Royal Sonesta New Orleans Hotel | French Quarter Hotel | Bourbon Street Hotel

Royal Sonesta New Orleans

Press Kit


Management Profile

Profiles of key members of the management team at the hotel.

Alfred L. Groos
General Manager

Alfred L. Groos was appointed General Manager of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans on April 1, 2006.  After graduating from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Groos started his hospitality career at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans as a trainee.  In 1994 he moved to the former Chateau Sonesta Hotel New Orleans to become the hotel’s opening general manager. In 1996 Groos was named General Manager of the Royal Sonesta Boston. Groos returned to New Orleans in 2000, when he rejoined the former Chateau Sonesta Hotel as General Manager.

In 2003, Groos served as President of the New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association. The Association, which is comprised of hospitality professionals of the Greater New Orleans area, represents the lodging industry and provides a means to further professionalism, knowledge, and profitability.  That same year, Groos was honored with Where Magazine’s 2003 “General Manager of the Year” award.

Groos has served on the board of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and in 2005, was named Chairman of the Board. He currently serves on the Bureau’s Executive Committee.  In 2006, Groos was sworn in as the Vice Conseiller Gastronomique for the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. In 2007, Mayor C. Ray Nagin appointed Groos as a Commissioner to the board of the Morial Convention Center, whose exclusive mission is to spur economic growth and development that will attract out of state visitors to the state. Groos currently holds the Secretary position on the Morial Convention Center's board.

In 2009, Groos was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Administration.  He was selected by the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, to the French Quarter Marigny Historic Area Management District Board of Directors. The organization’s mission is to strengthen the historic area within its boundaries and maintain it as a vital component of Louisiana’s tourism industry.

In 2010, Groos was selected as an honored member of Sonesta’s Corporate Operations Committee responsible for overseeing the daily operations of certain newly developed Sonesta properties. 

Brigette Folse
Director of Sales & Marketing

Brigette Folse was named as the hotel’s director of sales and marketing in January 2015. Folse is responsible for the leadership, effectiveness and productivity of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ sales organization. The position’s primary responsibility is to guide sales strategies in all market segments towards maximizing hotel revenue. Folse joined the Royal Sonesta New Orleans in 2013 as the director of sales and has demonstrated exemplary leadership abilities that have positively impacted her team’s effectiveness. “Brigette Folse is a solution-driven goal-oriented leader. She possesses strong interpersonal skills that propel the production of our sales team to exceed their goals. We are confident that under Folse’s direction the sales and marketing teams will exceed expectations. Brigette Folse is an asset to our executive team and we are fortunate to have her talent on board,” said Alfred L. Groos, president and general manager of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Folse has over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry that includes overseeing several major hotel openings. Before joining the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Folse served as the associate director of sales for the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. While at Loews Hotels, Folse served as associate director of sales at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa in San Diego and as the national sales manager for the opening of Loews New Orleans. Folse has held additional managerial positions at both the J.W. Marriott and Hotel Monaco in New Orleans.

Juanita Hill-Kennedy
Director of Human Resources

Juanita Hill-Kennedy joined the hotel as human resources director in May 2015.  Hill-Kennedy is responsible for developing and directing hotel policy in accordance with Sonesta International Hotels Corporation standards relative to all human resources activities at the French Quarter property. Specifically, Hill-Kennedy will oversee new hires, manage employee relations, help guide career development, and oversee promotions and relocations at the hotel.  Working closely with management, Hill-Kennedy will also help guide Sonesta’s Culture of Caring community initiatives at the New Orleans property.  She will monitor employee morale while effectively managing retention and increasing employee productivity.

Immediately prior to joining Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Hill-Kennedy served as region human resources manager at Iv-AGA Engineering, a Metairie-based firm with offices in Louisiana and Texas, where she was responsible for recruitment, training and employee relations.  An expert in the field of human resources, Hill-Kennedy has also worked as a highly successful independent consultant.  At Harrah’s Entertainment, Hill-Kennedy served as regional director of recruitment and employment over a workforce of over 5,000 employees. Juanita Hill-Kennedy pursued her undergraduate studies in the field of education at the University of New Orleans with some course work at Honolulu Community College in Hawaii.  She is certified as an SPHR-Senior Professional in Human Resources and most recently obtained certification as an SHRM-SCP, an honor bestowed by the Society of Human Resource Management.  Hill-Kennedy’s professional affiliations include NOLA SHRM, the New Orleans SHRM chapter where she served on the board of directors as the organization’s diversity director.  She is also a member of the Society of Human Resources Professionals.

Mark Ernst
Assistant General Manager

Mark Ernst was named assistant general manager of the newly renovated Royal Sonesta New Orleans hote. He joined the Sonesta team as our Food & Beverage Director in March 2014.  In his new role, Ernst serves as second in command to the hotel’s general manager and will remain primarily responsible for food & beverage operations, while also overseeing and leading the rooms division of Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Ernst comes to us with 30 years hospitality  experience, including 20 years in management .   Ernst’s leadership has been instrumental in positioning Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ entire range of culinary offerings as top dining destinations and go-to experiences in New Orleans. Prior to his time with Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Ernst worked for several years as assistant director of food & beverage at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, and was a food & beverage director at the San Francisco W Hotel.

Brian Englehart
Director of Rooms

Englehart joins the Royal Sonesta team after having served at some of New Orleans’ premier hotel properties and hospitality entities. Previously, he was director of operations at Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter, general manager of Limousine Livery luxury transportation service, general manager of The Saint Hotel, director of hotel operations at The Roosevelt New Orleans and director of housekeeping with The Ritz Carlton. In total, Englehart has nearly 25 years of career experience in executive hotel service and hospitality.

Paul Stieger
Director of Engineering

Steiger comes to Royal Sonesta New Orleans with more than 20 years of hospitality industry experience. Most recently, he served as director of engineering at the 800-room Nickelodeon Resort and Suites in Orlando, Florida. He also has an extensive brand protection background from his time as Central Florida district manager for the Steri-tech Group, where he oversaw service operations for more than 1,100 hotels and restaurants. Steiger also has supervised the operations end of hotel transitions in both Florida and New Orleans.

Daneen Zeringue
Director of Revenue

Daneen Zeringue's career in hospitality first began when she joined the Sonesta team in 1993. She started at the front desk with an interest in rooms operations where she soon realized her long-term goal was to become the hotel's general manager. In 2005 Zeringue was appointed the general manager of the  former Chateau Sonesta in New Orleans. Her focus shifted to revenue management as it became a critical role in the hospitality industry. Zeringue has found a happy work-life balance as the revenue director at Royal Sonesta New Orleans since 2009.

Zeringue holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola University New Orleans. 

Jeff Mattia
Executive Chef

Royal Sonesta New Orleans welcomed Jeff Mattia to the team in May 2016. He brings a farm-to-table approach to our food-and-beverage outlets, as well as its catering operations. Mattia has passion for local farms and sustainable farming, working with growers like Covey Rise, Chappapeela, Two Run and Southern City Greens.

Mattia, who previously served as executive sous chef at Hyatt Regency New Orleans, is a Connecticut native who began cooking while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, setting up field meals for up to 10,000 troops. Following his service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University.

His professional experience includes working at the prestigious Mohegan Sun Casino and at the Foxwoods MGM Grand Casino, where he served as chef de cuisine at the four-star rated Craftsteak. Mattia has also worked under several high-profile chefs. He also held a position as executive banquet chef at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Connecticut before relocating to New Orleans in 2010 to work as executive sous chef at Besh’s Restaurant August. Mattia was also executive chef for American Sector at The National World War II Museum.

“Besides an impressive work history, Chef Mattia has developed a real knowledge of the New Orleans market,” says Al Groos, Royal Sonesta New Orleans general manager. “In addition to an incredible attention to detail, his cooking has wonderful imagination and soul that our guests will really enjoy.”


Press Trips / Media Rates

Our public relations consultant will consider requests from media to visit the hotel based on availability and evaluation of the assignment.

Please contact either of the contacts below to discuss potential dates, story angles and your proposed outlets. Thank you for your interest in the Royal Sonesta New Orleans!

Tambry Slavich, Zehnder 504-962-3711

Elliot Hutchinson, Zehnder 504-962-3723 


New Orleans’ Hotelier and Award Winning Trumpeter Forge Historic Partnership

The General Manager of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Alfred L. Groos, and Grammy-nominated, Billboard award-winner Irvin Mayfield are investing in the future of “America’s music”: jazz. In March 2009 these two industry giants premiered a world-class music destination rooted in the rich musical traditions that New Orleans is noted for. The stylishly sleek Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans opened on the site of the hotel’s former entertainment venue, “The Mystick Den.”

Located in the heart of the historic French Quarter, Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse invites music lovers to experience Jazz on world-famous Bourbon Street seven nights a week with shows starting nightly at 8 p.m.
“The Playhouse is where jazz lives and moves forward towards the future,” explains jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield. The club is a direct reflection of Mayfield’s sense of adventure, style, creativity, and passion for his art form. The artist has fashioned the perfect platform to showcase New Orleans’ jazz legends and emerging young artists such as jazz vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, trumpeter Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown, and the eclectic style of musician Shamarr Allen. 

Regular weekly performances include:  Sunday nights with Germaine Bazzle, one of New Orleans’ premier jazz vocalists; Monday nights with Gerald French & The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, the longest continuously performing jazz band in New Orleans since 1910; Burlesque Ballroom with Trixie Minx Fridays at midnight, a modern spin on a classic 1960's Bourbon Street Burlesque Show with a rotating cast of soloists all performing classic strip tease to live music, bringing quality Jazz & Burlesque back to its original home on Bourbon Street.

The Royal Sonesta New Orleans has certainly demonstrated a commitment to perpetuating the New Orleans’ culture. “Directly on the heels of hurricane Katrina, we created the highly successful Women in Jazz music series specifically as a vehicle to support our female jazz vocalists. The hotel wanted to do our share to help restore the heartbeat of our city, and music is certainly an important element of daily life here,” said Alfred L. Groos. “Our partnership with an artist of Irvin Mayfield’s stature and artistic accomplishments propels that commitment to a level that is unprecedented in New Orleans,” he continued. “Al Groos and I are proud and excited about the opportunities that such a venture offers to both the local community and the visitor seeking an authentic New Orleans experience,” echoes Irvin Mayfield.
The design of the room speaks to the mood that the music of jazz evokes. Classy, but playful, is the vibe that is mirrored in every aspect of the room’s detail. The result is a sexy, classic club that captures the essence a Bourbon Street nightclub at its finest.

Irvin Mayfield has certainly established himself as one of the most decorated and recorded jazz artists of his generation. Mayfield has already forged a highly successful career as a versatile trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger, and recording artist. Appointed by the U.S. Senate in 2003 as the Cultural Ambassador of New Orleans, Irvin Mayfield’s mission embodies his steadfast commitment to growing the only truly American musical art form, jazz, for audiences for generations to come.
Audiences will feel right at home at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. Now, more than ever, the hotel is “the” destination of choice for all visitors seeking an authentic music and travel experience in the city of New Orleans.

Click here to learn more about the Playhouse.


Hotel History

A brief history of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans

The Royal Sonesta New Orleans opened in September of 1969, and has since become a landmark on Bourbon Street.  The site of this grand hotel enjoys a history that dates back to 1721. That year, French military engineer Adrien de Pauger first laid out the city of Nouvelle Orleans…New Orleans.  The block of land where the hotel now stands originally consisted of houses, stables, gardens, courtyards, and carriageways. 

During the 19th Century, Bourbon Street grew to be a commercial mecca hosting a variety of businesses on the site including: a costume shop, a bakery, Dr. Alexander’s herb garden, a laundry, a vinegar factory, and a winery. 

In 1890, the American Brewing Company, makers of the popular Regal Beer, purchased the winery.  Through time, the Brewery expanded removing the historic yet deteriorating buildings, and ultimately encompassed the entire frontages of Bienville, Bourbon, and Conti Streets.   The American Brewing Company was closed in 1962 and the building was demolished two years later. 

Little remained of the brewery when Lester Kabacoff introduced the Sonnabend's, of the family who founded Sonesta International Hotels and Corporation, to this prime location on Bourbon Street in the late 1960s.  Lester had been the developer of the Royal Orleans Hotel (formally a Sonesta managed hotel) and soon had a hand in the creation of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. 

Richard Koch and Samuel Wilson, Jr., who were known as pioneers for the restoration of local building treasures, created the design of the new and last French Quarter Hotel.  The duo was famous for designing the most prominent examples of New Orleans architecture not the least of which was the signature of the New Orleans skyline, the Superdome. 

In 1967 the Vieux Carre Commission approved the plans and construction began on the $16 million Royal Sonesta New Orleans. 

The exterior is designed to look like the typical 1830s New Orleans row houses, a unique French Quarter architectural style that came about as “American” styles began to influence the area after the Louisiana Purchase.  The hotel opened its doors in September of 1969. 


Hotel Awards & Recognition

 Royal Sonesta New Orleans Awards & Accolades

• ConventionSouth presents the Royal Sonesta New Orleans with a Top New & Renovated Meeting Site Award for 2015.
• Meetings South Magazine voted the Royal Sonesta New Orleans the “Best of the South” 2014
• The Royal Sonesta New Orleans awarded a 2014 and 2013 Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor for its outstanding hospitality achievements
• U.S. News & World Report names the Royal Sonesta New Orleans one of the top ten ‘Best Hotels in Louisiana.’
• U.S. News & World Report ranked the Royal Sonesta New Orleans among the Top Four Hotels in New Orleans in 2011
• Royal Sonesta New Orleans named ‘Best of the South’ by Meetings Focus South Magazine
• TripAdvisor’s travelers named the Royal Sonesta New Orleans the Top Five Hotel in New Orleans for Business
• The Royal Sonesta New Orleans named 7-time winner of the AAA Four-Diamond Award
• Royal Sonesta New Orleans named 9-time winner of the Gold Key Award from Meeting & Conventions Magazine
• The Royal Sonesta New Orleans named 11-time winner of the Pinnacle Award by Successful Meetings Magazine
• Royal Sonesta New Orleans awarded 6-time winner of Excellence by Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine

Restaurant R'evolution Awards & Accolades

• Wine Spectator recognizes Restaurant R’evolution with the Restaurant Wine List Best of Award of Excellence in 2014
• Wine Enthusiast Magazine ranks Restaurant R’evolution among the top 100 “Best Wine Restaurants”  in 2014 and 2013
• Silver Medal winner in the Dessert Category of the Fleur de Lis Culinary Awards at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience 2014
• Restaurant R’evolution named “Best Of” Easter Brunch New Orleans by Gayot, 2014
• Restaurant R’evolution named 10 Best Foodie Spots in New Orleans  by USA Today, 2014
• Bar R’evolution was named 10 Best Bars in New Orleans by ABC News, 2014
• Restaurant R’evolution named “Best Of” Dining Out for New Year’s Eve New Orleans by Gayot, 2013
• Restaurant R’evolution named Best of Winter in New Orleans by Afar: The Experiential Travel Guide, 2013
• Thrillist Nation ranks Restaurant R’evolution in The World’s 12 Best Restaurants for Carnivores in 2013
• Restaurant R’evolution named 2013 Top 10 Thanksgiving Restaurants in New Orleans by Gayot
• Restaurant R’evolution earned 4 Beans (Excellent) from The Times Picayune Restaurant Critic Brett Anderson.
• Conde Nast Traveler names Restaurant R’evolution one of the Top 70 “Best New Restaurants in the World” and “Best New Restaurants in the American South” in 2013
• Restaurant R’evolution named as one of the 2013 Top Ten New Restaurants in the U.S. by Gayot
• New Orleans Magazine named Restaurant R’evolution “2012 Restaurant of the Year ”

PJ's Coffee Cafe Awards & Accolades

• The Times-Picayune ‘Readers Choice Awards’ named PJ’s Coffee the city’s Favorite Coffee House
• PJ’s Coffee awarded Best Coffee Shop in Where Y’at Magazine’s Reader Poll

Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse Awards & Accolades

• In 2014, USA Today’s named Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse among the top ten venues for live music in New Orleans.
• The Playhouse was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor in 2014 and 2013 for a consistent outstanding travel review on the world’s largest travel site
• Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse voted “Best Jazz Club” in Where Y’At Magazine’s 2013 and 2012 Readers’ Poll.
• Royal Sonesta Hotel honored with Offbeat Magazine’s ‘Best of the Beat’ Bourbon Street Award for bringing quality Jazz music to Bourbon
• Where Y’at Magazine named Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse the “Best Jazz Club” at the 2011 ‘Best of the Big Easy’ Awards
• Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse awarded Offbeat Magazine’s ‘Best of the Beat’ Business Award 2010
• Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse bartender Tiffany Soles awarded New Orleans Magazine’s 2010 Bartender of the Year.
• named Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse the “Ten Best Places in New Orleans to Listen to Jazz”
• Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown voted Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse the “Number One Pick in the Big Easy”

Desire Oyster Bar Awards & Accolades

• Desire Oyster Bar won “Best Float” at the 2014 Annual United Way “Got Gumbo” Cook-off
• Desire Oyster Bar is honored with Tripadvisor’s 2013 Certificate of Excellence for a consistent 4.5/5.00 rating
• Desire Oyster Bar won “Best Seafood Gumbo” at the 2011 Annual United Way “Got Gumbo” Cook-off
• Desire Oyster Bar’s Gus Marshall won the 2011 New Orleans Oyster Festival’s Oyster Shucking Contest

New Orleans Destination Awards & Honors

• New Orleans was named the number one "Quirkiest City in America" by Travel + Leisure magazine, March 2015.
• Condé Nast Traveler has named New Orleans the number one "U.S. City for Business Travelers," February 2015.
• Ebony magazine named New Orleans named New Orleans one of its "14 Top Travel Spots for 2015," February 2015.
• New Orleans was named a "Top U.S. Destination" for travel in 2015 by users on, February 2015.
• New Orleans was named one of the 10 Most Popular Valentine's Day 2015 Destinations by, February 2015.
• named New Orleans one of the top "13 Destinations to Book Your Next Adventure," February 2015.
• The New York Times named New Orleans one of its "52 Places to Go in 2015," January 2015.
• New Orleans was named one of the Top 15 Destinations for 2015 by, January 2015.
• named New Orleans the best emerging budget travel destination on its calendar for March of 2015.
• Lonely Planet named New Orleans one of its "Best in the U.S. 2015" destinations, December 2014.
• New Orleans was named the "Friendliest Homeport" as part of Porthole Cruise Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Awards, December 2014.
• Rough Guides named New Orleans one of the Top 10 Cities to visit in 2015, December 2014.
• New Orleans was named the number one U.S. City for Food by, December 2014.
• Destination Weddings & Honeymoons named New Orleans one of the top 20 "Best Wedding Destinations of 2015," December 2014.
• ConventionSouth magazine named New Orleans the "Most Meeting Friendly" destination in the southern United States, as voted by readers, December 2014.
• New Orleans was named number seven in GOOD Magazine's 2014 GOOD City Index, which ranks cities by their inspiring nature and possibility, November 2014.
• New Orleans was named the Best Home Port in North America by Cruise Critic in their 2014 US Editors' Pick Awards, November 2014.
• New Orleans won top honors in Travel + Leisure's America's Favorite Cities list, ranking number one in the "Festivals," "Notable Restaurants," "Historical Sites" categories and more, October 2014.
• Conde Nast Traveler named New Orleans one of the Top 25 Cities in the World, one of only five U.S. cities to make the list, October 2014.
• Men's Health Magazine named New Orleans the seventh Friendliest City in America, September 2014.
• ConventionSouth Magazine named New Orleans one of the South's Top 10 Music Cities for Meetings and Events based on reader and fan votes, August 2014.
• New Orleans was named the Best Culinary Destination in the small domestic category by Saveur Magazine, August 2014.
• Cvent named New Orleans one of the Top 10 Meeting Destinations in the United States, August 2014
• Business Facilities magazine ranked New Orleans the 5th best city for Economic Growth Potential and Louisiana the number one Best Business Climate in the USA, August 2014
• New Orleans was named the 5th Friendliest City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler, August 2014
• Travel + Leisure readers name New Orleans a World's Best City, one of only two American cities to make the list, July 2014
• ranks Louisiana the fourth best state in the U.S. for its signature food and drinks, July 2014
• New Orleans was voted one of the Best Convention Cities, selected by readers of USA Today and 10Best, June 2014
• Travel + Leisure readers name New Orleans America's Best City for Night Owls, May 2014
• Travel + Leisure readers name New Orleans America's Best City for Girlfriend Getaways, May 2014
• Forbes recognized New Orleans as one of America's New Brainpower Cities, April 2014
• Conde Nast Traveler names New Orleans the fifth the Best American Cities for Foodies, April 2014
• The city of New Orleans is the fifth most popular travel destination in the United States in TripAdvisor's 6th annual Travelers' Choice Awards for Destinations.
• Among hotel guests, New Orleans was the 7th most-cited U.S. city for its romantic charm, February 2014
•, a financial website, named New Orleans one of the Top 10 Best Cities for Singles, February 2014
• New Orleans was voted one of the 10 Best Romantic North American Getaways, selected by readers of USA Today and 10Best, January 2014
• Coastal Living magazine included a visit to New Orleans as one of "Six Trips That Will Change Your Life", February 2014
• Glamour magazine named New Orleans as a Top 10 Bachelorette Party Destinations in 2014, January 2014
• In the January issue of Food & Wine, the magazine polled its readers for their picks. The "clear favorite" for top dining city was New Orleans, January 2014
• Australia's Flight Centre named New Orleans as one of their Top Destinations 2014. New Orleans is the only city in the United States to make this list, January 2014
• National Geographic Traveler places New Orleans on their Best Trips 2014 list