When people talk about New Orleans, the first thing that comes to mind is Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. But it is also home to jazz music and the best of meeting and event venues. Here, Kermit Ruffins shares his journey from being an aspiring member of brass bands from New Orleans to becoming a songwriter for Disney’s Jungle Book and a jazz trumpeter jamming with Jon Batiste. On the other hand, discussing the elegant facilities and unparalleled service of The Windsor Court Hotel is its General Manager, Ralph Mahana. For your next business meeting plan, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth explore the cuisine and culture deep in the heart of New Orleans.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in New Orleans to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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Jazz Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins gives a musician’s guide to the Big Easy, plus hear from the Windsor Court’s General Manager Ralph Mahana
New Orleans is a timeless place. It offers a different feeling and experience with every visit, and the next one is always better than the last. It doesn’t end with Mardi Gras or Bourbon Street. In this episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth explore the rich beauty, culture, and cuisine of New Orleans, with two special guests joining them to delve into its music and hospitality.
Jazz Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins
New Orleans is the land of jazz music. It is home to a local jazz festival, which mainly contributes to the area’s signature laid-back vibe. This is why many children are drawn to a career in jazz music as they grow up. Kermit Ruffins is one of those kids, with his relatives and friends all into trumpets and brass bands. Who would have thought that years later, his career would bring him to the mainstream stage?
Kermit’s passion as a jazz trumpeter led him to Jon Batiste and Stay Human, performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He also played himself in the HBO series Treme. Outside his busy days, he cooks in his bar, Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge.
Rapid-Fire Questions with Kermit
- Have you ever completed anything on your own bucket list?Putting out CDs.
- If there’s any place in the world you could live in for a year, where would it be?Probably the Africans because I haven’t seen it.
- When you’re packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise other people?A Crockpot. Before the gig, I’ll put some rabbit or chicken in it. When we come back, it’ll be just smelling up in the whole hotel.
Find Kermit Ruffins on https://www.basinstreetrecords.com/artists/kermit-ruffins/ and https://www.kermitslounge.com/.
Andy and Todd’s Top 10 New Orleans Bucket List
- Mardi Gras World
- Voodoo Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
- Best Seafood Places: Frankie and Johnny’s, Big Fisherman, and Cooter Brown’s
- American Horror Story Trip: Buckner Mansion, Tau Omega Alpha fraternity house, and LaLaurie Mansion
- Private tour of the Garden District
- Culinary workshop at The Bakehouse
- S. Rau Antique Shop
- Drag queens at the Country Club
- The Sazerac House
- Top Three Restaurants: Nina Compton’s Bywater American Bistro, Willa Jean Restaurant and Bakery, and Commander’s Palace
General Manager of The Windsor Court, Ralph Mahana
Serving at the hotel for more than 13 years, Ralph Mahana rose as the General Manager of The Windsor Court after sitting in almost every hospitality position imaginable, from the director of banquets, officer manager, to assistant general manager. He is the main guy of this elegant place that features a British style and a $15 million art collection, all curated by the original developer and certified Anglophile James J. Coleman.
Main Facilities Of The Windsor Court
- Iconic lounge with live night music
- Second-floor restaurant fit for royalty
- Eight-room spa treatment
- Rooftop pool with a poolside bar
As one of the oldest properties in New Orleans, it is home to the most interesting stories. For Ralph, the most memorable one would probably when Paul McCartney himself serenaded the guests by playing the piano in the lounge. To further ensure that everyone who visits the hotel gets an experience that cannot be found anywhere else, The Windsor Court provides enthralling private offers to their executive-level club, which are best for those returning to New Orleans.
The hotel is also no short on crazy requests from guests. Ralph shares one time when someone wanted to land a helicopter on top of their building, and even arranging a parade where local chefs showcased their food while riding giant floats.
Learn more about The Windsor Court at http://www.windsorcourthotel.com.
About Kermit Ruffins
From playing himself in the HBO Series Treme, to barbecuing outside his bar, Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge, to sitting in with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the trumpeter/vocalist keeps himself busy when he isn’t on stage doing what he does best—entertaining and sharing his love of life with the world.
Ruffins continues making his imprint on the world with wider exposure including appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef and on the soundtrack to Disney’s Jungle Book with Bill Murray and Christopher Walken. He personifies the laid-back vibe of New Orleans.
About Ralph Mahana
Ralph Mahana, a New Orleans native and alumnus of Isidore Newman School and Tulane University, was named general manager of Windsor Court Hotel in April 2018. No stranger to hospitality, Ralph previously spent 13 years entrenched in the day-to-day operations of the hotel. While a sophomore in college, Ralph joined the Windsor Court team as a night auditor/bellman. As a business major, he quickly fell in love with the industry and transitioned through a variety of positions and departmental leadership roles over the years, including director of rooms, operations, front desk, guest services, food and beverage, and assistant general manager. Ralph is passionate about an array of causes, from education and affordable housing, to human trafficking and gender equality.
Through his leadership, the hotel has undergone a staff training on human trafficking awareness and prevention; donated used furniture from recent renovations to Nicholls State University’s new ballroom project; and committed time and resources to guarantee the hotel is welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Ralph’s leadership and commitment to his community have recently earned him positions as a Board Member for GNO, Inc.’s NextGen Council and Chair of Community Engagement for the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.
With a keen eye on being unbiased, he’s also doing his part, alongside GNO, Inc.’s Race and Equity Foundation, to make New Orleans the most equitable city in the nation. Ralph is honored to be recognized as one of the Sharpest in New Orleans, and he looks forward to collaborating with SHARP Men to affect change in the local community and beyond.