Tourism to New Orleans continues to rebound, as the Big Easy is seeing strong visitor and hotel occupancy numbers. In 2011, the city saw 8.75 million visitors, which is more than any year before Hurricane Katrina, according to the city's visitors bureau.
Coming off the city’s peak season -- marked by Mardi Gras and the ever-popular Jazz Fest -- rates have been high at hotels around the French Quarter, Garden District and central business district. This has been fueled in part to growing convention business -- NOLA is now No. 10 in the list of convention cities in the United States, according to U.S. Travel.
As a result, deals have been hard to come by. But a deal we published this week in the Top 20 stands out.
Katrina and its aftermath left the city reeling and tourism numbers plummeted. Although this was partly due to skittishness about visiting a city torn asunder by Mother Nature, damaged hotels and limited room inventory also was a factor.
The Hyatt Regency New Orleans was an example of this. The nearly 1200-room hotel in downtown New Orleans has long been a major player in the hotel scene, but was shuttered after being battered by Katrina. Many of the hotel's windows were blown out, and the hotel needed a massive overhaul.
After six years, a complete redesign and $275 million renovation, the Hyatt reopened in October with a new entrance, contemporary design and a restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh. We’re publishing our first deal from this hotel this week -- for $109 per night through summer. What’s especially great about this offer is that weekends are included -- which often cost twice as much as weeknights in the Big Easy.
So make sure to set your summer vacation schedule to include New Orleans. Beyond Bourbon Street lies a city rich with Cajun culinary creations; 24-hour funk, blues and soul; and picturesque, walkable neighborhoods near the French Quarter. The Big Easy is back -- and deals like this Hyatt Regency offer are a great way to get back (or experience for the first time) this one-of-a-kind city.