NEW ORLEANS – The summer of ‘72 returned to downtown New Orleans yesterday as the New Orleans Marriott celebrated its 50th anniversary, complete with music of the era, throwback cocktails, vintage photographs and with a giant “50” lighting up the skyline from the windows of the hotel’s 42-story tower.
The iconic New Orleans Marriot opened a half-century ago as the tallest building on the city skyline, the largest hotel in the city and the tallest hotel in the South. At the time, it was also the largest hotel in Marriott’s then 24-hotel portfolio. Now with more than 5,000 properties, Marriott International is the world’s largest hotel chain.
“The New Orleans Marriott has been a prominent Canal Street landmark for five decades,” said General Manager Frank Zumbo in welcoming guests. “The opening was heralded as an economic thrust for the city and poised to position New Orleans as a major tourism destination for both leisure and group business.”
Proclamations from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and City Council District B Member Lesli Harris acknowledged the hotel’s importance to the city’s $9 billion tourism industry that now draws more than 18.5 million visitors to the city annually.
On behalf of Council Member Harris, Erica Wise also declared July 20, 2022, to honor 50 years of service to the New Orleans Marriott from each of six charter associates.
William Currie, Gloria Mejia, Carol Mitchell, Hattie Russ, Linda Toney and Sarah Zeno have worked at the hotel since opening day.
“Over these past five decades, the Marriott has provided thousands of citizens with opportunities to build a career in the tourism industry, combining the unique hospitality of New Orleans with world-class Marriott service,” remarked Mark Romig, chief marketing officer for New Orleans & Company.
In celebrating the historic milestone, Zumbo also reiterated Marriott International’s commitment to the communities where hotels are located. Nearly 40 years ago, Marriott became the first corporate partner of the Children’s Miracle Network. Locally, Marriott properties have raised $1.6 million over the past 15 years for Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Zumbo announced continued support of the pediatric hospital with an annual silent auction on October 14 and golf tournament on November 7.
Additionally, hotel management announced a partnership with Son of a Saint, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping fatherless boys.
“We believe in investing in the vitality of our local children to support the resiliency and future of our city,” added Zumbo as he presented an $18,000 check to Founder and CEO Sonny Lee to fund school supplies and uniforms for 50 boys as they return to school this August.
“We are grateful to the Marriott team for this level of support and for helping to amplify our mission during such a momentous occasion in this landmark hotel’s history,” said Lee, as mentees Jayce Irving, 11, and Dylan Irving, 10, looked on. “Our tagline states, ‘If you love New Orleans, invest in its future.’ Marriott’s contribution to this organization and to the city is putting these words into action with intention and impact.”