This trip was a business trip, and the Sheraton New Orleans was both the convention site and lodging. I stayed there for four nights. The hotel is located directly on Canal Street smack between the French Quarter and the Garden District. This hotel had many sustainable aspects that I had not yet seen in other hotels. While many hotels have been doing the "do we really need to change your linen every day" thing, Sheraton New Orleans has gone much further. The hotel has replaced their fluorescent and incandescent lights with CFL and LED lights; this not only saves on the electricity to power the lighting but the heat load for the space, requiring less air conditioning (I'm an energy conservation director, professionally, so I know what I'm talking about). The guest rooms and other spaces are equipped with occupancy sensors that are tied into the lighting and HVAC -- if the space is unoccupied, the lights are turned off and the heating, cooling and ventilating are reduced or turned off, saving energy. The faucets, fixtures and showerheads are low flow, saving potable water consumption (more about the water later in this review). They have a recycling program that includes the guest rooms -- this is the first hotel I have stayed in ever that had a recycling bin in the room! The hotel does not purchase or use styrofoam (which is not recyclable). You can do all your hotel business electronically (they emailed my receipt to me). The housekeeping staff use fewer chemicals to provide a healthier guest environment and reduced environmental impact. Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) products are used, for the same reason. The hotel is 100% non-smoking (more about this later).
What were the negatives about the sustainability program? Very few. The shower produces very little water pressure for hot water (plenty for cold), meaning that you have to step away from a hot shower when someone in an adjacent room flushes the toilet (reminds me of my Army days) because the cold water disappears completely and you find yourself under a scaling hot shower for a few seconds (ouch!). The toilet flushes liquids fine but has a challenge flushing solids (including tissues) -- a dual flush system would have been a better choice -- save the power for the solids and keep the low flow for the liquids -- I had to flush more than once with the low flow as the only choice so in the end, it doesn't save water resources, at leats not in my room, it didn't. That's it for the negatives.
How about the sustainable positives? This hotel has these very highly technical elevators that were very impressive. You press in the numbers for the floor you want to go to and the system chooses the elevator that can most efficiently take you there, and tells you which elevator to go to. You can't pick another elevator, either. Your floor has been programmed into the elevator dispatched to you. You step in and it is a bit disconcerting at first, you want to press the button for your floor, and there are no buttons except emergency buttons once inside. The floor numbers that the elevator will stop at appear on an LCD screen to the side of the doorway. The elevators (which cover 49 floors) lift very quickly (ear pressure popping, too) but smoothly, and quietly, and in seconds, truly, you are at your destination. Very efficient, not only from an energy use standpoint but from a get-the-guest-to-their-destination-fast standpoint, too. Sweet!
The hotel lobby has a Starbucks (the coffee in your room is Starbucks, too), a very nice lounge, lots of areas for people to sit and meet or read the paper, multiple free computer workstations where registered guests can use the computer for free for a max of 15 minutes per session and print their boarding passes (no color printing), a very helpful concierge desk manned from 7AM until 11PM, a FedEx center, gift shop and more amenities.
The hotel rooms have beds with luxurious comforters and linens, wonderfully soft pillows and mattresses that I personally found painfully hard. They have a wall thermostat that controls the air and heat (maximum of 80 degrees). The windows are wall to ceiling with shutters to control privacy and light. Some rooms have fridges, many do not (mine did not). All rooms have alarm clocks with radios, what seemed like a 50-inch flat screen TV, work desk with a data and power console for computers, coffee makers, ice bucket, bottles of nothing-fancy water (which appeared to be free but shockingly weren't, when I checked out and got charged for them; to me, the word "compliments" means I don't get charged for it, but I was charged for it), a data and power jack on the bedside table, a safe, ironing board and iron, hair dryer, complimentary (yes, these actually were free) shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and lotions, a very nice makeup mirror, nice thick towels, etc. There is a soda vending machine and ice machines on every guest floor near the elevator banks.
Dogs are not permitted here (you can stay at the LaQuinta on Camp just two blocks away if you want to come here with dogs -- see my earlier review on that hotel).
Why is this such a good location? Well, Canal Street runs along the perimeter of the French Quarter and the Garden District, the two most visited areas of New Orleans. The popular streetcars run along Canal Street right in front of the hotel and the St Charles streetcar line (which goes through the Garden District) is just two blocks away, The Riverfront streetcar line (which runs along -- you guessed it -- the river front, as in the mighty Mississippi River) is just 6 blocks away (the Canal Street line stops there). You can get a day pass for the streetcars (don't call them trolleys or cable cars -- you will be soundly corrected by Noleans) for $3.00 per person (exact cash change, no credit cards, no change) and use it on all the streetcars and all the buses. The St Charles line runs into the Garden District (which looks sort of yucky at first when you leave Canal Street but be patient because the beautiful Victorian and Southern mansions will soon appear) and passes Audobon Park where the Audobon Zoo is housed (went there several years ago -- very nice), and past Tulane University. The Audobon Insectarium (relatively new) is located on Canal on the way to the riverfront (about 5 blocks from the hotel). If you are into casinos, Harrah's Casino is also located at the riverfront. The Audobon Aquarium is located on the riverfront, along with the ferry (free) that will take you to Algiers, the island across the Mississippi that has the mardi gras museum (the museum is interesting but the part of the island that you see between the ferry dock and the walk to the museum is pretty ugly, and nothing else to do there except the museum). The convention center and the Riverwalk Shoppes (a shopping mall) are there. If you need a 24 hour drug store or convenience store, CVS is located 5 blocks on Canal from the hotel (away from the river) and Walgreens is located 7 blocks on Canal (also away from the river). There are multiple places to eat along Canal, most expensive (I heard there were good). I was on a budget, so I had breakfast at the IHOP on Canal about 8 blocks from the hotel, and ate once at the McDonalds on Canal (about 3 blocks from the hotel). NOLA is known for its muffalatas and po-boys (po'boys are like open subs or grinders), and there are plenty of places in the French Quarter that serve them. Many of the bars also serve food. I had a good po'boy at one of the bars and tried a muffalata at the French Market (located at the eastern end of the Riverfront streetcar line) in the French Quarter. The French Quarter is fun at night and strikingly ugly during the day time. NOLA's French Quarter has a large "residentially challenged" population and, sorry to say it, filthy streets and sidewalks in the unforgiving light of day.There cobblestones sidewalks and streets there are badly in need of repair (and repair work was indeed going on during my entire visit) but it is wise to be watching where you are stepping because trip hazards abound. The "residentially challenged" can be rather aggressive about trying to get you to support their lifestyle (or lack of it) and Noleans seem to accept it but a tourist I found it unpleasant having anyone, challenged or not, sticking their dirty smelly face right in mine while I was eating at a outdoor cafe and asking me for money. Early in the morning, and all through the day actually, I saw people sleeping in doorways. Just keep your money out of plain view (wise no matter where you are) and don't be surprised if you are approached every block by someone. The French Quarter has not only the French Market (with flea market stalls and farmer's market stalls and places to eat) but the bars (many rowdy) and restaurants and strip clubs. It also has a surprising amount of fine art galleries and neat shops. Jackson Square has artists displaying their wares on the fences (some of it is very good) and fortune tellers (strictly for entertainment value) and street musicians. Street musicians are all over the French Quarter and some are on Canal Street. Just about all of the street musicians were very talented, too, and many of them sell their music on CD (I bought three different albums, that's how good they are). The French Quarter allows drinking in the street except the booze must be in a can or a plastic cup, no glass bottles. The once thing I hated as a non-smoker who came from a state that prohibited smoking in all public places including restaurants and bars in 2000, is that smoking is allowed in the bars here. I left two bars after just half a beer when a walking ashtray sat next to me and blew their filthy exhaust in my hair and face. I enjoyed live music in a bar and made it through a whole beer before another walking ashtray parked their carcass next to me and proceeded to infect me with second hand smoke again. Blehh. Kind of a downer. Interestingly enough, during this visit, the news discussed how NOLA is proposing an ordinance to prohibit smoking in bars but opponents in the legislature said they didn't want it because they couldn't spare the police to enforce it. I personally do not plan to visit another bar ever again in NOLA until they do pass it -- fingers crossed.
Oh, for sports fans, the French Quarter has lots of TVs tuned into sports, and the SuperDome is not a walk away but a short taxi ride away (you pass it when you get off I-10 on your way to the hotel). And the TV in the hotel has a plethora of sports channels.
The hotel TV also has pay movies, HBO and the usual cable lineups.
If you are a registered guest, you can get free internet (which you can only receive in your room, not in the lobby or in the meeting spaces) for up to five days for up to three devices. It worked reliably.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is near the French Quarter, Royal Street, and Jackson Square. Our hotel is ideal for conventions, with over 100,000 sq ft of meeting space and a 30,000 sq ft ballroom. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sheraton New Orleans Hotel New Orleans
- New Orleans Sheraton