LAKE CHARLES, La. – If les bons temps really do roulez in Louisiana, it’s a safe bet that the city of Lake Charles is where it all begins.
Lucky meeting planners and destination managers will soon be gathering in the southwest Louisiana city when Convention South’s 2021 Conference, Rendezvous South (May 10 – 12, 2021), takes place at the beautiful L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles. Making the good times and great deal-making opportunities possible and compliant with COVID-19 precautions, the event will be organized around socially-distanced, pre-scheduled 15-minute private meetings conducted in person between meeting planners and destination representatives. Local representatives are eager to roll out the welcome mat.
“We are ecstatic to be welcoming Rendezvous South,” said Taylor Beard Stanley, senior sales manager with Visit Lake Charles. “Get ready for some good food, good music, fun events, and great meetings.”
Besides the global pandemic, southwest Louisiana was battered by two back-to-back hurricanes in 2020, causing extensive damage throughout the area. The natural disasters forced L’Auberge Casino Resort to close its doors for a while. But as the city’s aggressive rebuilding and recovery process moves forward, the resort’s hotel sales manager Karen Kober sees a silver lining.
“The property has taken this opportunity to not only repair but to make changes and refresh areas,” she said.
When Rendezvous South takes place, Kober added, all rooms and suites will either be completely remodeled or refreshed, while the property’s restaurants will be revamped.
“Event planners that have had meetings with us before can expect the same great service and food that put southwest Louisiana on the map,” she said.
Founded in 1861, Lake Charles is southwest Louisiana’s cultural, industrial, and educational hub. In this city known for its confluence of cultures, it’s not uncommon to hear Cajun French conversations or authentic Zydeco music at the corner store or on the radio. Yet being just a two-step away from the Texas state line, Lake Charles has an impressive share of rodeos, cowboy boots, and some of the best Texas BBQ east of the Sabine River. As home to McNeese State University, Lake Charles has long been considered the region’s ‘college town.’ Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico also makes Lake Charles a significant commercial nexus. An estimated 55 million tons of cargo come through the area annually, and the Port of Lake Charles has been ranked as America’s 13th busiest.
But this is a town that also takes its fun and leisure side just as seriously as its business. Branded ‘Louisiana’s Playground,’ Lake Charles has world-class resorts and casinos, award-winning restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, incredible shopping, and many cultural offerings. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of marshes and wetlands for fishing, hunting, and communing with nature, the area is also a paradise for nature and sports lovers.
L’Auberge Casino Resort: Where the Rendezvous Begins:
Located on the city’s namesake’s shores, L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles is ideal for meetings and conventions. The resort has more than 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space and caters to every type of event, from major conventions to intimate gatherings. When it’s time to play, the resort’s 7,000-square-foot casino offers more than 75 gaming tables and 1,600 slots. Other amenities include:
– Entertainment: The L’Auberge Event Center is a 1,400-seat venue for big-name acts, while the 165-seat Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill is perfect for smaller performances.
– Food: No one goes hungry here. Try Chef Lyle Broussard’s award-winning Cajun and Creole creations at Food & Brews; go for some fusion fare at Asia; savor premium steaks and an extensive wine list at Ember Grille & Wine Bar; or belly up to an all-you-can-eat dinner at Le Beaucoup Buffet.
– Other Amenities: Golfers will love the resort’s 7,000-yard, par-71 championship Contraband Bayou Golf Course. Designed by famed golf course architect Tom Fazio, the greens have a lush backdrop of Louisiana marsh and lowlands. For other ways to ‘play’ at L’Auberge Casino Resort, the resort has a heated pool, lazy river, and an adults-only pool surrounded by luxury cabanas and a bar. The resort also has a wide array of stores and the popular Spa Du Lac for luxurious skin and body treatments.
Hit the Town
Beyond L’Auberge Casino Resort, there’s no shortage of things to do in Lake Charles. Just minutes from the resort, the scenic Shell Beach Drive and Margaret Place area is a perfect starting point for a tour of the city. The 1.75-mile stretch is lined with stately homes, ancient moss-draped oaks, and lush tropical gardens. Nearby, the Imperial Calcasieu Museum offers an extensive historical local exhibit and fine art gallery. The majestic 375-year-old Sallier Oak is located on the museum grounds. Survivor of some of the worst hurricanes in American history, the oak still stands, a strong, proud embodiment of resilience.
Lake Charles’ thriving downtown always has something happening. The 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center features international traveling exhibitions and creations by local and regional artists. There’s no shortage of eclectic shops, great dining, and exciting nightlife. For live music, there’s Luna and Rikenjaks, among other places. For leisurely walks or to catch that perfect sunset, check out the picturesque parks and picnic spots along the lake.
Commune with Nature
No visit to Lake Charles and its environs is complete without a stop along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. A federal and state-designated ‘scenic byway,’ the trail spans 180 miles through what’s called ‘Louisiana’s Outback’ Accessible but remote, wild and beautiful, the trail winds through marshes, wetlands, and sandy beaches, as well as four wildlife refuges. It is a must for any visit to the area.
Note: Many outdoor destinations were hard-hit by the hurricanes and some may still be closed or under repair. Check before visiting.
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