Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dear guests...

Corner of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street, New Orleans
Yesterday morning I was on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street and I was struck by the dawning sunlight on the banana trees that grow in front of Canseco's Supermarket.  The site that Canseco's uses used to be a Whole Foods Market.  Whole Foods is going to open a few blocks away from us on North Broad Street in a couple of months, in an old Schwegmann's building.

It is wonderful to live in New Orleans.  I think this every day.  I often say it out loud, often for no reason except that I am struck by how lucky we are to live here.  Yesterday's reason was the light on the banana trees.

I have written an open letter to our guests that I am going to date tomorrow and leave on the table by the front door.  I hate marketing.  I hate advertising.  Neither of us is a salesman.  We like to think that we offer a good product and most people seem to agree.  I am going to copy the letter here without comment (and without being on our stylish letterhead paper):


"Dear Guest,

It is true we have your email address.  We won’t abuse it.  You will probably never hear from us.  Who likes an inbox full of form letters and ersatz sincerity?  In today’s travel and tourism market, we live or die by online reviews, primarily on TripAdvisor.  It is the nature of the beast, a Devil’s bargain, for better or for worse.

If you enjoyed your stay, we will appreciate an online review, but only if it is not too much trouble.  We won’t cajole you into writing one if you aren’t comfortable doing so.  If you did not enjoy your stay, we would like to know how we could have made it better.  You can tell the whole world if you want to or you can write us privately.  We really do want to know what is right and what can be better.  No hard feelings.  You have two friends in New Orleans.  Even if you don’t stay with us the next time you come to the city, ring the bell if you’re on Esplanade Avenue and our motor scooters are parked out front.  We’ll be happy to see you and tell you what is going on this week.

We want to be the inn of choice for people visiting New Orleans.  We like to think we offer a unique boutique experience that lets people experience the city the way we do, as citizens.  Ours is a remarkable city.  We live here.  We try to share that.  If we can be better ambassadors, we want to know how.

We hope you come back, not to fleece you through repeat business, but because we really enjoy what we do.  Good guests make good company.  Thank you for staying with us.  

We really do love where we live.  This is probably obvious.  If the levees don’t break, we’ll still be in business many, many more years, enjoying what we do.  If the levees do break again, we'll be here rebuilding.  We love it here.  Ours is a pleasant profession, mostly because good guests make good company.  Thank you for choosing La Belle Esplanade.  We hope you visit New Orleans again.  Good memories are made here.

A votre santé,
Matthew and Melanie"
Corner of Canal and North Rampart Streets, New Orleans
We went to the newly restored Saenger Theater on Canal Street this afternoon.  It is beautiful inside.  I took about a hundred blurry pictures to prove it.  Here is a picture of the starlit ceiling:
Saenger Theater ceiling
More to come.

Until then,
A votre santé,

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