CS: Get There: The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

Our travel editor’s top New Year’s destination.

New Orleans may have earned renown for its beaded, chest-baring Mardi Gras revelers, but there’s always been a quieter side to this historic city: leafy streets, hidden jazz haunts, elegant Creole cooking. And though Hurricane Katrina took a heavy toll on it, the Big Easy is bounding back, thanks in part to tourism dollars (hint, hint).

This month the city’s Ritz-Carlton reopens after a $100 million renovation. Located two blocks from fabled Bourbon Street, the hotel—whose basement was flooded by the storm—has upgraded its 527 guest rooms, expanded its spa (Voodoo Love massage, oh yeah), and opened Mélange, a new French-inspired eatery. Also new: only––in–New Orleans extras such as a crawfish concierge and an oyster-bar butler. Spend New Year’s Eve day cheering for the hometown Saints as they take on the Carolina Panthers at the Superdome; later, watch fireworks over the Mississippi from your suite or join the fun in Jackson Square (it’s Times Square without the winter slush—or Ryan Seacrest).

>>ritzcarlton.com; JetBlue flies to New Orleans via New York, jetblue.com.