, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelMr. Jones was quite hungry, and he loved the duck chili cheese fries. Tasty, but they were not health food. (That might be a theme in New Orleans.)

crawfish and brie omelet, Legacy Kitchen, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelWe also enjoyed breakfast at the bar at the Legacy Kitchen on Sunday morning. Or perhaps it was considered “brunch.” Picture above is the crawfish and brie omelet, served with home fries. The omelet was slathered in so much rich sauce that it was served in a bowl. The home fries were a mix of oven-roasted potatoes that included sweet and purple varieties.

rooftop swimming pool, Renaissance New Orleans Arts HotelWe did check out the rooftop swimming pool that’s located on the fifth floor of the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel. There is a small gym on the same level. Not surprisingly, both were underutilized on a Saturday at the end of January when Mardi Gras activities were well-underway just outside the door of the hotel.

Our bottom line on the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel:

  • We loved the location at 700 Tchoupitoulas Street — near a number of top restaurants and bars. Check out Rebirth, Cochon and Emeril’s restaurants all within an easy walk, as is W.I.N.O and Tommy’s Wine Bar. The hotel is also close to the convention center and the cruise port.
  • There’s is the fun and funky Legacy Kitchen downstairs in the hotel.
  • Our hotel room was very comfortable, however being in a former warehouse, we heard lots of noise from the hallway.
  • Don’t confuse this hotel with the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel, a 1920’s high rise hotel that’s located closer to Bourbon Street and Jackson Square.
  • The Renaissance New Orleans Arts is a Marriott Rewards Category 8 hotel requiring 35,000 -40,000 points per night for a free stay.

What’s your favorite New Orleans hotel? Please share in comments below. 

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37 Fun Facts About New Orleans

by Janis on February 1, 2016

Although we have visited the New Orleans on multiple occasions, a recent weekend visit piqued our interest to do a little background research on this a port city that straddles the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana.

Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana37 Interesting Facts About New Orleans, Louisiana

1. Around 2200 B.C., silt deposited by the Mississippi River formed the land mass that later became the city of New Orleans.

2. Native Americans settled in the New Orleans area around 400 A.D., according to archaeological evidence.

3. Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded Nouvelle-Orléans (the city of New Orleans) on May 7, 1718, naming it after Philippe II, Duke of Orléans who was Regent of the Kingdom of France at the time.

4. Bienville chose the site of New Orleans due to its location along a sharp bend of the Mississippi River that created a natural levee against hurricanes and the flood-prone river.

5. The original city of New Orleans was built in a rectangle block that is today’s French Quarter; it was centered around the Place d’Armes (Jackson Square.)

6. In 1762, France’s Louis XV gave Louisiana to his Spanish cousin, King Charles III as a secret provision of the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau, confirmed the following year in the Treaty of Paris.

7. Spanish rule of New Orleans lasted only 40 years until Spain ceded control of the city back to France under the 1801 Treaty of Aranjuez and a royal bill issued by King Charles IV in 1802.

8. In April 1803, New Orleans became a part of the United States when Napoleon sold all of the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. under the Louisiana Purchase. The sale included 828,000 square miles of land that today makes up parts of 15 different U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

9. After the Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, and Africans. This growth was fueled by the global popularity of sugar and cotton, which were cultivated with slave labor on large plantations outside the city, and traded worldwide through the port and city of New Orleans.

The Battle of New Orleans.

The Battle of New Orleans.

10. During of the War of 1812, 11,000 British forces tried to capture New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson, with support from the U.S. Navy, cobbled together a motley military force to defeat the British troops in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815.

11. New Orleans continued as a destination for immigrants, with the city’s population doubling in the 1830s. By 1840, New Orleans had become the wealthiest and the third-most populous city in the United States.

Giant Steamboats at New Orleans, 1853.

Giant Steamboats at New Orleans, 1853.

12. Large numbers of German and Irish immigrants began arriving in the 1840s, working as laborers in the busy port which connected movement of goods by steamship up and down the Mississippi River to connect the Midwestern U.S. to Europe and other global ports. By 1860, the city had nearly 170,000 people.

13. During the American Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865, Union forces captured the city New Orleans on May 1, 1862 and occupied it during the rest of the war.

14. While the population of New Orleans continued to rise from the mid-19th century through 1960, more rapid economic growth shifted to other areas of the United States as construction of railways and highways replaced river traffic, decreasing New Orleans’ prominence.

15. Following World War II, many for black residents left New Orleans for better opportunities in West Coast destinations.

16. Today New Orleans has an estimated population of 384, 320 residents and is the most populated city in the state of Louisiana.

17. The City of New Orleans and Orleans Parish cover the same areas. (The state of Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes rather than counties.)

18. New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, not to be confused with Carnival. The Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, is the beginning of Carnival. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

19. Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans since the 1730’s but the first Mardi Gras parade of floats followed by a ball for the krewe and their guests occurred in New Orleans on February 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus.

20. The first Mardi Gras celebrated in the United States actually took place in Mobile, Alabama, in 1703, rather than in New Orleans.

21. The first opera in the United States, however, was performed in New Orleans in 1796.

22. New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz music, an “energetic or vigorous”mixture of African and Creole rhythms with European styles and instruments.

23. New Orleans barber Buddy Bolden is credited with inventing jazz music in 1891.

24. While Harrah’s New Orleans is the only land-based private casino with table games in the state by Louisiana law,  the city is considered to be the birthplace of both poker and craps.

25. New Orleans is home to Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world’s longest continuous bridge.

26. Because of the high water table, tombs in New Orleans’ cemeteries are located above the ground.

An aerial view from a United States Navy helicopter showing floodwaters around the entire downtown New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Louisiana Superdome is in the center.

An aerial view from a United States Navy helicopter showing floodwaters around the entire downtown New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Louisiana Superdome is in the center.

27. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome (commonly called The Superdome) — located in New Orleans’ Central Business District — covers a 13-acre expanse and has a diameter of 680 feet, making it the largest fixed domed structure in the world.

28. Beignets are a popular sweet treat in New Orleans made from deep-fried dough sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Other popular foods include muffulettas, red beans and rice, po’boys or gumbo.

29. Oysters Rockefeller was invented at Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

30. Cajun is the nickname for the French-speaking Acadians who migrated to Western Louisiana from Nova Scotia starting in 1755.

31. There’s no West, East, North or South directions in New Orleans. Instead, locals head Uptown, Downtown, Riverside and Lakeside.

32. The city of New Orleans is pronounced “New or-lins” or “new or-lee-yuns” but not “naw-lins” or “new orl-eens.” Both the parish and the avenue are, however,
pronounced “orl-eens.

33. The people who follow a brass band on the street while waving handkerchiefs in a circle above their heads in New Orleans are called second line. These folks do a special shuffle-step when they are following a band that is called “secondlining.”

34. Drinking alcohol on the street is allowed in plastic cups in New Orleans, so bars frequently provide patrons with plastic to-go cups.

35. Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s assassin, was born in New Orleans in 1939.

Louis Armstrong, jazz trumpeter from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz music.

Louis Armstrong, jazz trumpeter from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz music.

36. New Orleans is the birthplace of singer Louis Armstrong, writers Truman Capote and Anne Rice, as well as TV personalities Reese Whiterspoon and Ellen DeGeneres.

37. Elisha Archibald “Archie” Manning III  played quarterback for New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1982, and raised his two famous quarterback sons — Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Eli Manning of the New York Giants — in New Orleans.

What ‘fun fact’ can you add about New Orleans?

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Exploring Grand Turk Beyond the Cruise Center

January 27, 2016

Before we visited Grand Turk on a 7-Day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam, I did some research on the Turks and Caicos Islands. We’d visited Grand Turk several times before on other cruises, but had never left the 18-acre cruise port developed by Carnival Corporation. After writing this post: 33 Fun Facts About Turks and […]

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A Look Around the Grand Turk Cruise Center, Turks and Caicos

January 25, 2016

Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands archipelago and it is located 575 miles Southeast of Miami, Florida, and 30 miles south of the Bahamas. In 2006, Carnival Corporation opened the $50 million Grand Turk Cruise Center on the southern end of Grand Turk Island. The entire island is approximately seven miles […]

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