Former Oil & Gas Building reopens as Canopy by Hilton hotel

Canopy by Hilton, the newest hotel to join the downtown New Orleans market, has opened to guests.

The historic renovation of the former Oil & Gas Building at 1100 Tulane Ave. offers 176 guest rooms that range from 300 square feet to 450 square feet and average around $250 per night. There is also 1,700 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center and a terraced outdoor patio.

Other amenities include Cantonese/Creole restaurant Ginger Roux and craft cocktail bar The Herbalist. The development also has a “transfer lounge,” where guests can store their luggage in a dedicated locker if they’re arriving early or leaving late.

Canopy New Orleans Downtown director of sales & marketing Thai Ellison said the development team kept the building’s original flooring and marble. Guest rooms have polished concrete floors to give the spaces more of an industrial look, and a refurbished curtain wall on the exterior allows for maximum natural light, she said.

Canopy by Hilton is a boutique brand launched in 2014, aimed at younger travelers and designed to have an urban neighborhood vibe.

It focuses on sustainability, with reusable water bottles, recycling bins and glass cups and coffee mugs in guest rooms. There are “hydration stations” on every floor where guests can refill their water bottles.

The brand is pet friendly, and guests receive a bed, water bowl and treat bag for their dog upon check-in.

Chef Jonathan Hostetler helms Ginger Roux. He moved to New Orleans shortly after graduating from Virginia Tech University in 2011 and previously worked in the local dining industry with positions at Caesars Entertainment and Link Restaurant Group.

Menu items at Ginger Roux include lemongrass BBQ shrimp, gumbo dumplings and General Tso’s alligator. The restaurant’s signature dish is crawfish boil fried rice, with Louisiana crawfish tails, andouille, charred corn, mushrooms and potato chips.

Hostetler said he wanted to combine traditional Creole cooking techniques with Cantonese cuisine in a nod to the hotel’s location in the city’s Chinatown district that formed in the 1800s. Hostetler also oversees the menu at The Herbalist.

“These cuisines add a lot of layers of flavor,” he said. “They really work well together when you take ingredients from one and techniques from another and fuse them together.”

Renovations to the property began in February 2020, five years after Maryland-based hotel development firm Baywood Hotels purchased the vacant 14-story office building for $7 million. Baywood and Dallas-based NewcrestImage led the redevelopment initiative.

The cost of the renovation was not disclosed. A permit summary of the work lists the construction value at $31 million.

Ellison said the hotel was projected to open in November or December, but the entire construction crew caught COVID-19, and work was shut down for two weeks.

The pandemic has also caused issues with construction materials, labor shortages and supply chain issues. Some materials were delayed by six months, Ellison added.

The former office tower was built in 1959 and designed in the international style by August Perez & Associates and Edward B. Silverstein & Associates. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 for its use of glass, steel and abstract geometry.

The building got its name from the Monterey Oil Co., which leased an entire floor when the property opened. It was constructed as a speculative build at a time when oil and gas industry giants like Shell and Texaco were building new high-rise towers of their own in the Central Business District.

The structure has been mostly vacant since 2003. A night club known as Club Ampersand, which shuttered in 2014, had operated out of the 6,000-square-foot space on the first floor.

The hotel has new owners since opening. It was part of an $822 million transaction when Austin, Texas-based Summit Hotel Properties and GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, acquired it and 26 other hotel properties from NewcrestImage in January.

Also included in the transaction is a dual-branded Marriott hotel located at 1600 Canal St. in a building that previously housed offices for the University of New Orleans.

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