THE LOCAL: Ralph Mahana
Meet Ralph Mahana, the General Manager of WINDSOR COURT HOTEL. A native New Orleanian, Ralph was inspired to go into a career that would build up his hometown after Katrina. Recognizing the hotel’s iconic status, he took a job at its front desk. Since then, he’s worked his way through almost every department at the hotel. Today, Ralph has just finished supervising the hotel’s $15 million property renovation, preparing Windsor Court Hotel for a future that never looked so bright. Welcome to Ralph’s take.
MY NEW ORLEANS MEMORIES
I grew up coming to Windsor Court Hotel. I remember tea in LE SALON with my mother, and my family’s standing Friday night reservation at THE GRILL ROOM, where you could often find me playing underneath the table. But most of all, my New Orleans childhood is centered around the hotel’s CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS.
When we say that the Windsor Court experience is New Orleans, it’s because we really believe that. We are locally owned, so we look at all of our decisions as a hotel from the standpoint of whether they will have a positive impact on our community. Local customers are our bread and butter at THE SPA AT WINDSOR COURT. You will notice in our recent renovations that we actually added only one treatment room in the spa (and an infrared sauna). We considered the entire guest experience, preserving the quaint feel in the spa and adding to that feeling of quiet, calm sanctuary our loyal customers love.
Do you know what brings people back to the hotel? Our staff. People want to see Ross when they arrive at the hotel, or make an appointment to see Amy in the spa. My first week as General Manager, I spent an exorbitant amount of money on stationery. I gave it to every member of the staff and said, “Imagine you make a connection with a guest. Whether you leave it at the desk at checkout or hand it to them in the Club Lounge, give each guest a handwritten note to show you appreciate them.”
In 2018, Windsor Court Hotel unveiled a $15 million property renovation. In addition to modernizations for all 316 guest rooms and suites and the grand opening of WATERMAN POOLSIDE BAR, we refreshed public spaces, including hallways, elevator landings, the CLUB LEVEL LOUNGE, and LA CHINOISERIE, the 4,500-square-foot ballroom on the hotel’s top floor. This project was rooted in our desire to stay true to our old-world British elegance and classic luxury décor without having any feeling of being dated or antiquated. By updating and upgrading our furnishings, color palette and bathrooms, our guest rooms and corridors are brighter, more vibrant and refreshing – yet they maintain the charm, style and elegance for which our hotel is known.
The traditions at WINDSOR COURT are also the traditions of my childhood, so this part is very important to me. For example, we are excited to bring back our Windsor Court Christmas ornament. This year, the hotel’s decorations pay homage to the past, with roses being a Windsor Court staple. But we’ve partnered with DUNN AND SONNIER, ANTIQUES, FLOWERS AND GIFTS, who have outdone themselves and really designed something special. Of course, our HOLIDAY TEA is ever popular, and for good reason. We’ve really boosted the dessert offerings, and sold out weekends already!
We are really excited about our new partnership with Diptyque. We are now one of 12 hotels around the world to have this luxury product as our in-room amenity. This product line has a cult following, so we’re well aware that we’ll be restocking toiletries regularly. If you’re up for a real treat, consider the DIPTYQUE MASSAGE at The Spa at Windsor Court…visit Monday – Thursday for the local special of 20% off services.
Here’s what I’m seeing for next year: Lobby bar cart! What can you do in New Orleans that you can’t do in any other city? You can take drinks outside. Every luxury hotel I have gone to the new trend is a lobby bar cart. I would also like to incorporate live music and liven up the arrival experience. Stay tuned.
HOW I NOLA
When I’m not at the hotel, I’m attending a lot of community events. My wife works for Entergy so between the two of us, we always have events to attend. If a new restaurant opens, we’ll likely be there in the first week and back again within six months. Our favorites include staples like CLANCY’S, ARNAUD’S, and VINCENT’S mixed with new ones like JUSTINE, PALADAR 511 and SOFIA. But, truth be told: The Superdome is the one place I go to be me. Saints games are my sanctuary.