HotelsArt is at the heart of these hotels around Asia Pacific

Hotels are the new art galleries from Singapore to Yangon


Forget those nights spent in a hotel bedroom staring at an uninspiring abstract wall art print, or a dreary photograph of stacked pebbles. Hotels are now making the connection between guests’ mental stimulation and their heightened satisfaction during a stay by framing art as a way of interacting and creating memorable encounters with their guests.

In the lobby of the Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel in Seoul, you can chill out gently rocking on the hotel’s green-seated swings while you wait to check-in; or, sleep under artwork featuring everything from multi-coloured peeled apples to large ruby-red lips.

Hotels seem to like apples. In Singapore, the One Farrer Hotel welcomes guests with an iconic bronze green apple sculpture at the main entrance, alongside Artemis, the Greek God of lifestyle, floating upon a reflective pond, a work by Kumari Nahappan, one of Singapore and Greater Asia’s premier conceptual artists. It does not stop there. In its rooms, the hotel offers an artistic touch with nearly 700 commissioned pieces from artists in Asia. The hotel also runs daily in-house guided art tours.

Increasingly, hotels are the new art galleries, splashing their walls and walkways with contemporary art and artefacts, and hiring curators to advise on investment-worthy art, some of it of museum quality.

“People want more from a hotel lobby these days,” said William Haandrikman, general manager of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. “Elegance, of course, but engagement, too. Pretty decor is nice but forgettable. Art, much more than decor, sets the stage for an unforgettable stay experience.”

In Singapore, the 41-room Art Deco Vagabond Club, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, was inspired by the French designer Jacques Garcia, whose design philosophy is “all things in excess”. The Vagabond Club lives up to that philosophy with a unique art-inspired experience, embracing an artist-in-residence programme, art tours and a collective of local artists that make the Vagabond Club their home once a week. Every art piece has been personally sourced and commissioned by the hotel’s owner, Indian-born property developer, Satinder Garcha. These include a brass rhinoceros used as a reception desk, a golden monkey sculpture by French artist Franck Le Ray and walls covered in a mix of original works and prints.

The huge mural at Adnate Perth’s Art Series hotel.

A platform for local and international artists
Also in Singapore, a long-time art collector, Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s (PPHG) extensive corporate art collection has been featured in a newly-launched art publication.

The works of 80 local and international artists have been showcased in the publication, The Art of the Journey, as part of its project to document the art pieces and assets it owns and houses across all its properties. To date, it has catalogued more than 750 works for its properties in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Australia. “More than just appealing to art lovers or the culturally-minded traveller, our art collection is an extension of our deep partnerships with the artists themselves, and signifies our commitment towards supporting local talent,” said Wee Wei Ling, PPHG’s executive director of asset, lifestyle and corporate social responsibility.

Art meets pizza at Anantara Hoi An Resort.

In Hoi An, Vietnam, art and food will come alive on the Rue des Arts with the October opening of Art Space at Anantara Hoi An.  A collaboration between Anantara Hoi An Resort, March Gallery and the Precious Heritage Museum, Art Space features original work created by local and international artists in Vietnam. It is curated by UK artist Bridget March, who also conducts watercolour classes for guests as part of the resort’s artist-in-residence programme.

Still in Vietnam, in Cam Ranh, The Anam boasts an eclectic collection of hundreds of artworks by local artists ranges from vivid landscapes and abstract oil paintings to striking photography.

Driven by his interest to get to know the local artists personally, The Anam’s former general manager Herbert Laubichler-Pichler enlisted Nguyễn Hồng Vân, who opened Nha Trang’s first art gallery, The Rainbow Gallery, to create the artist-in-residence programme. The resort also becomes an open-air artist’s studio each Wednesday, ushering talented local artists onto its grounds to practice their craft.

“Cam Ranh and Nha Trang are famed for their beaches, islands, and fresh seafood,” said resort owner Pham Van Hien. “We believe this area must also be renowned for its art due to the many talented local artists here, and we’re positioning the resort as a gateway to Vietnamese art and culture.”

Christian Develter’s lithograph of Khin San Chin.

The Awei Metta golf resort in Yangon shows the work of Belgian artist Christian Develter, who visited in 2012 the hill tribes of the remote Chin State where women tattoo their faces, symbolising strength and beauty. Develter was subsequently commissioned by Awei Metta to produce a series of lithographs, combining classic Asian beauty with this ancient custom. The portraits, which adorn some of the 72 rooms, and appear to stare back provocatively into the viewer’s eyes.

Art in Macau’s spotlight
In Macau, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has had the support of several of Macau’s top resorts for Art Macao, a five-month extravaganza of exhibitions, performances and festivals.

Sands China’s integrated resorts The Venetian Macao, The Parisian Macao, the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip, and Sands Macao showcased “All That’s Gold Does Glitter – An Exhibition of Glamorous Ceramics”. At Wynn Macau and Wynn Cotai, the four-month art exhibition “Wynn – Garden of Earthly Delights” of contemporary art is influenced by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece painted during the Renaissance period.

Wall art W Bali Seminyak. (Ian Jarrett)

Paint your quirks
Few would enter an IHG’s Indigo brand hotel without noticing their trademark quirky, in-your-face art around their properties, be it murals drawn by urban artist Don Lowon on the walls of Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, or Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road’s showcase of various radio types that pay tribute to the road’s history as the home of Bangkok’s first radio stations.

In Australia, nine Art Series hotels offer original artworks and prints on the walls, dedicated art channels on the television, art libraries, art tours and art utensils on supply. The latest Art Series hotel, The Adnate in Perth, will showcase an imposing mural by the hotel’s namesake artist, painter Matt Adnate, that stands 25 storeys high. The artist will also collaborate with an Indigenous artist on a 50-metre-long exterior laneway mural and one above the hotel’s main staircase.

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