AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon Grand Opening

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Grand openings are exciting and today's event celebrating the first AC Hotel Marriott in the US was no exception. To the music of the Rebirth Brass Band, local and international dignitaries came to observe the unveiling of New Orleans' newest hotel. AC Hotels, with 80 properties throughout Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, was founded by Antonio Cantalan, a Spainard, who was in attendance today with his son, Carlos. I spoke to Narayan Patel, a partner with NewcrestImage, the  primary investors in the project, and he shared  with me the hotel's concept and some of its unique features. Mr. Patel said," The AC Hotel Bourbon was designed to have an "European boutique hotel feel" with modern tech amenities, an art and science focus, all within an urban setting." The owners transformed the historic 1871 Cotton Exchange into a sophisticated 220 room property. All of the AC Hotels have a first floor design that is  divided into three sections; the library(lobby/common area), the kitchen(restaurant area) and the lounge. This layout facilitates comfortable interaction among its guests with both open and intimate areas for work, dining or relaxation. Earth tones and strategic lighting create a "design driven" environment. The Lobby and the Petite Ballroom are accented with art from local artists to give the hotel's understated character some color and creativity. Guests will enjoy complimentary wifi throughout the facility. The management team is headed by Melisa Kennedy, with 20 years experience, who ensures that guests will receive first class, attentive service.

I toured the rooms and found them elegantly simple with "fabulous" beds and compact, well-appointed bathrooms. One of the most appealing features is the soothing "clean, floral" scent, a signature AC Hotel feature,  that is piped into all of the rooms. In addition a gourmet "Perugia" coffee by Torrefazione Italia is a standard amenity. A "feeling of calm" was my overall impression of the sleek, cosmopolitan guest rooms, somewhere you would look forward to coming to after a full day of business or sightseeing. The room rates range between $210 and $350 depending on the room type and season.

My last interview was with Charlie Berry, head of Beverage and Food and Alan Wilshire, head bartender. Mr. Berry shared the lounge area serves small plate dishes to compliment it's "hip" bar concept. Mr. Wilshire, the "cute" head bartender with 8 years experience, shared some of the innovative drinks and features of the hotel's lounge. He said this is New Orleans' first bar to serve "craft cocktails,"  two wines and a Proseco from a "tap." The "Vieux Carre," a New Orlean's classic, a "Rangoon Sour" and a "Rum Manhattan" are the first of his featured craft cocktails. He offered to let me try one but it was 11:00 in the morning and that's a little too early for me to have a drink!!

The AC Hotel Bourbon is a sophisticated, well-designed, comfortable new addition to the New Orleans hotel scene. The next time I'm in town this is definitely where I will be staying. For more information go to www.marriot.com/hotels/travel/msyac-ac-new-orleans.