Saturday, September 13, 2008

It Ain't Dere No More

There are a zillion great local bands on New Orleans, and Benny Grunch and The Bunch are certainly up there in the top ten. They write very specific lyrics about New Orleans that are very funny. They have two songs in the same vein using the refrain: "It Ain't Dere No More". They actually were written pre-Katrina, having to do with all the great places vanishing in New Orleans for one reason or another. The song was played alot after Katrina, the lyrics taking on a deeper meaning.
Yes we can laugh at the absurdity of it all, and New Orleanians have an excellent sense of humor that serves them well when dealing with life in the Big (it ain't so) Easy.
Places and people come and go. Sometimes in the name of change, or because of the natural progression of things, like the changing tastes of people, the economy, and natural disasters, like um, hurricanes (very much on my mind this morning while worrying about the good folks being battered by Ike).
I'm working on a piece where the editor has asked that I downplay Katrina. Apparently we have moved on. It ain't dere no more.
BK, before Katrina, Planet Tango, the company Alberto and I own and run, produced nine stellar tango festivals. Our last two were at the Hotel Monaco in New Orleans, and the last one taking place just two weeks before you know who blew into town.
It was a perfect fit for us: A small boutique hotel with sexy sensual surroundings, very much like the vibe of the tango. For me, the designer gal, every attention to detail from the logo to the furnishings made me proud to offer this place to my guests, the festival participants.
I would never, never ask anyone to stay in place I myself would not enjoy,

The front desk was made to look like a vintage steamer trunk, a nice tie in with the image of the vintage luggage tag they use for their logo.
The lobby was just spectacular, a stylish living room where they served complimentary wine and nibbles every afternoon at 5 PM.
There were panels of sheer curtains hung on ceiling tracks to the floor, that could be opened to make one grand salon, or closed to make intimate chat rooms.
The fireplace and the two arches next to it were shell encrusted. It was just gorgeous. Since Katrina, The Hilton has taken over the hotel, after it had been closed for nearly two years due to storm damage. The shells? They ain't dere no more.
Another thing I loved about the Hotel Monaco is that it was pet friendly. If you didn't bring your pet, they provided a gold fish for your room to keep you company. I loved that little detail! And so did our guests.The Monaco's design signature is pattern mixing. Every room is unique, and furnished like a fine home. It's funny, because just a few years ago luxury and boutique hotels tried to make their spaces look like our nice homes. Now we all try to decorate our homes, especially the bedroom, to look like a hotel!
How could a visual vamp not love the mix of colors, the exciting accessories, the comfort and prettiness of it all.

Flat screen TVs, CD players, inter net - all the tech stuff you could want was in every room.
How sensual is this? Tons of toss pillows, fresh flowers, romantic lighting.... I just love the play of pattern and light...ceilings can be low in hotel rooms, so doing a stripe like this really makes it feel expansive.
What a great chaise to plop down on after a great shopping trip! And note the Herman Miller style spool table.
The mix of patterns is very English, don't you think?
And of course the bathrooms were luxury, luxury, luxury. The had jacuzzi jetted tubs, and featured Aveda bath products, and the robes were plush leopard terry cloth!

Standard rooms had separate areas for sitting, usually a couch with a second flat screen, and a desk. The art work was not standard issue either. No two pieces were the same in any room.

Other sexy touches were faux fur throws.
The restaurant was very nice. In New Orleans Hotel Monaco acclaimed chef Susan Spicer was at the helm. She helped launch the current trend of quality food served in hotels - no rubber chicken salad sandwiches here!
The New Orleans Monaco occupied an elegant old building that was once a very grand Masonic Temple and lodge. The light fixtures in the spaces they turned into ballrooms kept the old Egyptian Revival sconces and features. It was a grand room for tango dancing!
We miss the Monaco. We haven't had the desire to another tango festival. It ain't dere no more.

Planet Tango has produced a lovely DVD of the last New Orleans TangoFest which took place at The Hotel Monaco. It has a great tango show on it, as well as some other wonderful things. Please order it HERE


Cote de Texas said...

that hotel was so fine - it reminds me of the Hotel ZaZa here - I wonder if is owned by the same people - do you know?

Sabina said...

Thanks for the memories, you know I loved that hotel. It had a great staff too.

Visual Vamp said...

Hey Sabina! We did tear it up there, didn't we!!!
And Joni, The Kempton Group owns the Hotel Monaco chain. They have one in San Francisco and Chicago, and other cities.
They're all pretty fine, and we really miss the 5 PM glass of wine in that fabulous lobby.