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Hotel Review: Hyatt French Quarter New Orleans

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After leaving the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, we grabbed our bags (well, I grabbed my Tumi T-Tech) and wheeled them over to the Hyatt French Quarter.

Hyatt French Quarter exterior

Hyatt French Quarter exterior

Checking in

It was the height of Mardi Gras. The day before Fat Tuesday.

All of the hotels were on a wristband system and checking them at the door. And the staff at this location could not have been any more welcoming or gracious. Especially Magen (hope I spelled her name right). She was at the check-in desk and consistently provided amazing hospitality service at every turn. Kudos to the check-in staff here!

As soon as we wheeled through the door, the concierge at the door verified that we had a reservation, and we were able to walk right up to our room within minutes. It was one of the best check-in experiences I’ve had at a hotel: fun, quick, welcoming, and thorough. Really, they couldn’t have done a better job, especially considering it was a holiday in the city.

Upon walking in, I noticed the beautiful decor, the wine bar and breakfast/cafe area, and the fact that this is a small boutique hotel of only 4 floors (a far cry from the 30+ floors at the Hyatt Regency from earlier that morning!).

Upon walking through the doors

Upon walking through the doors

View of the lobby

View of the lobby

Powdered Sugar, the cafe/breakfast area

Powdered Sugar, the cafe/breakfast area

Seating inside Powdered Sugar

Seating inside Powdered Sugar

Batch, the wine bar/cocktail lounge

Batch, the wine bar/cocktail lounge

Hotel directory - only 4 floors

Hotel directory – only 4 floors

The room

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Get Me to NOLA – Part Three: Get Me Out of NOLA

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When last we left this saga, I’d made it to New Orleans. US Airways fulfilled their carriage contract and got me to my destination safely, which is all I ever want, really.

What this little “series” is mostly about is the way US Airways/the “new American” handled not just one situation (which I would’ve totally overlooked), but several, in a row, and how that reflects on their overall operations and company culture. That is really at the root of what I’m attempting to get at in what is hopefully a snarky, self-deprecating, maybe even funny, way.

This particular entry showcases my lack of forethought on this whole topic right in the title. I expected to write a one-off post, but when I started going over 1,100 hundred words I was like, holy crap, this is serial – and left the original title.

The Tumi T-Tech saw it all

Shoutout to the Tumi T-Tech that saw it all

Anyway, the return flight from MSY-CLT was fine (how’s that for anti-climactic?). We got to the airport extra early this time, as I wasn’t sure what US Airways had really done with my return flights – I’d be reticketed and reassigned and transferred so many times, I didn’t even know what my confirmation number was any more. Plus, I didn’t want to chance it (again).

I was still a little miffed about losing a layover at DFW – I really wanted the EQPs and to visit the Centurion Lounge again – but I had to miss out on all of that.

This segment was so by-the-book that it was nearly forgettable, which, in this case, is a good thing. Because I remember all of the other segments too well, unfortunately.

In fact, when I got to CLT and to the Admirals Club (see my review here), I kinda had the feeling that it was almost too easy, purely based on my previous experiences with US Airways.

And then the delays starting rolling in.

Air traffic

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency New Orleans

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After arriving hella late to New Orleans, me and my partner Jay hopped in a cab and made our way into the city. A cab from MSY to the French Quarter area is $33 flat each way, just FYI.

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans is about 6 blocks from the French Quarter, where most of the “action” of that blurry string of days took place.

I made a map!

I made a map!

As you can see on the map, New Orleans is chain hotel heaven. There are properties from IHG, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, etc.

The reason I picked this the Hyatt Regency is because I have an affinity for Hyatt, and because, over the circus that was Mardi Gras, I couldn’t find a block of consecutive days anywhere else. So, I had to move hotels – twice. But it’s good because I get to write about them now.

From my vantage point now, I liked the Hyatt Regency the best. It is a little off the well-worn French Quarter track, and isn’t particularly pedestrian friendly as it’s technically in the CBD (Central Business District), but I had no trouble getting around on foot. Might be a consideration for others, though.

Checking in

We bounced in at around 2:30pm. Check-in was supposed to be at 3pm, but judging from the constant stream of people going in and out, I could tell they might have trouble turning the rooms over so quickly.

We checked in on February 15th, and this image came to mind and made me lol:

The agent at the check-in desk told me the room wasn’t ready yet, but offered to take out bags and showed us where we could wait and grab a snack or a drink. How long would the wait be? I asked. 20 minutes. That’s nothin’. I was happy to try a New Orleans craft beer for a bit while the room got ready.

  We headed over to Borgne, the restaurant attached to the lobby. We were told that happy hour started at 3pm, but that we could order and ring everything in after 3pm. The happy hour was awesome! $3 local craft beers, $7 pitchers of sangria, $3 well drinks.   We ordered a pitcher of sangria (which was yummy and spicy), and I ordered a stout beer: the SPB Southern Prohibition Hipster Breakfast Oatmeal Stout, which is actually brewed in my home state of Mississippi. It was delish!

SPB Southern Prohibition Hipster Breakfast Oatmeal Stout - nom!

SPB Southern Prohibition Hipster Breakfast Oatmeal Stout – nom!

By the time that all went down, I went over to the check-in desk again and out room was ready by then. Perfect! So that is my check-in story. And here are some more pics.  Read More

Lunch at Muriel’s Jackson Square in New Orleans

Muriel’s Jackson Square, 801 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA

(504) 568-1885

www.muriels.com


Every time I go to New Orleans, I make sure to stop in at Muriel’s Jackson Square for lunch.

The first time I went to Muriel’s was in 2011, when I was in New Orleans for a birthday trip. It’s near a few voodoo/magick shops (Voodoo Authentica, French Quarter Gem and Lapidary, Esoterica – I like all that stuff), and after exploring for a few hours, was ready to grab some lunch.

It’s on the “northeast” corner (NOLA is kinda tilted, like Manhattan, but even more so) of Chartres and St Ann. What got me in was the lunch special… and the $4 lunch special martinis. Seeing that was like catnip, especially after coming from New York, home of the $16 martini.

On my recent trip to New Orleans, I went to Muriel’s again to continue the lunch tradition. It was as good as ever, even at the height of Mardi Gras madness. I wanted to share it with you guys.

Menu

Table at Muriel's

Table at Muriel’s

They focus on Southern/Cajun classics. It’s one of those places where everything on the menu is good – seriously, order anything, you can’t go wrong. I was really in the mood for catfish during this trip (had a catfish po’ boy and a couple other catfish dishes), but this one was unsurprisingly the best I had.

Here’s their lunch menu:

Muriel's lunch menu (click to enlarge)

Muriel’s lunch menu (click to enlarge)

They use high-quality ingredients and the dishes have huge flavor – lots of spices and richness and unexpected combinations. I got the Blackened Mississippi Catfish and my partner got the Crawfish Etouffee. The prices for the entrees are reasonable, especially considering the level of service they offer.

Blackened Mississippi Catfish

Blackened Mississippi Catfish

I love the presentation. And of course I had to get a round of dirty vodka martinis. They are delicious.

Martini

Martini

The menu is extensive and the food is delicious, which is important, but it’s all the other stuff that I love about this place.

Service and decor

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Get Me to NOLA – Part Two: A Middle Seat in Economy

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This is gonna be a histrionic, text-heavy post, I can just feel it. 

Faced with the prospect of spending 2 hours at EWR, I made my way to the Admirals Club – thank god there was one. Well, it was really a US Airways Club with the branding replaced. Everything about Terminal A in EWR is “US Airways.”

I thought maybe I could get some additional help with my routing and getting down to New Orleans in the Admirals Club. I explained that my check-in had flubbed and that I’d been separated from my companion. Not only that, but the plane had just left with my seat still available. And now, what were my options?

I said I was on standby for the next flight already. Was there anything else I could do? Any way to get a confirmed ticket – I’d even be willing to connect somewhere?

“The next flight to Charlotte after that one is at 1:15pm.” (7 hours after my original 6am flight, mind you.)

“I don’t want to wait that long. Could I connect somewhere else? Philadelphia, O’Hare…?”

“After the 1:15pm, we’re sold out for the rest of the day. You can try again tomorrow.”

Really. So at this point I was not feeling too great. So I grabbed some OJ, a yogurt, and a coffee, and wanted the Departures board like a hawk.

Before boarding, I made my way back to the gate agent before they got too overwhelmed for the flight I was hoping to get on.

“Just wanted to see if I’m having any luck getting onto this flight.” *presented my boarding pass*

The agent furrowed her brow and said, “Mmm. Hmmm. Ahhhh. Not looking too good.”

OK. “What can I do if I don’t get on this flight?”

While she plugged away at her computer, I pulled up flights on the American app. There was a 9:45am from LGA. I noted it mentally.

“Well,” she said finally. “You could always take the train to Philly. Yeah.” I’m not sure what kind of look I had outwardly, but I was thinking to myself, “You have got to be freaking kidding me.”

“You just take the AirTrain to [station] and transfer at [other station].”

“And how long does that take?”

“Two hours. If you leave right now…”

“But what if I get on this flight? And what about this 9:45am from LGA?” I read her the flight numbers.

“Oh, yeah. I see that. American flights,” and she chuckled to herself.

“Yes, American flights,” I confirmed.

“Oh, well that might work. Take a seat. But it’s not looking good.”

Moment of truth

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Get Me to NOLA – Part One: No Boarding Pass for You!

I need to vent.

If you don’t like to read about people bitching/whining, I don’t blame you. It can be annoying. But I gotta get this out. It’s also pretty text heavy. So feel free to skip this one. #disclaimer

A mess fit for a King (Cake)

So as you guys know, I went down to New Orleans this week for Mardi Gras. I spent most of it pretty indisposed, which explains why I had to brush away cobwebs around here just now.

With near-record lows in the Northeast lately, I was ready for any type of warmup, even if it was just up to the 50s (beats single digits!).

On Sunday, I was originally scheduled to fly LGA-DFW-MSY, which I was really looking forward to.

I wanted to gain some EQPs toward my AAdvantage Platinum Status Challenge, visit the Centurion Lounge @ DFW, and get to New Orleans before the Krewe of Bacchus – all of which would’ve been accomplished by this routing. Oh, and it was all on American metal.

So my heart sank a little when I got this email:

They're succinct, I'll give 'em that

They’re succinct, I’ll give ’em that

But life goes on.

I got re-booked to EWR-CLT-MSYall operated by our friends US Airways. But whatever, I wanted to stay optimistic, and maybe it would all be fine. At that point, I just wanted to get out of the city. Was not looking forward to EWR, or to CLT to be honest, and I knew I’d be giving up EQPs. But on I went. I would still make the first parade in plenty of time.

Then the beads hit the fan

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Just booked: New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

We have lost our minds here at the Out and Out headquarters in NYC (AKA me in my living room in Brooklyn) – and my dog is giving me the side eye for using the royal “we.”

I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras! (That is kind of a misnomer. “Mardi Gras” is a 3-week celebration. I am just going for the Baccus Parade and Fat Tuesday. But still – super stoked.)

How it happened

Really, I was just tinkering around on the Hyatt website looking at Category 3 and 4 hotels on a dark, snowy evening because that’s what points junkies do in the evenings, right?

But really, I had a free night cert from the Chase Hyatt Visa that I needed to use and wanted to maximize my value. I noticed, in the Category 3 list, the Hyatt French Quarter New Orleans. And then thought hmmm…. I wonder if…. (Basically a repeat of Oktoberfest booking.)

I couldn’t get the website to cooperate with redeeming the free night cert, so I called up Hyatt and a very patient agent plugged in a variety of dates surrounding Fat Tuesday (February 17th this year).

While she did that, I played around with points bookings with both Hyatt and Club Carlson (my two fave programs).

Paid $75 for the Hyatt card annual fee, getting back $315

Paid $75 for the Hyatt card annual fee, getting back $315

Hyatt French Quarter availability - 15,000 points or $500?

Hyatt French Quarter availability – 15,000 points or $500? #nobrainer

Now, I’d been saving my Club Carlson points for when I go to Ireland in May, but seeing that the Country Inn and Suites on Magazine Street in New Orleans was eligible for a BOGO booking sent me over the edge. I figure I can always manufacture some more Club Carlson points in the next couple of months, anyway. I still have my eye set on their Radisson Blu in Cork, Ireland.

Anyway, the Hyatt agent found a night at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans that was eligible for the free night cert. A quick Google search showed me that it was on the route for the Bacchus Parade. PERFECT.

But then, flights…

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