Corporate meetings with panache: A site visit to Hotel Mazarin in New Orleans

ConventionSouth's Marcia Bradford visits with Hotel Mazarin's director of sales Tara DiPascal.
ConventionSouth’s Marcia Bradford visits with Hotel Mazarin’s director of sales Tara DiPascal.

There were so many aspects of Hotel Mazarin I enjoyed during a three-night stay in early March, but perhaps my favorite was how I felt like I had a welcoming home right in the heart of New Orleans. While this boutique property is in close walking distance to numerous Big Easy attractions, it also offers a private spot to focus on business or to relax.

From the moment I stepped into the beautiful Queen Anne Courtyard in the center of the hotel, I began to experience the intimate charm of this pretty place—also known as “the Diamond of the French Quarter”—and this feeling continued throughout my visit. My guest room was elegant and surprisingly spacious for an accommodation in the quarter, the vibe was fun and friendly, and the venues and facilities for meetings, special events, and simple socializing were attractive and inviting.

These attributes combine to make the Hotel Mazarin a very popular spot for corporate groups, said Tara DiPascal, director of sales, as we toured the property.

“It’s what a lot of people envision when they think of visiting New Orleans,” she remarked as I admired the fountain, the wrought iron railing, the gas lanterns, and so many other design details that are iconic to this historic city. “This property is very popular with corporate groups because it’s right in the heart of the French Quarter and it looks and feels like old New Orleans, but it also offers a quiet oasis and its size allows all the groups who meet here to feel like they are number one.”

This is certainly the case for Golden Artists Colors, a New Berlin, NY-based firm that has held its company training program at Hotel Mazarin for the past nine years. According to Kevin Greeland, education program manager, Golden Artists Colors brings about 20 artists from around the world each year for a week of training in the use of their products. In addition to staying at the hotel, the participants use classroom space and their artwork is displayed in varying stages during their stay.

Live jazz music at 21st Amendment in New Orleans' Hotel Mazarin.
Live jazz music at 21st Amendment in New Orleans’ Hotel Mazarin.

Among the reasons the group chose Hotel Mazarin and comes back year after year, Greeland cited the central location to music venues, restaurants, bars, and nightlife that are all within walking distance and are capable of accommodating a group of 30 are essential.

“The Mazarin is charming with the inner courtyard for dinning, the rooms exude the charm of New Orleans, and Tara herself is just as charming,” he said. “The staff is easy to work with and treats everyone like family. Also, the chef (Agnes Bellet) is divine, providing us with delicious meals.”

Unique Corporate Spaces

DiPascal said the types of corporate groups who tend to gather at Hotel Mazarin include auto, oil and gas, medical, cosmetic, and other consumer products. The property, which was entirely renovated in 2011, attracts meeting participants from all over the U.S., as well as a few international groups who like the site for board of directors’ meetings, retreats, training sessions, and receptions, she explained.

With 102 guestrooms, meeting space for up to 140 participants and dining facilities that can accommodate up to 175 people, the hotel offers property-wide buyouts.

“One beverage group bought out the hotel for their meeting, which was scheduled to coincide with Tales of the Cocktail, an annual New Orleans event,” said DiPascal. “But we can host more than one group at a time and many groups find the ‘sweet spot’ is a meeting with about 75 attendees.”

The largest indoor space is La Louisiane, named after the fine dining restaurant that opened there in 1881. Some of the interior features include brick and wood accents that date back to 1837 when the building was originally constructed as a luxurious townhouse. This room has a pull-down screen and can hold up to 90 people for meetings. When combined with the entrance area, which is often used for breaks and social events, it can fit 120 for a luncheon. It also features beautiful black and white photos of New Orleans by a local artist.

Those groups who want to add an event with a Roaring ’20s theme can use the special entrance to 21st Amendment, a speak-easy style bar, known for its craft cocktails.

“This is one of the only bars in the French Quarter that still offers live jazz every night,” said DiPascal. “This was very important to the owner, who bought the property in 2010. He wanted a return to the era when people could go hear live jazz at small spots in the quarter.”

This space, which opens up to the street in nice weather, can also be reserved for small functions (up to for people).

The Cardinal Room is a smaller space that holds up to 40 classroom style and is also used for special dinners. DiPascal pointed out it can be blacked out for privacy.

“We have one oil company that likes this feature so their participants can focus and not be distracted,” she said.

This space also opens to the Queen Anne Courtyard, which is often used for lunch meetings, cocktail hours, weddings, and receptions.

Patrick's Bar is a popular spot in New Orleans' Hotel Mazarin.
Patrick’s Bar is a popular spot in New Orleans’ Hotel Mazarin.

DiPascal pointed out the open-air courtyard has air conditioning, fans, and a canopy of trees, which keeps it at least 10 degrees cooler than being out on the streets during the warmest time of the year. There are also portable heaters for the short periods of time when New Orleans experiences cooler weather.

Breakfast is served daily in the Louis XVI Room, which can be used for afternoon breakout sessions. Also, there are two large suites, the Fleur de Lis Suite and the Presidential Suite, which are used for receptions and breakout sessions. Custom catering menus are prepared by an acclaimed executive chef, Agnes Bellet, a native of France who has been at the helm of the Hotel Mazarin culinary team for more than 35 years.

One additional onsite venue that should not be overlooked is Patrick’s Bar Vin, which features an impressive wine list and an extraordinary host, Patrick Van Hoorebeek, who came to Mardi Gras more than 30 years ago and decided to stay. The bar is decorated with interesting items from his native Belgium and has lots of cozy seating areas. If one gets the chance to chat with Patrick, who is also King of the Krewe de Cork, they will hear a lot of interesting stories about New Orleans.

For smaller groups who want to be located together there are 21 guestrooms located along a section of the second floor, which has its own courtyard and offers an intimate home-like feel.

According to DiPascal, some groups specifically request this space, including one woman who holds an annual yoga retreat at Hotel Mazarin.

During my stay, a wedding group was holding most of its functions at the hotel, which provided me the opportunity to see some of the ways the property can host an event while also accommodating individual guests. At no time did it feel crowded or noisy, just fun and energetic. The size and the special public spaces allow for a lot of friendly interaction among guests and when one wants to step out into the activities in the French Quarter, they are just outside the door.

Hotel Mazarin is part of the J Collection, which includes 19 unique, locally owned and operated hotels with more than 2,050 rooms situated throughout New Orleans and the surrounding region. Each property holds a distinctive style and personality all its own, yet all offer an authentic experience, steeped in the rich culture, charm, and electricity of the Crescent City.

 

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