Seeking to take advantage of a crowded market, some hotels become “art museums with rooms”


Guests arriving at the ART Hotel do not encounter a lobby, but an art gallery, part of a rapidly evolving trend where hotels strive to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.

“We’re not just a hotel,” said Aaron Bajorek, managing director, standing in front of the Lewitt. “We are a mini art museum.”

The museum suite at the ART hotel in Denver.

Hotels are adding large, noteworthy art collections – usually from local artists or representing local culture – to better connect with their communities, attract neighborhood businesses that are increasingly important to their restaurants and bars, and provoke type of social media. social media attention that has become essential in the tourism industry.

“Today’s travelers are much more socially connected and more demanding,” said Helen Chun, associate professor in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. “They have higher expectations. And creating comfortable rooms and pleasant halls is no longer enough.

In the past, art in hotels “was really pretty generic,” said Michael Collier, a gallery owner who helped fill the Hermosa Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., With the works of the “cowboy artist.” Lon Megargee. “It just adds to the flavor and romance of the place.”

You can sleep with a Pablo Picasso at Conrad Indianapolis, which has four “Collection Suites” with original Picassos, Salvador Dalís and Andy Warhols; suites start at $ 699 a night. There’s also a Picasso in a room at Rosewood Miramar Beach in California, which also has a Frank Stella, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and Normal Rockwell. The nine 21c museum hotels collectively exhibit what the company calls the largest public art collection of the 21st century.

A room at the White Elephant Palm Beach.
A room at the White Elephant Palm Beach.Nikolas Koenig

“It’s not just about leveraging art to make your business successful. People are looking for meaning and connection in a time of so much uncertainty, ”said 21c chief curator and museum director Alice Gray Stites.

The Blake at Taos Ski Valley has a Georgia O’Keeffe. There is a Robert Rauschenberg and a Jennifer Bartlett among the 120 original modern and pop pieces of the White Elephant Palm Beach. The art of the Grand Wailea in Maui is valued at over $ 30 million and includes pieces by sculptor Fernando Botero and artist Fernando Léger.

You can admire a Calder at the newly opened ModernHaus SoHo in New York City and a Degas at Perry Lane in Savannah, Georgia, built around a story about a fictional benefactor who left Savannah to travel the world as a dancer.

ModernHaus SoHo Hall with a Harland Miller.
ModernHaus SoHo Hall with a Harland Miller.Nikolas Koenig

“Art can evoke feelings and create conversation,” said Andrea Locorini, Marketing and Social Media Manager at Perry Lane, “so that art is part of your vacation, of the experience.”

The Banneker, which debuted in Washington, DC, in June and is named after the Black Surveyor who helped develop the neighborhood, features abstract artwork in bedrooms and public spaces, including a mural in the lobby by Victor Ekpuk, which is also on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

“When a collection is intentionally selected for hotel and location, the hotel can create a somewhat deeper connection for guests,” said Anna Wunderlich, Banneker’s curator.

As this trend expands, hotels are becoming “essentially museums with rooms,” said Matthew Whitaker, director of upscale hotel industry art consultancy Canvas.

“They are trying to establish a sense of belonging,” he said. “And it happens in a more provocative and evocative way through art. “

Denver is a hotbed.

Across the street from ART, in the emerging Lower Downtown, or LoDo, the former director of the nearby Contemporary Art Museum was hired to commission 300 works by local artists for public spaces and bedrooms at the Born hotel. At the Maven, a 10-foot open hand crafted by a Colorado sculptor from reclaimed wood hangs from the ceiling just inside the front doors, the largest of the hotel’s roughly 700 original pieces of art. and a connected block of restaurants and shops.

“It’s kind of a concept of surprise and fun,” said Martha Weidman, CEO of Nine Dot Arts, as she took a tour of the singular pieces hosted here by her Denver-based company which is one of many companies. to help hotels collect and display art.

Hermosa Inn, work of Lon Megargee. "Cowboy dream."
Hermosa Inn, work of Lon Megargee. “The cowboy dream.”Nikolas Koenig

Many of these hotels have partnered with art museums and schools. The Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota, Florida features works from the Ringling College of Art and Design; the Delamar in West Hartford, from the New Britain Museum of American Art; Theodore Hotel in Seattle, photographs and patent drawings from that city’s Museum of History and Industry; the new Seabird Resort and Mission Pacific Hotel, rotating selections of Southern California artists from the Oceanside Museum of Art; and Confidante Miami Beach, graffiti from the Museum of Graffiti. At citizenM’s Bowery in New York City, art from the Museum of Street Art fills a 20-story staircase.

Others are in artistic destinations. ART is adjacent to the Denver Art Museum, whose former curator of modern and contemporary art has assembled his collection. The 250 Main in Rockland, Maine, within walking distance of the Farnsworth Art Museum and the new Center for Maine Contemporary Art, displays work by contemporary Maine artists. Works of art, including pieces by Jenny Holzer and David Hockney from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, rotate through the Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida.

In other cases, art in hotels comes from the private collections of their wealthy owners.

Works at the Post Oak Hotel in Houston, including those by Stella and Robert Motherwell, come from the collection of billionaire owner Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets and the parent company of Del Frisco’s and Morton’s and McCormick & Schmick’s steakhouses.

The Joule, in Dallas, which features artwork by Warhol and others, is owned by billionaire real estate and art collector Timothy Headington; Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, by former Intel CEO Craig Barrett and his wife, Barbara, whose contemporary art and works by classic Western artists such as Frederic Remington fill the hotel.

Most of ART’s pieces have been loaned by its development partner, private investor J. Landis Martin. The 21c was founded by longtime Louisville art collectors Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown. The newly opened Ameswell in Silicon Valley is owned by Philip Maritz, a board member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who has kept the hotel’s permanent collection of contemporary works. The Pizzuti real estate dynasty loaned some of their art to the Joseph, a hotel they developed in Nashville.

The gym at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville.
The gym at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville.

The newly reopened Gansevoort in New York’s trendy Meatpacking District has added an extensive collection of art from President and Founder Michael Achenbaum’s collection, including a Banksy in the lobby.

And Provenance Hotels, whose locations in the Midwest, New Orleans, and the Pacific Northwest (including Seattle’s Theodore) feature notable artwork by Dale Chihuly (Hotel Murano, Tacoma) and Warhol ( Hotel Max, Seattle), were inspired in part by the private collection of CEO Katherine Durant, which includes works by Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Colescott.

Original art can also help differentiate hotels at a time when some are indistinguishable.

“There is nothing more disappointing than waking up in a hotel and wondering, ‘Where am I today? ”Said Aliya Khan, vice president of global design strategies at Marriott International.

Look closely and you will find that the Art Ovation is a Marriott, the ART Hotel is part of the Hilton Curio division, the Born and Banneker are Kimptons, the Maven is owned by Sage, and the Confidante and Oceanside are Hyatts.

Instead of a seamless chain, said Robin Chadha, director of marketing at citizenM, a hotel with distinctive art makes guests feel like “a friend’s apartment.”

And, Khan said, to actually remember the visit.

“I want you to think back to our hotel – ‘It was the hotel that had the sculpture,'” she said.

Jon Marcus can be contacted at


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