There are few things more signature New Orleans than gracious hospitality coupled with a colorful flourish. Counted among its treasured landmarks is Windsor Court Hotel, a property that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, while maintaining its classic warm welcome.
According to General Manager Ralph Mahana, protecting the original soul of the sprawling 316-room hotel was paramount throughout its recent evolution–what meets the eye is new, shiny, and modern while its English roots run deep, never lost on guests. Here, Mahana gives us an inside look at the brand new Windsor Court and all its charms, new and old.
Tell us about Windsor Court and its recent renovation.
In October 2018, we completed a $17 million renovation of several areas of the hotel. All 316 accommodations were refreshed to add a touch of modernity while maintaining the traditional charm Windsor Court is known for. We focused on upgrading amenities for easier functionalities. In addition to sleeping rooms, our grand ballroom, La Chinoiserie, and Club Lounge were also refreshed. The Spa at Windsor Court was the last phase of the renovation which was completed last month. The Spa was expanded to add a relaxation room and a larger ladies locker room. But the most exciting part of The Spa’s renovation was the addition of the exclusive face and body care brand, Diptyque, to its selection of retail offerings. Diptyque also serves as the official line of in-amenities throughout the hotel. Windsor Court is proud to be one out of 12 hotel properties in the world to offer the line in its accommodations.
What’s the most requested room at Windsor Court?
Our corner Premium Suites, located on the river side of the building, are a fan-favorite.
What makes that room type so special?
The views of the river and the riverboats sailing downstream offer a serene environment and takes the guest away to another place for a moment. The suite itself is full of natural light as windows span on one entire side of both the living room and bedroom.
What is the usual rate for that room?
The rate fluctuates anywhere from $400 to $980, depending on the time of year.
What makes the property so unique and special to New Orleans?
Many of the rooms at Windsor Court offers views of the skyline and the Mississippi River, making the hotel so incredibly special and emblematic of the Windsor Court’s deep, unwavering roots in New Orleans. The hotel’s developer, James J. Coleman, Jr., was a local businessman and self-proclaimed Anglophile, so not surprisingly, the entire hotel is steeped in the English roots of the hotel’s history, from its amenities to its décor. There’s an incredibly organic, beautiful marriage between our Windsor ties and the magnetic, expressive energy of the dynamic city that brings it to life. Perched atop the Crescent City, you feel that natural connection between these two worlds – between past and present – and you can feel the entire city around you, beckoning you to explore or simply welcoming you home.
Any notable/celebrity guests or regulars that you can share with us?
Windsor Court has seen its fair share of celebrities throughout the years, from rock stars and Academy Award-winning actresses to British royalty and U.S. presidents. Princess Ann visited when the hotel first opened in 1984, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters joined us when his 2017 tour took him through New Orleans, so the roster of glamorous guests is extensive. Other famous entertainers throughout the years include Oprah, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, U2, Matthew McConaughey, Dave Chappelle, Kathy Bates, and Ryan Gosling. The hotel has also hosted a variety of politicians and professional athletes, from Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. to Peyton Manning and Charles Barkley. Most recently, Kate Hudson stopped by and even posted a selfie where a to go cup from Café Anglais, Windsor Court’s on-the-go eatery, was spotted.
What’s your personal favorite dining/drinking experience on property?
Enjoying an early evening cocktail in Polo Club while listening to the jazz pianist performing. Then a fabulous dinner in The Grill Room, seated on the terrace that overlooks our intimate courtyard. On Fridays and Saturdays, Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Robin Barnes performs at the Polo Club lounge in which dinner patrons of The Grill Room may also enjoy from the dining room. The ambiance of the spaces mixed with classic jazz is such a genuine New Orleans experience.
Tell us a few fun facts about Windsor Court.
Windsor Court boasts a museum-quality collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and furnishings valued at more than $8 million by more than 60 artists, including works by European masters Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Annually, more than 10,000 long-stem roses are used in the trademark display in Windsor Court’s lobby, which is updated with fresh flowers every Friday. That’s more than 300,000 roses since the hotel opened in 1984.
In a single year, Windsor Court serves at least 67,000 cups of tea during the Traditional English Afternoon Tea Service in Le Salon, which features the Wedgwood Wild Strawberry china pattern. Chef Concierge Noel Minturn once received a guest’s unusual request to help petition Prince Michael of Kent for a Louisiana window at Westminster Abbey. The Prince and Princess of Kent were staying at the Windsor Court at the time, and Noel had just started at the hotel. She vividly remembers typing out a letter to the prince as the guest dictated to her. Although it seemed far-fetched at the time, the prince did receive the letter, and in 1995, the official Louisiana window was installed at Westminster Abbey.
Crescent City luminaries call the hotel home through their inclusion in three featured murals located in the hotel’s restaurant, The Grill Room. Created by Auseklis Ozols, each painting captures a different New Orleans scene–an 1860s countryside plantation, Jackson Square, and the French Market––and hidden within these artworks, guests will find famous faces of individuals who played important roles in modern New Orleans history. Art Neville, Louis Armstrong, Edgar Degas, Marcel Duchamp, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Pope John Paul II, Harry Connick Jr., and a wide variety of other Louisiana legends can be seen on the restaurant’s walls.