The necessity of art in luxury hotels

Anne Juliette Maurice
Anne Juliette Maurice

The luxury traveler is well-traveled and has seen a good portion of what the world has to offer in terms of lodgings. As such, they have high expectations. Decorating a property with spectacular works of art and becoming a patron of the arts is one viable tactic to appeal to the luxury traveler’s demands. Art is visually stimulating and it creates fascinating environments for guests to interact with and remember after they have left (and talk about later with their friends). When you espouse the arts, you are in essence championing a new point of differentiation to distinguish your property from all others in your comp set.

But where to start? How does a hotel get involved? To help understand some of the nuances of this process, I’ve recruited the general manager of the Hotel Plaza Athénée in New York City, Anne Juliette Maurice, to lend her wisdom. A boutique property, it is in tune with its neighborhood and has wholly embraced the power of art.

From November 2014 to the beginning of February 2015, the Hotel Plaza Athénée in New York City launched Art in Motion, where select works by Matisse and Picasso as well as original printer’s proofs and signed lithographs of modern artists from the private collection of the Galerie Mourlot were exhibited in top suites and the lobby. This is but one recent example of the property’s intimate relationship with fine art and it is with this as a lead in where we begin…

Why should hotels care about art?

Hotels are part of a vivid urban environment made of offices, homes, parks, stores, galleries and museums. So, hotels should naturally care about art. That is especially true for the Hotel Plaza Athénée, which is located steps away from the Museum Mile on the Upper East Side in Manhattan including the Frick Collection, the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim, along with a range of extraordinary galleries.

Is art only for luxury properties?

Art is for everyone. But for our very specific case, we want to cater to our guests who arrive with high expectations. When we launched Art in Motion with the Galerie Mourlot, we also wanted to help our top guests by giving them a chance to visit this winter’s fabulous Matisse exhibition at MOMA as VIPs.

Art is not only for luxury properties. There are so many different forms of art found throughout the city that can appeal to any individual regardless of their socioeconomic background. The value of art is established through the eyes and its interpretations of the viewer. Our guests are drawn to the more classic art whereas an economy hotel may be more inclined to focus on local and/or up-and-coming artists.

What are the best ways for hotels to get involved in the art scene?

We are fortunate that our neighborhood museums attract the most exquisite collections. We are currently partnering with Galerie Mourlot to support and highlight the Matisse exhibit taking place at MOMA. We are exhibiting very rare lithographs by Matisse and other Fauvism painters. This quality of art is expected by our guests and certainly adds to the overall guest experience.

How can hotels develop connections/partnerships with the local art community?

I can only comment on the Hotel Plaza Athénée, and to this end we are working on various partnerships with the MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to include unique packages and special viewing privileges for our guests. Lastly, we are part of the Madison Avenue BID which provides us with a rare opportunity to liaise directly with local galleries. 

What can hotels do to make their art exhibitions or decorations more interactive?

With Art in Motion, we are exhibiting a series of rare lithographs in our suites. On one hand you have to rent that specific suite to enjoy the art; but you also have an exclusive connection with the art. Only four lithographs are prominently exhibited in the lobby and the Bar Seine: two Picasso and two Matisse, adding a unique quality to the environment which any hotel or bar guest.