By Regina Lynch-Hudson
Blissful destination: New Orleans is, hands down, one of the top U.S. cities for unwrapping a joyous itinerary of Christmas and New Year’s festivities. Literally hundreds of activities kick-off during “Christmas, New Orleans Style,” a month of merriment that traditionally flows throughout December. The frolicking land of Mardi Gras, New Orleans lures tourists year-round with its award-winning Creole and Cajun cuisine and a culturally diverse vibe, influenced by African, Creole, French, Irish and Spanish immigrants.
Pillow Talk: Don’t you just love folks who go all out for your arrival? The Roosevelt Hotel (a part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts) knows how to extend a warm welcome as the brand is synonymous with grandeur. Guests are seduced from the moment they enter the golden doors. During the holiday season, the hotel’s pageantry draws tourists from neighboring hotels who gather to pose and take photos amid the parade of Christmas trees and bright lights. Centrally located a block from Canal Street and the French Quarter, the hotel’s convenient location allows for a holiday on foot. therooseveltneworleans.com
Food Fetish: You’ll never meet a stranger or dine alone in New Orleans. When my husband and I met Bonnie Warren for breakfast at Brennans Restaurant, the former editor of New Orleans Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens and Metropolitan Home wowed us with fascinating tales of New Orleans’ lore, as she nudged us outside our comfort zone on menu selections. Before sampling Turtle Soup, Bonnie convinced me that reptile is not red meat. I timidly took a bite of the tomatoe-y, meaty tasting soup before deciding that Crepes Fitzgerald was more to my liking. Who can resist Crepes filled with cream cheese and sour cream, served with a topping of strawberries flamed in Maraschino for breakfast? brennansneworleans.com
Café Adelaide is the place to partake of a superb holiday feast. The ever-changing Christmas menu flaunted a mouthwatering lineup: Herb Roasted Turkey with oyster dressing, Yukon gold potatoes, brussel sprouts, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce. I vowed to try just one teaspoon of Pear & Apple Gallette, a medley of bourbon roasted Bosc pears and apples, salted caramel and cinnamon rum ice cream. But, one bite led to an empty dish. cafeadelaide.com
Dinner at the historic (and reportedly haunted) Muriels (muriels.com) was yet another unforgettable delight. The original owner, Monsieur Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, hung himself in the dimly lit restaurant, or so the story goes. Not exactly a romantic notion for such a romantic and seductively decorated restaurant. Shrimp & Goat Cheese Crêpes, followed by Pan Roasted Half Chicken diverted my attention away from the vision of a jaunty Frenchman dangling from a rope above my head. In the upper level Séance Lounge of the 5-star-worthy Muriels, I immersed myself in a spirit world festooned with elaborate décor.
Ahhh ecstasy: The Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt Hotel is only one of three locations in the country — making it a must-do. The Waldorf Impériale — a 110-minute body and facial massage proved to be sheer heaven. Next came the Hydrotherapy treatment where sequentially controlled jets massaged my entire body. Warning husbands: The experience could find you bankrolling a home spa renovation in your own abode.
Dancing On Air: There’s no question as to whether you’ve been naughty or nice — after you’ve barhopped along Bourbon Street, overindulged in New Orleans’s cuisine, and danced like no one was looking at one of the city’s honky tonk joints. No dance is complete without a couture gown from award -winning Harold Clarke Couturier. Clients from Patti Labelle to Vivica Fox and Vanna White fly into New Orleans to be fitted by the Jamaican-born Clarke. haroldclarke.com
Footloose & Fancy Free: New Orleans is a thriving center for voodoo practitioners, and you can’t leave without a booking with a psychic, or tarot card reader. After running my credit card and ogling me from head to toe, my pricey fortune teller revealed, “You like beautiful things; you are a woman with vision; you’re a seeker of adventure.” Do tell.
Blissbehavin’ In ™and Doing Biz In ™ alternate between coverage of top bliss destinations where readers go to play and select biz venues where readers conduct business and indulge in leisure activities. Publicist/travel writer Regina Lynch-Hudson has developed articles, and destination marketing concepts for countless airlines, venues and tourism boards. www.thewritepublicist.com