Monday, January 12, 2009 by Dave Blum

So the good news is, New Orleans seems to be alive and well … at least in the French Quarter.  Last Thursday’s treasure hunt program in “Nawlins” went pretty much the way I remember hunts used to go out there, pre-Katrina. Greeting my group of 25 salesmen from Wells Real Estate Funds at their hotel, the Bourbon Orleans hotel, I did a brief intro and then sent the teams out on Stage One of their hunt around the French Quarter.  Thanks to the wonderful, 70- degree weather, we were able to do the the midbrief outside, in Jackson Square, with the final debrief (after Stage Two) taking place back at the hotel conference room.  No problems; great treasure hunt clues; lots of team building ideas generated.

The French Quarter is traditionally one of my favorite locations for scavenger hunts, so I’ve really been disappointed not to have gotten out there these last three years (post Katrina).  To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, what with all the images of floods and suffering bombarding us in the media.  Happily, the Quarter (where we do our treasure hunts) looks and feels almost exactly the same as the last time I was there, in 2004.  I still found the same quaint, narrow streets, the metal-railed verandas, the cafes, bars and restaurants, the antique shops.  At least half a dozen times, I rounded a corner and found street musicians putting out some fantastic, public jazz music.  Yes, the Quarter is touristy, but it always feels like a place where locals also live and work.  Certainly it’s far more than decorative store fronts and souvenir shops!

Treasure hunts in the Quarter almost always go well because 1) It’s a walkable area without hills  2) Jackson Square is a wonderful gathering place  3) There are dozens of statues, plaques and historical signage to choose from for clue locations, and 4) there’s no end to great post-hunt eating/drinking options.  And yes, I indulged myself a bit … beignets at Cafe du Monde; gumbo at Olivier’s; etouffe at Deanie’s.

If you’ve been holding back on a trip to “The Big Easy”, worried that it’s still some kind of disaster area, rest assured that New Orleans is back and looking for visitors.  Don’t miss out on one of the country’s most fascinating and enjoyable cities. AND one of the world’s best treasure locations for team building activities like our treasure hunts!