Strike up the Dixieland Band... let the celebrations begin... and let's get this party started!!!
Registration is now officially open for Sandra Stillwell Presents: The Belle of New Orleans!
The perfect setting for this not to be missed weekend of fun, fashion and dolls is the elegant Bourbon Orleans Hotel, our convention “home” in the charming, historic French Quarter – and it’s Orleans Ballroom, which has the distinction of being the oldest, most historic ballroom in New Orleans!
Perfectly situated between famed Bourbon and Royal Streets, this Vieux Carre’ treasure holds a fascinating, storied history…
Debuting in 1815 as the Orleans Theater, the opulent jewel rivaled the old theaters of Europe in grandeur and -- only to be brought to ashes by arson one year later.
Quickly resurrected in 1817, a grand ballroom was added to the gilded masterpiece to host high society balls for the next half century. Nights at the Orleans were agreed to be the most impressive galas held on American Soil.
In 1827, the Ballroom became meeting place for the state and house legislatives. It is rumored that Andrew Jackson announced his intention to run for office in the Bourbon Orleans.
In 1881, both the Orleans Theater and Ballroom were acquired by nuns to house a school and convent -- which remained for the next 83 years.
Construction on the Bourbon Orleans Hotel began in 1964, and the famed Orleans Ballroom was refurbished to its former prominence.
Three centuries of splendor, secrets, seduction and schooling are preserved in the mysterious opulence and memories of “La Nouvelle Orleans” – where many stories have been spun about the crème de la crème of New Orleans and other "spirited" characters who have been rumored to visit on occasion!
And now, it’s our time to make our own Sandra Stillwell Presents memories and leave a bit of our “spirit” within those legendary walls…I, for one, can hardly wait!
Our Theme --
The Belle of New Orleans will celebrate the elegance and fun whimsy New Orleans is known for, while paying tribute to her unique French and Spanish heritage by highlighting creations of iconic couturiers from these European capitals of fashion -- and explore the interesting connections between them.
We’ll discover New Orleans’ hidden gem designers and learn about the socialites and exclusive shops they designed for.
We’ll learn about the mystique and customs of the Mardi Gras season and it’s connection to Debutante Balls.
Our “Belle of New Orleans” will waltz us back in time to the years of grand Carnival balls – when social rituals were strictly observed and coveted invitations extended to only the crème de la crème of New Orleans society.
She’ll take us on a leisurely stroll down St Charles Avenue in the posh Garden District, and shopping on fashionable Canal Street for the proper royal wardrobe of a Mardi Gras Queen.
Our focus will be on 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s fashions, but we will highlight other eras of New Orleans style.
No matter the era -- from jazz brunch at Brennan’s to dinner at Antoine’s , on the viewing stand of a parade or dancing the night away at a Mardi Gras Ball, our “Belle of New Orleans” is going to be one exquisitely dressed doll!
Convention Package –
Your Belle of the New Orleans souvenir package will be an exclusive collection of couture inspired fashions -- with just the perfect twist of elegance, glamour and fun you've come to expect from "Sandra Stillwell Presents”.
Also included with your registration will be:
- Thursday evening opening dessert reception
- Three breakfast programs
- One Lunch
- Two Dinners
- Table gifts
- Interesting Programs and Speakers
- Movie breaks, surprises, raffles, and lots of fabulously fashionable fun!
- An exclusive, behind the scenes tour of the Louisiana State Museum’s fashion archives with curator talk, a museum tour – and other surprises! (Details to be announced later)
But there’s still more!!
You’ll have first opportunity to purchase or pre-order extremely limited fashions from the Sandra Stillwell Presents: The Belle of New Orleans convention collection, including several made of the finest French fabrics, direct from Paris!
These fashions are designed to fit our favorite 16” star, but some may fit other doll bodies.
However… Though we make every attempt to have the souvenir fashions available at convention, we are dependent not only on shipping, but also on factories meeting deadlines and customs passing deliveries through. In the event that any of the souvenirs are not delivered in time so that we can present them at convention, they will be mailed as soon as possible. I very much appreciate your understanding where this is concerned!
Registration Information -
Limited to only 50 attendees, this intimate soiree is the not to be missed event of the summer!
Last year’s Sandra Stillwell Presents convention sold out in record time! There has been much enthusiasm since our New Orleans announcement, and I expect our 2016 convention to follow suit!
The Belle of New Orleans will show us a weekend packed with phenomenal fun, gorgeous fashions, southern elegance, unforgettable memories and super surprises!
You won’t want to miss this party, so don’t delay! Get your reservation in (as soon as possible), plan your (or your doll’s) wardrobe, grab your dolly dance partner, and let the good times roll!! Or, as they say it in “N'awlins"… Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!
If booked within our Sandra Stillwell Presents group room block and paid in full by cash, check or money order by July 1st, the registration fee is $500. After July 1st, the fee is $550.
An additional $150 will be added to registrations booked outside of the Sandra Stillwell Presents group room block or for guests not staying at the hotel.
A $25 service fee will be added to payments other than cash, check, or money order.
A nonrefundable deposit of $100 will reserve your spot. Payment plans can be arranged on request.
It is important that you RSVP by email if you are planning to join us.
Once you have RSVP’d, your space will be held for 1 week.
For anyone who has not RSVP’d, registrations will be accepted according to postmark.
A $125 cancellation fee applies to all cancellations prior to July 1stth. After that date, no cancellations can be accepted.
Checks or Money Orders for registration should be made payable to Sandra Stillwell, and mailed to:
The Belle of New Orleans
c/o Sandra Stillwell
8305 Blue Lick Rd
Louisville, KY 40219
Companion registrations will be available if purchased with a full registration. Please contact me for details.
I am always happy to work with guests in any way possible to make your convention experience enjoyable, so if you have any questions, concerns, or need any special arrangements, please do not hesitate to ask!
We will be able to offer a very few number of absentee registrations – most of which have already been spoken for by those on our RSVP list. But there is still time to get your name added to the list before finalizing our numbers with the factory – so if interested, please contact me as soon as possible -- because if additional absentee packages become available, they will be filled according to position on the RSVP list before being made available to the general public.
Hotel Information –
As mentioned earlier, our 2016 convention hotel is:
The Bourbon Orleans Hotel
717 Orleans Street
New Orleans, La 70116
For a preview of our beautiful spaces and a little information about our fabulous hotel, please visit the hotel’s website (be sure to scroll down the page and click on the “history” to learn about her interesting past lives”).
I’m thrilled to report that we’ve secured the following special group rates:
Single/Double: $139 + tax (king or double beds)
Please contact me directly for information on Triple or Quad rates, private balcony rooms, or suites.
We have secured the special Valet parking rate of $32 + tax per night.
Premium Parking, which may offer lower rates, also has garages around the French Quarter – but these lots fill up quickly and require walking.
To get the party started, the room rates include a “welcome” drink in the hotel bar (where you can enjoy a great jazz band!) , as well as breakfast served in the hotel restaurant on days other than Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when we will have breakfast programs in the Orleans Ballroom. The breakfasts on our event days may include souvenirs and/or table gifts, for which you must to be present to receive unless previous arrangements are made.
The Bourbon Orleans offers complimentary Wi-Fi in rooms and throughout the hotel, as well as bottled water, tea, and coffee in rooms. (Please be sure you stay well hydrated and keep a bottle of water with you on all outings).
The hotel also has a beautiful salt water pool for those who want to take a dip!
Ideally located directly in back of St Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square, the Bourbon Orleans is in very close walking distance to sidewalk artists, shopping, historical houses, museums, jazz clubs, and famed dining hotspots all around the charming French Quarter -- including Café Dumonde (home of the original New Orleans beignet -- open 24 hrs!), and the French Market! Also to be found are nearby pharmacies and grocery stores!
In order for you to experience all the fun and excitement New Orleans has to offer, I’m excited to say this special rate has been extended from Sunday, August 21st through Thursday, Sept 1st, based on availability! There are SO many fabulous things to do – not only in the French Quarter, but all around New Orleans and along the River -- that I STRONGLY suggest you plan a few extra days. (I recently spent six days from morning till night checking out possibilities for our off site activities and didn’t get to see it all!)
To make reservations please call by calling Monique (504-571-4626) or Jeanette (504-571-4627) at the hotel, Monday thru Friday 8am until 5pm or Saturday 8am thru 4pm, and ask for the Belle of New Orleans Doll Convention Room Block.
If you are arriving no earlier than Wednesday and checking out on Sunday, and would prefer to make your reservations online, please contact me for a link.
The cutoff date to make room reservations in our group block is Monday, July 25 – however, our room block is very limited so I highly recommend you make hotel reservations as soon as possible!!
If you have any issues with the reservations process or booking the dates you need, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’m happy to help!
If you are planning to join us at convention but are not yet ready to make your room reservation, it would be a big help if you could please let me know what days you are planning to be there. I will be monitoring the room block closely to add necessary rooms when possible, but it always helps to have an idea of how many guests to expect each day.
Please remember that it is VERY important to book within our group block (before, during and after convention), as our room and food rates are based on meeting a guaranteed minimum. Your room booking helps defray meeting space rental fees and other costs. It’s crucial that I have your cooperation with this…
The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is located approximately 12 miles from the Bourbon Orleans hotel.
New Orleans Airport Shuttle offers transportation to the hotel for $24 each way, or $44 round trip. Reservations can be made by calling 504-522-3500, or online at www.airportshuttle.com
Taxi rides are $36 from the airport to the Central Business District, for 1 – 2 people, and $15 a person for 3 or more. (This may vary to the French Quarter) Pick up is on the lower level, outside of the baggage claim area. There may be an additional charge for extra luggage.
A little known fact about conventions is that registration fees never fully cover expenses – plus, convention related expenses are MUCH higher at the Bourbon Orleans -- so we'll be having a raffle to help offset extra costs! Dolls, fashions, accessories, repaints, dolly “spa” days or gift certificates... donations of all types and sizes are welcomed and greatly appreciated!!
We had such a phenomenal raffle table last year – and SO much fun drawing for all the “loot” -- let’s make it our goal to have a repeat performance this year!
If you would like to contribute to the fun – and help convention at the same time -- please email me!
Optional Tours -- Pricing and more details forthcoming soon:
Thursday, August 25th –
Mardi Gras World (tour) - http://www.mardigrasworld.com/
Longue Vue House and Gardens (tour and luncheon/curator’s talk, with souvenir fashion) - https://longuevue.com/
We’ll get the party started Thursday morning by visiting Mardi Gras World – where every day since 1947 has been a Mardi Gras celebration!
Our guided tour will take us into the warehouses where Mardi Gras floats are stored and built to watch artisans at work and see the floats being designed and painted. We’ll learn about the history and traditions of Mardi Gras season in the Big Easy!
Who knows… before our visit is over, we just might find ourselves joining in the revelry!
We’ll continue our Thursday outing with a private tour of Longue Vue House and Gardens, the magnificent historical estate built by New Orleans philanthropists Edith and Edgar Stern – where we will hear scintillating tidbits about their lives and travels…
Taking three years to build (1939 – 1942) the grand estate is all original (including furnishings), surrounded by eight acres of breathtakingly landscaped gardens incorporating twenty two fountains, ponds and flowers across the beautiful grounds.
Longue Vue also houses a world class museum of art, artifacts and memorabilia collected by the Sterns throughout their vast travels.
Edith Stern – whose father was president and subsequent owner of Sears and Roebuck, was a very stylish lady and longtime patron of French Couturiers and Bergdorf Goodman Department Store in New York City. As a special treat, our visit will include lunch in the Stern’s “playhouse” – and a small display of vintage fashions from Edith’s closets!
For those interested in New Orleans “spirits” there are two very old, beautiful cemeteries just around the corner from Longue Vue Mansion – in fact, Edward and Edith’s final resting place can be found here. If there is enough interest, we should be able to stop briefly so anyone who would like to can explore.
I am still finalizing details for our Thursday day out – and it may be that we have time to fit one more activity in, so if there’s anything in particular you’d like to do, now is the time to let me know!
Sunday, August 28th –
Plantation Tour -
Centuries ago River Road, down the winding Mississippi from New Orleans towards Baton Rouge, was given the title “River of Riches”, due to the many stately plantations located there. Today, despite years of wars and other hardships, many of these gems have survived, and have been restored to their old glory.
These Plantations have long been a favorite backdrop for Hollywood films, standing as a testament of diligence and wealth, heartaches and happiness, hard work and inventiveness, and a unique southern way of life.
This will be an all day tour, leaving right after breakfast and returning in the evening. We will most likely have time to visit 2 – 3 plantations (to be decided later), having lunch and possibly dinner at one.
We visited 3 plantations on my last visit to New Orleans and loved them all – each for a different reason. I’m hoping to check out others on my next trip there. If there are any plantations you’re aware of that you’d especially like to tour, please let me know as soon as possible.
We will be chartering a mini bus for transportation (or a larger bus if necessary), as the closest plantation is about 40 minutes from the hotel. The price for this outing will be announced after details are confirmed but could vary as much as $50, depending on how many people participate. (Minimum of 15 people required)
It would be a HUGE help in planning – and much appreciated -- if you could please let me know as soon as possible if you’re interested in joining us for the tours on Thursday and/or Sunday! As always, I promise to make every effort to keep prices as low as possible and will give you not only special memories, but great value!
As wonderful as these Thursday and Sunday outings are, there is SO much to do in New Orleans!! I’m happy to organize a group outing on Wednesday August 24th and/or Monday Aug 29th if there is enough interest… but please remember, if we charter transportation the price is greatly dependent on the number of participants.
The two suggestions below are close to enough to drive or take taxis if necessary:
• WWII Museum -- http://www.nationalww2museum.org/
Voted one of the top attractions in New Orleans -- on Wednesday they have a lunch buffet and musical performance in the Stage Door Canteen by the Victory Belles!
• Garden District –
In addition to stately, beautiful homes, there is also a great little fabric shop on St Charles Avenue – owned by the same charming character since 1969! A New Orleans native, Herb is full of great stories about the fashion industry in New Orleans…and he has great (though not inexpensive) fabric, too!
• Also on St Charles Avenue in the Garden District is the House of Broel – in a mansion that was once home to the Liberty Shop, an exclusive dress shop, founded in 1907, that specialized in wedding and Mardi Gras gowns. Bonnie Broel, the owner, was a New Orleans fashion designer in the 50’s and later years, also specializing in wedding gowns. Some examples of Bonnie’s work can be seen on the 3rd floor of the mansion (most are late 60’s or later). The mansion also houses Bonnie’s collection of intricate miniature doll house vignettes. (Requires climbing stairs)
OR…we could visit different plantations that we will not get to see on Sunday – though transportation will be much more of a challenge.
I can also book group meals Wednesday and/or Monday at famed New Orleans historical hotspots such as Antoines, Arnauds (both of which have Mardi Gras costumes and memorabilia on display in private rooms), Brennans (home of Bananas Foster) -- or a jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters (though breakfast is included with your room, this is a lot of fun). All are very close to the hotel and can be visited on your own, too!
I’m certainly open to other suggestions -- just need feedback from YOU guys to know IF you are interested in any extra group activities – and if so, what you’d be interested in seeing!
In closing, I want to thank you all again for your ongoing support and interest in Sandra Stillwell Presents: The Belle of New Orleans!
I know there are many other fun events planned throughout the year, and that dolly dollars and time must be spent very carefully! It means the world to me that you would consider spending yours to be with us!
I hope you can join us in New Orleans for a bit of revelry and celebration of friendships, fashions, fun and dolls!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!
502 3775153 (Please feel free to call or email me with any questions!)