Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 41 - New Orleans vs Nawlins': The Professional & Unprofessional

Houmas House
Fultron Street during Christmas Time

Bourbon Street

There is a lot of time that goes into planning a good vacation. So the trip to New Orleans for Christmas was no exception.  What gets tricky is what is open for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  Luckily we picked the right spot to be for Christmas.  After we were already there, the television news broadcast stated the city of New Orleans is the 2nd best place to be on Christmas.  I'm not sure but I think San Antonio was listed as number one.

The great thing about having a small budget is we can stay at Hostels all over the world including the United States. I have not been to one yet but it is on my list of things to do.  Most are super but there are a few that may not be suitable for children. $10 per person is the average price per night.  Not only is it a bargain, most people only need a place to lay their head anyway.  Not a place to leave valuables but a great place to meet others from all over the world and possibly make new friends for life.

Here is a link to the top ten Hostels in America:

So when I was planning the trip to New Orleans we planned a tour of two plantations.  One was the Houmas House which I personally think is the best and highly recommend it to anyone who is planning on traveling to the area.  The mansion has been bought by Dr. Kelly and he still lives in the house.  As a result the house is in tip top shape.  Living in a house always keeps it in better shape.  There are no ropes keeping you away from the rooms, you are encouraged to sit on the furniture.  An interactive plantation tour if you will.  Our tour guide, Judy Whitney Davis must have been a former drama major as we were delighted with a performance as she sat down to play the old piano while singing a Christmas Carol.  Wonderful!

St. Louis Cathedral on the square
The other plantation was the Nottaway Plantation.  Their website enticed us to drive an additional hour out of the way to have Christmas Eve dinner there.  We wanted to maximize our time so we called before we left Florida to double and triple check that we would in fact be able to tour the house prior to the dinner due to the date being Christmas Eve.  Tours ended at 5:00 PM and we were concerned that the employees/volunteers would want to leave early to be with their families.  Understandable but we were assured that they were not going to be leaving early.  We called again before we left New Orleans and were assured once again, no problem.

Nottaway Plantation
Long story short, we arrived, the people had left and we didn't get to tour the Nottaway Plantation. The price of the tour was included in our price of the Christmas Eve Dinner.  Management had left so there wasn't anybody to talk to that evening. Basically we paid for something we didn't receive. We tried to suck it up as it would be another seventy minutes back into the city and everything would be closed by then.

I separate all situations into two categories: Professional and Unprofessional.  The ones that turn into problems are always due to unprofessionalism.  If an experience starts unprofessionally, it normally ends this way too.  No exception in this case either....the rolls were burnt, the rice was set out in a cold bowl and thus cold, the meat was hard, and the leaves of lettuce were wilted in the salad.

Two Masks:  White Eyes Only and Full Face
Beignets and Hot Chocolate
The city of New Orleans sent us an e-mail survey after we returned.  Very professional, it was sent to find out why people are not coming to downtown New Orleans after the flood and if when they did, would they come back again.  We had a great time.  We loved the Cafe du Monde experience with Beignets, the Mardi Gras World Experience, Live Jazz, Bourbon Street, Mother's Cafe, Beignet Cafe, the electric trolley, the St. Louis Cathedral and Market Street. We told them about the first night when we nor the other hotel residents in any of the city weren't happy that the city [not the hotel] turned off the water so we couldn't take showers. Nor were we happy with the hidden charges of $30/day parking. We are big boys and girls and can handle the additional cost if we're told in advance and can budget for them. The Wyndham Hotel did the right thing and gave us a relatively small credit for the inconvenience..Professional.

I wrote a handwritten letter to Nottaway Plantation telling them that I think due to the fact that we were told the house tour was included in the price of the dinner and we didn't get to tour the house through no fault of our own, that we felt we should get a partial refund.  It's been four weeks, no response. This just confirms my theory...if the experience begins unprofessionally it will end this way too.  Interestingly enough on the way to New Orleans we stopped at a Panera Bread.  It was only after we had gotten fifteen miles away that I began eating my order and it was actually not what I had ordered. I wouldn't have been able to spot this as the order "looked" the same but it clearly tasted different.  I wrote to the manager and received a $4 gift certificate for the next time I returned.  The experience began professionally and ended professionally.  What's right for me is that ONLY professional entities get my return business and my free positive advertising.

“When the customer comes first, the company will last”
~ BJ Winchester


  1. Nottaway Plantation responded to my letter by telling me that they had read my blog and that I was trying to just get something for free. I only wanted to tour the Nottaway Plantation which I paid for in my dinner. The Top Manager was accusatory and not responsive or professional. Again...Houmas House gets my vote Nottaway is a great hame as it is Not a way to treat customers!