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General Manager of The Royal Sonesta New Orleans retires after 47 years

Alfred Groos

Alfred “Al” Groos retires after impactful tenure at The Royal Sonesta New Orleans, having enhanced its Mardi Gras events and dining options, and guided it through significant crises since 2006.

NEW ORLEANS – In celebration of his longtime service and commitment to New Orleans’ hospitality industry, Sonesta International Hotels (Sonesta) announced the retirement of General Manager Alfred “Al” Groos, who has helmed The Royal Sonesta New Orleans as General Manager since 2006. Groos began his career with Sonesta 47 years ago, working as a food & beverage trainee. Journeying into a leadership role, he served as the opening General Manager for the Chateau Sonesta, helping to convert D.H. Holmes, the historic, pre-Civil War department store on Canal Street, into a 263-room luxury hotel in 1995. He also managed The Royal Sonesta Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1996 – 2000.

Heading back to the Big Easy in 2000 to take the role of General Manager at The Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Groos helped shape the hotel into the landmark destination it is today. Notably, Groos’ influence includes playing a key role in the creation of the hotel’s premier Mardi Gras event, “Greasing of the Poles,” as well as the concepting for the hotel’s restaurants and bars – PJ’s Coffee Café, Restaurant R’evolution and The Jazz Playhouse.

Considered by many as the official kickoff to Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, Greasing of the Poles happens every year on the Friday before Fat Tuesday, drawing local and international crowds alike to view the ritualistic greasing of the hotel’s support poles as a practical means of preventing overzealous crowds from shimmying up the building for a better parade view. The event, which has grown into the most popular non-parade event during Mardi Gras thanks to its music-filled, star-studded atmosphere, will celebrate its 55th year in 2025. For the past 18 years, Groos has commenced the festivities, helping guide local celebrities to compete in the pole greasing competition and encouraging the crowd to join in the fun during this safety demonstration-turned-celebration.

In addition to its signature Mardi Gras event, the hotel has become a dining destination thanks to Groos’ leadership. The opening of PJ’s Coffee Café in 2010 marked the local coffee brand’s very first café concept. Still open today, guests can enjoy high quality PJ’s Coffee alongside pastries and sandwiches from the hotel’s award-winning catering and pastry kitchen. In 2012, Groos furthered the property’s dining reputation by partnering with acclaimed Louisiana culinary visionary, Chef John Folse, for the opening of Restaurant R’evolution. The fine dining restaurant continues to serve reimagined interpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine and is one of the top restaurants in the city.

Outside of his work as General Manager, Groos has long been active with the wider New Orleans community. In partnership with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Groos launched the “Got Gumbo” Cook-Off, which recently held its 22nd annual fundraiser in March. The event was created to bring awareness to the “gumbo” of services offered by United Way to the New Orleans community.  Groos has also sat on many local boards and commissions over the years to support the city of New Orleans, including the French Quarter Management District, the New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association (President 2003), and New Orleans and Company (Chair 2005).

Under his leadership, Groos led the hotel staff in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Ida, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He leaves behind a team of strong and passionate individuals, many of whom have worked at The Royal Sonesta New Orleans for 30+ years.

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.