After an executive career at top New Orleans hotels, Janice now owns Bay Life Gifts and volunteers her expertise to local tourism and relocation programs.
- story by Caitlin Bourgeois
That sums up the generosity of Janice.
Janice has lived a life where her career was to cater to the needs of others. As a professional hotelier for 30 years, Janice served some of the most renowned hotels in New Orleans. She was the first female director of sales and marketing for The Fairmont-Roosevelt, forging the way for other women in the hotel industry.
After working for some notable institutions in New Orleans – the Royal Sonesta and the Westin, to name a few – Janice settled into a role as director of sales and marketing with the Windsor Court Hotel. During Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, she packed her most prized possessions (her Waterford crystal being among those – Janice loves a good table setting) - she settled into the Windsor Court to ride out the storm.
That particular weekend, the hotel was hosting parents of Tulane University freshman attending opening weekend at the school. When all flights out of the city were cancelled, many families were forced to stay at Windsor Court Hotel for the duration.
“The Windsor Court was known for its original artwork,” said Janice. “The storm sucked the artwork and antiques right out of the Presidential Suite.”
Afterward, with the city shut down and in chaos, Janice led the executive team as it planned to help guests get home.
“We took all the cars we had, figured out how many people would fit in each car ,” she explained. Guests struck out in convoys of five cars each. Each convoy included a member of the hotel team to make sure that they arrived safely to their destination.
Janice returned to the hotel once the city reopened. “How do you restart a city? There was no occupancy, all the conventions had cancelled – no one was coming in,” Janice said. She catered to all who were coming into the city – insurance adjusters, bank management, environmental clean-up management. Slowly by the month, services started to return to normal.
Now Janice resides full time in Bay Saint Louis, where she owns and operates Bay Life Gifts in The Shops of Century Hall. Her shop has been open for six years. Stability grows within her retail setting each year, allowing her more time to focus on community efforts. Spending half her life busy from dusk ‘til dawn, she mastered the art of juggling some very full plates.
Janice served on the board of The Arts, Hancock County for two years, delving into her deep love of local art. Bay Life Gifts specializes in representing local artists to continue her support and to satisfy her creative passion. She currently serves as the tourism liaison for the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, and she also sits on the eight-person Hancock Tourism Board.
Janice hails from Natchez, where she grew up joining her beloved father as he worked as a developer and realtor. As a nod to him, Janice is also currently serving as the co-chair on the Hancock Chamber of Commerce’s Relocation Committee with Regan Kane. Together, they are helping foster an atmosphere that will attract potential residents to Bay St. Louis, which was recently named “Best Place to Live in Mississippi.
One of the best examples of their efforts is the Parade of Homes event. On Saturday, July 18, the second annual Parade of Homes will go from 11 to 5 pm, showcasing almost double the number of homes from the first year. Builders, brokers and more will be able to open homes to the public for viewing.
“I grew up going to [home] construction sites with my father,” said Janice. “This event is most dear to my heart, in honor of my father.”
Janice and her partner, local realtor Lisette Ecuyer, live in a gorgeous cypress fisherman’s cottage in the heart of Old Town. The couple have expanded it from a tiny 850 square foot residence to an expansive oasis. It’s clear to see the joy they had in creating the space and what it means to Janice, especially when she talks about her father.
Nikki Moon is a longtime friend of Janice’s, along with being a former colleague and a current co-member of multiple organizations. She knows the effort that Janice brings to all that she’s involved in, and that her passion is unparalleled.
"When Janice takes on a project, such as co-chair of the [Hancock County] Chamber’s Relocation Committee, she takes it on 120%,” said Moon. “She is committed, untiring and is extremely supportive of her community.”
Visit Janice at her shop, Bay Life Gifts, located at 112 S. Second Street in the Shops at Century Hall, for help finding perfect gifts with her personal touch, opening a wedding registry or finding that beautiful piece of local artwork.
Also join her for the second annual Parade of Homes on Saturday, July 18, and see the love that she holds for the Bay Saint Louis community.