Howard U Alumni Open Boutique Hotel “The Moor” In New Orleans

Written by Ann Brown

Damon Lawrence noticed a lack of African-American brand ownership and presence in executive ranks in the hotel business. So he teamed up with fellow Howard alum Marcus Carey and launched a boutique hotel management company called Homage Hospitality Group in 2016 in Oakland, California. And now the pair just opened the brand’s first boutique hotel, or as the two call it a “boutique home,” on July 1st in New Orleans. The Moor, developed on the property of a Spanish-colonial home built in 1921, is truly unique.

“It is a brand new four-unit hausotel (hotel) with an African and Moroccan vibe in the Mid-city District of New Orleans on the historic Canal Street. Each of the four units feature living spaces, bedrooms, and kitchenettes. The design direction and property architecture are inspired by the Moors of North Africa’s influence around the world, and pays homage to the melting pot heritage of New Orleans, one of America’s truly global cities. Each new Homage property location will be designed as boutique homes with hotel accents and event programming capabilities, that help travelers get to know the communities they’re within,” the Howard University Newsroom reported.

boutique hotel
Image: Howard University


Lawrence, a Pasadena, Calif., native, earned a bachelor’s in legal communications at Howard. But his interest in hotels stems from a series of jobs he had, from a front desk agent at Thompson Hotel Group’s Donovan House Hotel in Washington, DC, to management at companies such as The Ritz Carlton, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Dusit International.
Meanwhile Carey, who earned his bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on finance, always has entrepreneur dreams. He worked in institutional venture capital and private equity firms.

He and Lawrence aren’t only interested in building a successful hotel brand, they want to empower the communities where their properties are based. “It is important to create a space for travelers that is authentic to the locale of the neighborhood our hotels represent,” Lawrence told the Shade Room. “In order to do that, it requires that locals feel welcome and included in the process of building our brand. Our properties are safe spaces that both our neighbors and out-of-towners can enjoy together.”

The two young entrepreneurs are excited about their future plans as well. Added Lawrence, “We just opened our first location The Moor and it will be followed up by another 10 room property in New Orleans called The Freeman that pays homage to the Treme neighborhood, known as the first place in America that freed people of color were able to purchase property. We also have a 102 room property called The Town Hotel in Downtown Oakland that will begin redevelopment late this year.”

Homage also wants to venture out to Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn, New York; and Detroit.


boutique hotel
Image: Howard University