Named after Count de Pontchartrain of the court of Louis XIV, the Pontchartrain Hotel commenced operations in March, 1927. The grade elevation of the hotel was four feet above mean sea level as of the year 1990 according to a survey by Earth Metrics, while the elevation of the Mississippi River stood at 14 feet (4.3 m) above mean sea level. (Hogan, 1990) An earlier hotel was in operation as early as 1825 as reported by Bernard; this predecessor structure was described as "behind the old fort". (Bernhard, 1828) Noted guests of the Hotel Ponchartrain include Tennessee Williams, (Staggs, 2005) Jose Ferrer, Rita Hayworth (Frommer, 2007), The Doors (Densmore, 1990), and George H. W. Bush. Williams worked on his classic play Streetcar Named Desire while staying at the Pontchartrain Hotel. (Staggs, 2005)
The hotel has also had restaurants, producing such notable original dishes as "mile high pie". Pianists with longtime gigs at the hotel have included Tuts Washington and Philip Melancon. Despite some damage from Hurricane Katrina, the hotel reopened afterwards. There was more damage from looting and vandalism than from weather-related factors. (Frommer, 2007)
The 80-year-old hotel building closed for extensive renovations in July 2007. In July 2008, it was reported that the building would be converted into a residence for retirees. But, in August l2013, the Pontchartrain reopened as a hotel and its historic Bayou Bar reopened in February 2014.
The Pontchartrain Hotel was acquired by AJ Capital Partners in November 2014, with Cooper Manning as a part-owner, and underwent another more ambitious renovation aimed at restoring it to its former level of elegance and re-emphasizing its historic character, while updating its style in its 106 guestrooms and suites, to appeal to a younger generation of travelers. The hotel reopened on June 17, 2016 and its famous Caribbean Room, Bayou Bar, and Silver Whistle coffee shop have been reopened, but with a contemporary flair that still evokes the nostalgia of the original restaurants. Celebrity chef John Besh and his staff have been chosen to run the Caribbean Room and all of the hotel's dining operations. Additionally, a new rooftop bar has been created on the 14th story of the hotel overlooking the downtown skyline Mississippi River. AJ Capital Partners is a Chicago-based team of hospitality and real estate investors who develop, own and operate commercial and hospitality assets and businesses in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The company was established in 2008.
Awards and accolades
- Louisiana Landmarks Society 2017 Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation
- Named one of Travel and Leisure's 2017 The Best New Hotels in the World 
- New Orleans Eater Eater Awards 2016 - Design of the Year, Caribbean Room 
- LaRos, Greg (July 8, 2008). "Pontchartrain Hotel being converted into senior apartments". New Orleans City Business. Retrieved 2008-07-17.[dead link]
- Mora, Kate (July 16, 2008). "The Pontchartrain Hotel to return to its roots". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
- Maloney, Ann (June 14, 2016). "Caribbean Room, Bayou Bar reopens at Pontchartrain Hotel on June 17". The Times-Picayune /NOLA.com. © NOLA Media Group. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
- name=LALandmarks>"2017 Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation". Louisiana Landmarks Society. April 2017.
- "2017 The Best New Hotels in the World". Travel and Leisure. March 2017.
- "Eater Awards 2016". Gwendolyn Knapp. November 16, 2016.
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- Hogan, C. Michael and Marc Papineau, Earth Metrics Incorporated, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment for the Pontchartrain Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, Report Number 10456, March 19, 1990
- Bernhard, Travels Through North America, During the Years 1825 and 1826, p 53, G. & C. Carvill, New York (1828)
- Staggs, Sam, When Blanche Met Brando: The Scandalous Story of "A Streetcar Named Desire", p 13, St Martins Press, New York, (2005)
- Densmore, John, Riders on the Storm, Delacorte Press, New York (1990)
- Frommer, New Orleans Travel Guide (2007)