Tyler Kaufman-USA TODAY Sports
Can you get a room for Super Bowl or Mardi Gras in New Orleans?
The hotel search site trivago.com, says New Orleans is gearing up for record crowds with the Super Bowl/Mardi Gras influx happening in early February. While Mardi Gras activity has started, peak visitation time is Feb. 6-12, according to the Mardi Gras site. "Fat Tuesday," signaling the end of revelry, is Feb. 12.
As of Friday, city rooms for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl were sold out, says trivago, which surveys 155 hotel booking sites.
Friday a.m., the Super Bowl fan lodging site, which also helps in the room search, showed just 10 hotels available for Super Bowl weekend. But they were all in the Baton Rouge area, more than an hour's drive from New Orleans.
Friday a.m., trivago offered some options for Mardi Gras. Feb. 8-10, including Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, $135 per person per night via hotels.com; www.trivago.com/new-orleans-34570/hotel/renaissance-pere-marquette-69111/deals.
For Monday Feb. 11-Wednesday Feb. 13, trivago turned up lots more availability, including the Hilton Garden Inn, Monteleone and Country Inn & Suites by Carlson.
All this is good new for The Big Easy, which has had an uneasy time in the years following Hurricane Katrina's devastation in 2005.
Just when New Orleans was getting back on its feet after major repairs, the economic crisis of 2008 hit. And one of its flagship hotels, The huge Hyatt Regency by the Superdome, didn't get resurrected until fall of 2011.
While the future of the nation's economy is still uncertain, the city is doing better than many of its peers, say experts including Jan Freitag, senior vice president of global development for the Smith Travel Research hotel tracking firm.
"2012 was a really good year. ... New Orleans is performing great," Freitag says.
While Smith research showed that Houston reported the largest occupancy increase (9.4%, to 65.4%) among major markets in 2012, followed by Nashville (up 5.8%, to 65.6%), New Orleans was an impressive third (up 5.5%, to 67.6%). Room rates rose 8.6% (to an average of $132.80), and revenue per available room climbed 14.6% to $89.81.
Freitag says the city's hotel-room supply -- which is more than 37,000 -- also grew an amazing 3.8% last year. Compared with the dismal national average of 0.5%, it's huge, he says. "It's a really attractive market."
The good times for hotel supply keep rolling. The latest entry into the market: A Hotel Indigo on the site of the old Garden District Hotel celebrated its grand opening Thursday, according to New Orleans' The Times-Picayune newspaper.