All over Asia, from Bangkok to Taipei, it’s onward and upward with the arts as hotels deepen channels between their guests’ accommodation and their access to art.
Today, hotels are investing big money in art galleries and collections along with dispatching guests into the environs with art experts.
Here are some hotels that are rewriting the rules of engagement between their guests and the local art scene.
The Reverie Saigon, Vietnam
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The Reverie Saigon came onto the scene in 2015 as Vietnam’s most lavish hotel. Boasting interiors by some of the biggest names in design from Italy, the hotel has created an immersive design experience.
“I can’t think of any other property anywhere in the world that has brought together so many of Italy’s leading furnishings design brands,” said Giulio Cappellini, art director of the Milan-based Poltrona Frau Group and an iconic trendsetter in the industry. “Except perhaps a museum.”
Beyond its grand marble floors, vibrant mosaics by Sicis of Italy, and walls covered in Venetian fabric from Rubelli, there are a number of custom-made design pieces that are causing guests to pause.
The hotel’s ground floor lobby features a ceiling installation of hand-blown Murano glass fashioned in the shape of Vietnam and accented by LED-lit crystal and steel ‘Arabesque Egg’ chandeliers. Outside the La Scala ballroom sits an 1895 Bechstein grand piano transformed into art by Baldi with the addition of a mosaic veneer of malachite stone and chiselled bronze.
The hotel’s ‘Pearls of Saigon’ art-centric package surveys 125 years of Vietnamese history through art. It’s not art history, but the history of Vietnam as seen through its art. Highlights of the two-night stay include a custom-curated tour of the city’s art scene and a private, five-course lunch and tour at Salon Saigon, a fine arts library and salon dedicated to presenting contemporary works and showcasing Vietnamese heritage. Pearl guests can also book a private tour highlighting some of the most talked about design pieces within the opulent hotel.
Palace Hotel Tokyo Art Collection – Orinokatachi by Yuko Nishimura
Venturing out and about is not always necessary when it comes to exploring a destination’s art culture. At the Palace Hotel Tokyo, which opened in May of 2012 after a $1.2 billion development, the owners sunk seven figures of US dollars into an art collection that’s winning raves from guests and inquiries from people who keep hearing about the hotel’s collection. Why? Because the hotel’s collection includes some of the country’s most talented, contemporary (and up-and-coming) artists.
More than 1,000 works of art vie for eyeballs throughout the hotel, with the grandest pieces hung from the walls and put upon pedestals in the lobby, in reception and in meeting spaces. (The hotel itself makes its own claim as a work of art, winning renown as the best designed, large hotel in the world in 2014 from Travel + Leisure magazine in the U.S.) The artwork is bound by the hotel’s insistence on natural connections. The individual pieces, whether in granite, basalt, felt or acrylic, are individual echoes of this hotel-wide commitment.
Palace Hotel Tokyo Art Collection – Sunflower by Masahito Katayama
“For some years now, it’s been evident that sophisticated travellers not only seek encounters with art during their hotels stays, but expect it. So our investment in putting together a well-curated, million-dollar collection was an instinctive one, as part of the evolution of our brand,” said Palace Hotel Tokyo Executive Director & General Manager, Masaru Watanabe. “We set out to cater to the modern luxury traveller, and investing in quality art seemed like a natural part of the process.”
For visitors intrigued by the Japanese art scene the hotel created a bespoke Transcendent Tokyo experience – art-centric tours privately guided by some of the city’s most knowledgeable on the subject. For those who want to take a memory of the art home the hotel has published a book detailing its collection.
Chedi Club Tanah Gajah Ubud, Bali
After the noted Indonesian designer Hendra Hadiprana repurposed his family estate as The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah Ubud and relocated to a new family estate on the edge of the Petanu River, it was only a matter of time before he wanted others to experience the new place, Bumi Duadari. Hence, an initiative by the hotel’s management group, GHM, called Art Expressions.
Access to the setting alone is worth the two hours budgeted for every Art Expressions class. The Petanu courses through a dramatically pitched ravine that’s as jungled as the pages of a storybook. The lush wilds have been tamed to gardens on the grounds of Duadari, where each student painter takes to he canvas under the watchful eyes of local artists who’ve been groomed by Hadiprana himself.
“It’s not about the end product,” said Ketut Susena, one of the teachers whose work has been on display in Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, and China. “Here it’s about the process. We want guests to feel inspired by the stunning landscape around them and translate that onto canvas in a way that comes naturally to them.”
When the painting is done, or in the midst of the work, the estate’s staff lay out an afternoon tea in a pavilion set amongst Hadiprana’s sculpture garden.
Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan
Last year, the Grand Hyatt Taipei launched its first rotating art exhibition, featuring works by Mainland Chinese artist, Ming Xu, and his Taiwanese wife, Pai Chiu. “We want our guests to be engaged and intrigued by the art, and not for the works to feel like a corporate acquisition,” said Jan-Hendrik Meidinger, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.
Taipei’s most seasoned luxury hotel is well-known for its sizeable collection of quirky art installations, watercolor paintings, and calligraphy works by Taiwanese artist Suyin Zhou. Many of Zhou’s black and white paintings adorn the walls of the hotel’s 850 guest rooms and suites, including one of a large swirl, which hangs in the entrance to one of the corner suites.
In the hotel lobby, a giant wooden sphere by Korean artist, Jae Hyo Lee, is on permanent display while a life-like statue of a ‘Standing Guard’ (nicknamed ‘Charlie’) by US artist Marc Sijan, stands to attention near the elevators. Both sculptures were sourced from the hotel owner’s private collection and are often a focal point for visitors.
The Anam, Cam Ranh, Vietnam
Unlike its stunning beaches, offshore islands and delectable seafood, Vietnam’s bustling coastal city Nha Trang isn’t so famous for its art. Yet.
Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, the general manager of the Colonial-inspired beachfront resort Anam, in nearby Cam Ranh, has joined forces with Nguyen Hong Van, who opened Nha Trang’s first art gallery called The Rainbow Gallery, to create an intimate seven-hour tour welcoming art enthusiasts into the galleries and homes of talented local painters, sculptors and photographers.
“By introducing art lovers to local artists and their work, the Nha Trang Art Tour provides the ultimate ‘insider’ knowledge about the destination,” said Laubichler-Pichler.
The life story of one of the tour’s artists, Mai Lộc, epitomises Vietnam’s rapid transformation. Once living under the poorest conditions as a miner, he met a Norwegian couple by chance in 1995. They kept in touch and for his wedding, the couple gave him a camera, transforming his life. Today, Mai Lộc is a sought after photographer who has exhibited his striking black-and-white and colour images of Vietnam’s landscape and its people in Canada, Finland, Austria and other parts of the world.
Anam, which celebrated its grand opening in April 2017, has emerged as a gateway to Vietnamese culture, with Mai Lộc’s photography and many other local artists’ works adorning its villas, suites, conference facilities and other venues.
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