Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Meeting" A Grande Dame

"You must see the Roosevelt Hotel's Lobby," said our Visitors' Center resource person with emphasis. This strong recommendation was heeded on an earlier visit to New Orleans in December.

Now, several years later, we made it a point to see the lobby's winter scene.

"A favorite tradition for everyone who grew up in New Orleans is taking a walk through the Roosevelt Hotel Lobby in December. This lobby runs for an entire city block...and features a spectacular display of holiday wonderland decorations, as luxurious and memorable as the historic property itself.

"This year, the Waldorf Wonderland Lobby...is transformed into a canopy of white birch branches and thousands of twinkling lights along with a nostalgic look at some of New Orleans great eateries, enhancing the already spectacular holiday extravaganza.

"The lobby will also be lined with Christmas trees decorated with bows and ornaments, poinsettias and other holiday-themed displays. The festive, free attraction is a favorite near and far and is open to the public.

“'The Waldorf Wonderland Lobby is a must-see for visitors and locals,' said General Manager Tod Chambers. 'It’s our way of giving back to the community and recognizing that New Orleans is already a magical destination, made a bit more appealing at The Roosevelt Hotel'" (therooseveltnew orleans.com).

Pushing carts laden with luggage, hotel staff had to navigate the distance from the entrance to the registration desk and then the elevator, while deftly avoiding visitors and photographers filling the marble-clad walkway.

"The original Roosevelt Hotel had this name from 1923 to 1965. Before that, it was the Grunewald Hotel, and in the 1960s it became the Fairmont Hotel. But at all times it was quintessen-tially New Orleans.

"The Christmas decorating tradition at the Roosevelt dates to the 1940s, when the hotel created an angel hair lobby by covering the ceiling with white angel hair, glowing lights and hanging ornaments--and filling the lobby with Christmas trees, toys, wrapped presents, elves, angels and a child-size gingerbread house.

"When the hotel reopened as the Roosevelt, many people were eager to revisit the lobby. In the new Christmas display, the angel hair was replaced by a canopy of white birch branches decorated with lights and flocked, decorated fir trees" (bestofnew orleans.com}.

"After years under the Fairmont umbrella, the 504-room hotel, now part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, underwent a $145 million renovation after Hurricane Katrina and reopened in late 2009.

"In a city that has more than its share of historic hotels, the Roosevelt, which originally opened in 1893, is the only New Orleans hotel that truly deserves the title of grande dame" (concierge. com/travelguide/new orleans).

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