A sculpture by Rob Fischer at Park Hyatt New York // © 2015 Park Hyatt New York
Feature image (above): The Phoenician’s art gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. // © 2015 The Phoenician
As the experiential travel market grows, luxury hotels are evolving to meet demand, and one standout trend that continues to heat up is hotel art collections. Quickly becoming as vital as on-site spas showcasing local treatments and signature restaurants with farm-to-table cuisine, these cultural experiences are taking the lodging industry by storm.
Gone are the melanges of pastel watercolors depicting local landscapes in the same color palette as the bedspread. Instead, today’s hotel art collections are curated for the connoisseur.
Park Hyatt New York demonstrated this when it opened last August with a professionally curated collection of 350 works of art, including 10 pieces specially commissioned for the hotel.
“We looked at this as a collection with a story,” said Erica Samuels, owner of Samuels Creative & Co., who curated the collection for the hotel. “We wanted the art to feel as if it belongs in the home of someone who lives in the neighborhood, someone who loves abstraction and visual music.”
Samuels noted that visitors to Park Hyatt New York, which was designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, have expressed interest in the artwork.
“We’re getting calls from the hotel concierge because people are asking how to purchase some of the pieces or how they can get in touch with the artists,” Samuels said.
But Park Hyatt New York is not the first hotel to create an art collection to impress visitors. The U.S. Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel in San Diego, Calif., has a $6.5 million art collection that began with a circa-1910 portrait of the hotel’s namesake, Ulysses S. Grant, commissioned for the hotel’s opening that same year.
And in the late 19th century, Chicago’s Palmer House, now owned by Hilton, featured the largest collection of Impressionist art outside France at the time thanks to Bertha Palmer, one of the hotel’s original owners. Today, the collection can be found at Art Institute of Chicago.
When Bellagio opened in 1998, the Las Vegas property also debuted its Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA), which continues to showcase a rotation of museum-caliber exhibitions on loan from international collections, such as the recent “Faberge Revealed” exhibit, organized in partnership with Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
“We borrow from museums and private collections all over the world, and we look for exhibition themes and/or artists that are household names,” said Tarissa Tiberti, executive director of BGFA.
While Bellagio also has a permanent collection of artwork installed throughout its public spaces — including a number of original Pablo Picasso works in hotel restaurant Picasso — BGFA charges admission, hosts art-and-wine pairing events and is available for private parties.
At The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., hotel guests and visitors alike can enjoy a complimentary self-guided tour of 12 works in the Phoenician Art Collection, ranging from European antiques to Native American art. Those who take the tour also receive complimentary tickets to Phoenix Art Museum, which has two exhibitions sponsored by the hotel each year.
“As part of our partnership last year, we were able to offer our guests VIP consideration for an exhibition that required advanced reservations,” said Denise Seomin, director of public relations and marketing communications for The Phoenician. “In the past, we’ve also had the museum director come to the hotel for a membership reception and provide tours and insights into our collection. The partnership has been very favorable to both entities, and we’re always finding new and different ways to benefit not only the museum’s patrons, but also our guests.”
The focus on art by hotels has entered the digital landscape, as well. This past February, Le Meridien officially kicked off its partnership with artist and photographer Gray Malin — known for his vibrant and playful photos — through the launch of the brand’s new “Follow Me” video. As part of a multifaceted global art collaboration of the same name, the digital art adds another dimension to the hotel experience while generating brand awareness for Le Meridien via a social media campaign that includes an Instagram contest.
“Le Meridien is more than just a hotel brand; it’s a space where curious-minded travelers feel inspired to connect with their destination and in our public spaces,” said George Fleck, vice president of global brand management for Le Meridien and Westin at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “The ‘Follow Me’ video installations are intended to stop our guests in their tracks and inspire a sense of discovery.”