To appreciate the Pontchartrain's recent reopening, it's worth remember just how terrible its final few months of operation were in 2009. The building's air conditioning system had completely given out. The staff, unpaid for months, was on the verge of striking. Check-in often took hours. One guest complained that the hotel restaurant offered only a single menu item: hot dogs. The Pontch's owner at the time has since been accused of fraud, and was recently declared a fugitive after surfacing in India.
Point being, we really wanted to spend an evening inside. Known today as the Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain, the hotel enjoyed $5M in renovations before reopening last summer. For the first time since 1965, the Pontch's black-tinted glass facade was altered. It's now doted with turquoise.
Our room, the Deluxe King Executive, was provided by Crowne Plaza free of charge. It typically asks between $150-$170/night, roughly $50 more than a standard guest room. Here's a photo journey of our evening at the Pontch.
Here's the issue with the Pontchartrain: It wasn't designed to be a chain hotel. The Pontch is a huge building with grand hallways, massive windows, and sleek lines. Crowne Plaza's renovation smothered the Pontch in cruise ship-style decor that's somewhat beneath it. It's not awful overall, but it's slightly off-putting.
Keep in mind: this hotel was reportedly unlivable before the renovation. It may not be elegant, but that's a small price to pay for what amounts to a pretty cool hotel. The rooms are some of the city's most unique. The views are unbeatable, and the price is among the cheapest downtown has to offer. Considering the Pontch's ridiculous past, what more could you ask for?