New Orleans hotels house a new kind of guest

Amazing to read about what New Orleans hotels are going through right now to accommodate FEMA personnel and others—it looks like your regular tourist and conventioneer market is gone for the near future, at any rate.

    The 1,110-room Sheraton trucks in 200,000 gallons of clean water a day in an almost continuous shuttle service to protect its plumbing system from contamination by city water. Dirty linens are shipped out of town to save water.

    As a result of these kinds of heroic efforts, "We believe the hotels are going to lead the recovery effort," says Stephen Perry, CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. The effort paves the way for "a whole new set of business travelers" — the insurance adjusters and contractors needed to rebuild the city.

    For now, though, New Orleans is officially closed to most of them. Hotels canceled reservations made before the hurricane struck and many have since signed contracts giving all or large blocks of rooms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    "A lot of companies are calling for availability, but we're committed to FEMA," says Don Zimmer of the 707-room Astor hotel, part of the Crowne Plaza chain, which expects to reopen this week.

I'm sorry, but I just don't think NOLA's going to be convention-ready any time soon.

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