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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Louisiana’s Overnight Delights

From haunted historic estates and bayou-laced nature retreats to Gilded Age showpieces, Louisiana bursts with hotels and resorts perfect for luring attendees to your next conference, convention or annual meeting.

Louisiana’s signature hotels offer ideal ways for meeting attendees to take advantage of the outdoors and warm winter weather. In any season, these Louisiana properties delight guests with outstanding cuisine, with fresh-from-the-Gulf oysters and exotic items like alligator, making meals entertainment in their own right. And, as always, the warmth of Louisiana’s Southern hospitality will ensure a memorable event.

Houmas House Estate and Gardens


There’s a reason Houmas House, a magnificently columned antebellum mansion, looks familiar. The grand home — often called “the Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road” — has appeared in dozens of films and countless commercials and photo shoots. On the east bank of the Mississippi River, the plantation is a 45-minute drive from the New Orleans airport and 25 miles from Baton Rouge.

“We have conference and meeting rooms and breakout spaces in a luxurious, relaxing setting,” said Kevin Kelly, a New Orleans businessman who bought the landmark in 2003.

An arched carriageway connects a four-room structure dating from the 1760s to the Greek Revival mansion, which was completed in 1828. The “big house” is still a private residence, but tours are available.

Outdoors, its event spaces include a 30,000-square-foot walled garden with a lily pond and illuminated dancing fountain and a live oak-lined stretch of lawn where a long table can accommodate 250 diners.

Its indoor meeting venues are numerous and roomy. The Great River Road Museum can seat 500 for dinner or 900 for a concert or meeting; the Pavilion Ballroom can seat 425 for dinner or 550 for a meeting; the Neptune Ballroom can seat 200 for dinner or 250 for a meeting; the Carriage House Ballroom can seat 100 for dinner. Half a dozen other smaller spaces can accommodate from 18 to 85 people.

Hotel Bentley


Pennsylvania lumber magnate Joseph Bentley opened the hotel bearing his name in Alexandria in 1908, and since then the Gilded Age building commanding a block of downtown and overlooking the Red River has welcomed movie stars such as Cary Grant, John Wayne and Roy Rogers. Generals Omar Bradley and George Patton and future president Dwight Eisenhower discussed strategy there when the city was a center for five military bases during World War II. The French Renaissance hotel closed in 2004, but today its grandly domed lobby once again buzzes with both guests and locals.

“We have 93 guest rooms,” said general manager Martha Turner, “so we’re more like a boutique hotel. Alexandria is a charming small town, and our location is right next to the museum of art and just steps from the Randolph Riverfront Center.”

The historic hotel’s event spaces include a ballroom that can accommodate 300 to 500 guests, and more intimate spaces like a boardroom for 15. On the mezzanine, the 2,500-square-foot Claiborne Room has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Jackson Street Bridge. The Claiborne Room can be combined with the Livingston and Beauregard rooms for a total of 4,000 square feet of space, accommodating up to 400 guests. The Hotel Bentley offers catering services — catfish Jenkins is a favorite — as well as audiovisual services and complimentary table linens. After meetings, guests can enjoy craft cocktails, tapas and fresh oysters in the Mirror Room.

The Southern Hotel


Located in Covington on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the Southern is a historic boutique hotel that honors the town’s legacy as an artists’ community by showcasing the work of local artists. The hotel dates back to 1907, and the downtown location — the lobby is often called “Covington’s living room” — is surrounded by galleries, restaurants and the 1876 H.J. Smith and Sons General Store and Museum. Nostalgic murals by U.K. artist Grahame Ménage grace the hotel’s elegant Cypress Bar and pool area.

The luxurious hotel has 40 guest rooms and seven suites, including the Garden House, which has six bedrooms (five of which are suites) and an executive lounge. The Southern’s five flexible meeting spaces can accommodate between 12 to 120 guests. A 300-year-old live oak tree graces the landscaped grounds of its recently opened off-site event venue, the Greenwood, which has two ballrooms. Full catering and audiovisual services are available.

The Camellia Ballroom, the hotel’s largest meeting space, can seat from 85 to 144 depending on room setup; the adjacent Camellia Sunroom works well for receptions of 50 or as an exhibit or registration space. Two other small meeting rooms handle up to 12 and 32.

For an exhilarating adventure, attendees can bicycle along the 31-mile Tammany Trace or paddle Cane Bayou to see egrets, otters and alligators.

Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center

Baton Rouge

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capital Center, a refined Art Deco hotel, first opened in 1927 as the Heidelberg Hotel. During a political dispute in 1931, it briefly served as the state capitol. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a secret tunnel where legendary governor Huey P. Long used to visit his mistress is now a speakeasy with a secret entrance and password requirement that can be booked for exclusive events.

The 291-room hotel is next to the Shaw Center for the Arts and the 200,000-square-foot River Center Convention Center in the heart of downtown. Guests can stroll to the levee along the river, several museums, the old and new state capitols and the Governor’s Mansion. Its 17 event spaces can handle everything from board meetings of 12 to receptions for 1,000 on the panoramic pool deck. The ballroom, with high ceilings, arched windows, grand chandeliers and sweeping views of the Mississippi River, can handle seated events for 600 or standing receptions for 800. Full technology and audiovisual services are available.

Covey Rise Lodge


If your attendees are nature lovers who enjoy the outdoors, shooting and fishing, the Venue at Covey Rise Lodge is the perfect destination for your meeting.

“It’s a sportsman’s paradise,” said Emily Matise, director of sales for Tangi Tourism.

The 600-acre family-owned lodge has attracted visitors with its outdoor activities, cabins and Cajun cuisine for decades, but a recently constructed 8,000-square-foot dining and meeting space has broadened its appeal. The main rental lodge and three- and four-bedroom cabins can accommodate up to 45 guests, with farm-to-table meals provided. Additional lodging is available in the surrounding area.

The menu for seated dinners for up to 100 might include grilled quail, mini muffalettas or boudin balls. Gatherings can also be held at the patio bar, where outdoor heaters can warm guests.

For an unforgettable side trip, groups can visit the Global Wildlife Center, where 1,000 animals roam in a 900-acre fenced nature preserve. Visitors can hand-feed giraffes, zebras and camels.