19 Dec 2020
Happy holiday season to all! I hope everyone is staying safe and well as we battle this virus. Fortunately, the vaccines will be available early next year and will afford us relief so we can work back to a sense of normalcy as 2021 progresses.
It is with pleasure that I announce that we have completed our contract negotiations with the Aston Crowne Plaza New Orleans, host of our 2021 November reunion to be held during the week of the Marine Corps Birthday which, of course, we will celebrate. Some of you may know that last year we hired a professional meeting planner to arrange next year’s gathering. Don Duszynski has been quite effective in putting it all together, especially with the hotel negotiations and contract. Best of all, his work costs the Squadron nothing, as he is paid by the hotel.
Details are to be worked out, but here is a broad-strokes outline of the week:
Dates: November 8-12, 2021. Early arrivals on the 7th, if you care to. Also, Don negotiated a “3 + 3” term on the room rates, meaning you can come as early as the 4th and stay until the 15th at the group rate, subject to room availability. Register early if you’re anticipating taking advantage of this amenity.
Location: Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans, 739 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130. Right at the corner of Bourbon and Canal streets at the beginning of the French Quarter. The weather should be accommodating this time of year; Don and I did site visits last month on the 16th and 17th, and daytime temperatures were in the 70s with cool mornings and evenings.
Rates: Single king or double queen bedrooms, including ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) outfitted if required, $109 per night plus 16.2% tax plus $2 occupancy tax, ending up at about $129. This fantastic rate is thanks again to Don, who convinced Astor management that, as veterans and thus former employees of the United States Government, we should be entitled to the prevailing government rate. Typically, the base rate would be $40 to $75 more, depending on the hotel. New Orleans at your local Holiday Inn prices!
Additional amenities: 4th floor hospitality room (our Hooch), hi-speed internet, banquet room for the Birthday Banquet, meeting room for the Board of Directors/general squadron meeting and memorial service, all complimentary; discounted valet parking at $35+tax per night, 9% event fee waived, attrition and cancellation policies, guest room attrition, and group cancellation fees, all waived.
Highlights: Well, it’s New Orleans, folks! Fabulous dining and live music steps from our door. The week’s schedule is being designed to provide as much free time as possible to take advantage of the city’s hospitality. Fixed group events will include an opening reception Monday evening, general meeting and memorial service Tuesday morning, Marine Corps Birthday Banquet Wednesday evening, and a Mississippi River cruise Thursday afternoon. An optional visit to the famed New Orleans WWII museum is being considered for Tuesday and/or Wednesday afternoon. Of course, the hootch will be open every day for socializing until midnight, daily opening times dependent upon event scheduling. We will be working with the city’s CVB (Convention & Visitors’ Bureau) to provide recommendations for restaurants, interesting sights, and fun activities to enjoy during our stay.
We’ll keep you apprised as the schedule firms up, and will have those details and a registration package together as early in 2021 as possible.
So, save the dates! We’re anticipating a good turnout, and, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, the pandemic will have been bested by next November. That being so, we can also anticipate an enormous pent-up demand for travel late next year or before. Register early, get your transportation booked early, et laissez les bon temps rouler!
Bob Basye, President