The art of the matter

Striking public spaces in citizenM, Glasgow

A Replica of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa was displayed at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai earlier this year, amid a lot of fanfare. The pure alabaster tower, reproduced from the original drawings of the famous Tower of Pisa, was flanked by high-profile attendees, including the Consul General of Italy to Dubai, and the director of Tuscany Tourism Board, who flew all the way from Italy for the event.

This gets one thinking about the unique functions of art in hotels. Why would a hotel make an investment in art or host a travelling showcase, such as the above? From an owner’s perspective, how much should one invest in art and sculpture? How will one calculate the returns on this investment? Do you really need this expenditure? Several hoteliers politely refused to comment on art from the investment point of view.

We briefly chatted with Omer Kaddouri, president and CEO of Rotana Hotels, about this and he said, “Art is a very important part of the success of a hotel. When you walk in, you want to feel comfortable, you want to feel relaxed and happy – art is an important part of the milieu that provides this character and warmth that defines the mood and the brand itself.

“Having said that, how much value does art add to a hotel and whether the investment would be justified in the long run? That is an interesting question to ponder upon. If I put Picassos in my lobby, I will never get my money back. You know how much they cost. So, it follows that if someone over-invested in art, it would probably make their investment financially unfeasible.”
Iconic pieces of art play a key role in driving visually appealing content for travellers to share with their networks on social media

Art Rotana in Bahrain is a good example of an owner who loves his art. He has his own art collection peppered in all the public areas of the hotel - little sculptures, paintings, and artwork, and it provides a unique character to the property.

Further afield, Soneva hosted two European visual artists at Soneva Fushi, Maldives, earlier this year, to create an exhibition of artwork made exclusively from recycled glass materials and other objects found at the luxury resort. Their visit is part of the resort’s Featured Artist’s programme, which has recently also welcomed Maestro Lino Taliapietra, Martin Janecky, Howard BenTre, and Flavie Audie, among others.

“There are several hotel chains who like to have a lot of art in their public spaces and use that as a way to market themselves. citizenM would be one of those brands,” comments Kaddouri. citizenM not just displays art but sells it too. Art is incorporated in the DNA of the boutique hotel chain and reflects in all aspects of its public and private spaces.

This raises a question about what influences hotel design in general.

Hospitality design has seen significant changes over the last decade. As new hotels are erected and old properties are refurbished, trends in design evolve in conjunction with advancements in engineering, technology, art and style.

Rising travel trends such as wellness tourism, adventure travel and curated experiences have inspired hotel chains to evolve their design philosophy to suit the lifestyles and beliefs of their travellers. To keep up some of the latest advancements in tourism travel, brands are seeing new means of designing spaces.

InterContinental Dubai Marina is one property that makes a striking first impression and leaves a lasting impact on guests with its fascinating contemporary art installations, comprising gigantic Giacometti-inspired sculptures, and subtle engravings and paintings.

Iconic pieces of art play a key role in driving visually appealing content for travellers to share with their networks on social media.

W Doha Hotel & Residences has been promoting its brand as a brand that is ‘dedicated to advancing Qatar’s contribution to the regional and global arts community’. It recently hosted Art 29, a platform for works of up and coming local, regional and international artists, on the 29th floor of the hotel.

Safak Guvenc, general manager of W Doha, said, “We have established ourselves not just as a luxury hospitality brand but also as an entity that is proactively engaged in the community. We have seen growth in the arts and cultural realm of Qatar and the region as a whole. Hence, we have taken this huge step of being the first hotel to dedicate a full space to showcasing these talents. Whether they are budding or established artists, they have a platform to be seen here at Art 29. This is only the beginning of our efforts and the wider public can expect us to strengthen this further in the coming months with more exhibitions lined up.”

Finally, Citymax Hotels, a subsidiary of Landmark Group, has teased us with a unique restaurant concept, where art will be sold without charging a huge commission as the region’s art studios do. The hotel chain has exciting new announcements in Egypt, one in Aswan and one in Alexandria.