Denver Hotels with Curated Art Collections that Transform the Guest Stay
by Julia Davis
Entering a hotel lobby can be a dramatic and transformative experience for hotel visitors. The lighting, music, scent, furniture, and color scheme are carefully assembled to create a unique atmosphere and ambiance for the space. A hotel’s curated art collection can personalize that experience – transporting guests to a new sensory and emotional level. As hoteliers seek to distinguish hotel stays, a notable art collection is a vibrant progressive approach to rise above the competition.
Art advisor Stefania Panepinto, owner of Panepinto Galleries and Panepinto Fine Art in the New York City area explains, “A curated art collection creates a sense of place, going beyond interior design to connect with the hotel guests. Art warms a space, creating a distinctive vibe by creating authentic emotional connections.”
Panepinto, herself a fine artist, has curated permanent art collections for Marriott, Element, Study Hotels, and Hilton’s Canopy Hotels. “A permanently curated art collection is a culturally significant way to immerse guests into the remarkable world of art and create longevity as a sought-after destination,” adds Panepinto. “An intimate, exclusive experience, whether for boutique hotels or larger brand properties, is the goal.”
“A hotel’s art collection inspires and encourages immersive moments for guests. Art transforms lobbies, seating nooks, meeting rooms and incidental spaces into vibrant memorable places,” Panepinto explains. “Art can turn a seating area into a soothing retreat or an elevator nook into an Instagrammable gallery. Art energizes a space, inciting a visceral reaction.”
Art cultivates a luxury lifestyle brand to document travel memories. “In our fast-paced digital society, guests desire aspirational luxury. Art creates a cultural energy, making for ‘wow’ social media moments, and inspires visitors to a new, enlightened, lighter place,” Panepinto elucidates.
Hotel owners are looking to inject style and personality through art, while showcasing work they love. Permanent art collections fill lobbies, hallways, conference rooms, public spaces, and individual guest rooms. “Guests are surrounded by a continuous flow of art throughout the hotel’s spaces,” explains Panepinto.
Art collections in hotels end up inspiring major art districts with various collections in public spaces, museums and galleries, supporting the city, neighborhood, local galleries, artists and adjacent properties. “An evocative art collection increases foot traffic and marks a hotel as a destination for viewing renowned artwork,” says Panepinto.
With this in mind, several Denver hotels — The Ritz-Carlton, The Ramble, and The ART, A Hotel — are taking their artistic endeavors to new levels by using art curation to build iconic identities. These forward-thinking hotels move beyond design and style, approaching curation as a way to capture the hotels’ unique spirit. “These inspiring installations include local, national, and globally acclaimed artists,” notes Panepinto. We spoke with art curators at the The Ritz-Carlton, The Ramble, and The ART, A Hotel about their art and how it affects the guest experience.
A Sense of Place at The Ritz-Carlton Denver
The Ritz-Carlton in Denver is located in the heart of downtown overlooking the Mile High City with the majestic Colorado Rockies as its backdrop. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the hotel, and to celebrate the occasion they recently redesigned and revamped the hotel and its art collection. “The hotel, which opened in 2008, has always boasted stunning pieces of art throughout the property,” explains Tabish Siddiquie, the hotel’s General Manager. “With the redesign and luxurious enhancements to the hotel, we wanted the artwork and décor to convey a sense of space that is Denver and the Colorado lifestyle.”
For this reason The Ritz-Carlton worked with Barbara Lewis of Lewis Art Consulting to select six distinctive pieces by four local artists. The newly curated art collection entitled, “A Sense of Place: Crafting Urban Adventures” features works by local artists Sarah Winkler, Jeff Richards, BrendaBiondo, and Madeline Dodge. “Denver is a world-class destination that allows you to craft your own urban adventure,” states Siddiquie. “At The Ritz-Carlton Denver we enjoy innovating memorable experiences for our guests that speak to the Mile High City’s unique sense of place, and draws upon the city’s adventurous spirit and modern architecture.”
When entering the re-imagined lobby you notice a combination of clean urban details complemented by images often seen in nature. The artwork behind the front desk, entitled Eros & Agape-Union by Jeff Richards, is comprised of approximately eight miles of embroidery thread, each thread stretched back and forth across the surface of the painted wood panel and looped around one of more than 600 finish nails attached to the back surface. Eros & Agape is meant to convey the two different qualities in the word love. Agape is the love of compassion. Eros is the love of desire. The piece is the contemplation of these two qualities of love, and how they relate to each other.
The lobby lounge features a piece called Rust by Madeline Dodge. The modern images were created over the past 10 years. Dodge arranged raw steel squares in her garden, allowing the passage of time and the elements to oxidize and transform them by stages into rust. This process created a record of natural events, which translated into more than 150 digital images, subsequently organized into five series according to the season when they were produced. Using a process of digital photography and pigment-based inks, images of the steel plates were translated into archival, signed limited editions.
Another striking piece is the hand-blown glass chandelier by Robert Custer that resides above the lobby’s grand staircase. It was part of The Ritz’s original artwork when the hotel opened in 2008. It is modern and thought-provoking, blending seamlessly with the new artwork and design.
Overall, using artwork to enliven the hotel was a way for The Ritz-Carlton Denver to create a luxurious sense of space that depicts the unique and varied elements of the Mile High city.
Step Back in Time to A 17th Century Salon at The Ramble
The Ramble Hotel, an elegant 50-room boutique hotel in Denver’s popular River North (RiNo) Art District, is a feast for the senses. The hotel took its inspiration from Madame Rambouillet’s French Salons of the 17th century, regarded as a platform for the exchange of ideas and a catalyst to creating community. Appropriately, each space within the hotel was designed with the intent to foster meaningful conversation, engagement and interaction among guests.
The Ramble channels the spirit of the French salons within the walls of the hotel, offering an authentic introduction to the River North Art District. The Ramble and RiNo’s creativity, cuisine, music and art are truly felt within The Ramble Hotel.
Selecting the Ramble’s artwork was a critical part of creating an atmosphere of timeless worldly elegance within the Ramble’s contemporary setting. The Ramble worked with NINE dot ARTs for the hotel’s art curation to create this one-of-a-kind experience. “The artwork was curated specifically for the space and is permanent to the hotel,” states Martha Weidmann, CEO and co-founder of NINE dot ARTS. “The international selection supports the vision of the hotel to embrace the ethos of rambling (wandering without a destination) and emphasize adventure and exploration.”
There are more than 250 pieces of art in The Ramble, including nearly 100 pieces from artists who live or work in Denver. “The hotel is the first hotel in RiNo, so the art and design have come together to create an impressive and inspiring atmosphere, and the inclusion of local art was paramount to elevate the hotel’s setting as a gateway to the district,” explains Weidmann.
Ryan Diggins, owner of The Ramble explains, “The artwork in the lobby intended to shy away from larger statement works and instead focus on a collection of smaller pieces designed to draw guests in for a closer look and discussion.”
Artists using a variety of mediums are seen throughout the lobby and communal areas.
Natascha Seideneck’s resin-covered photographic work greets guests in the lobby. Laura Shill’s cyanotype prints lead the viewer up the stairs, and Collin Parson’s mirrored- and laser-cut acrylic piece adorns the mezzanine.
Diggins’ favorite piece in The Ramble is Deborah Oropallo’s “The Lion Tamer,” which flanks the front desk. “From afar it looks like a traditional oil on canvas portrait, however, upon closer inspection, you realize there is an obvious modern spin overlaid on the portrait touching on the duality of gender dynamics then and now,” Diggins explains.
In addition to the artwork in the lobby, each of the 50 unique guestrooms features a salon-style wall above the headboard. “These gallery walls were designed to be unique to each room layout and enhance the hotel’s rich furnishings, while creating a true salon experience,” says Weidmann. “Much like collecting souvenirs and treasures as you travel, the items were collected from antique malls and vintage stores and are featured alongside local artists.”
Like the RiNo Art District in Denver, The Ramble Hotel, through the use of artwork and design, is a true cultural experience for its guests. It is a welcome and inviting space that allows the art and design to tell a story about Denver and all that the city and RiNo have to offer.
Artwork Abounds at The ART, A Hotel
Denver’s iconic The ART, A Hotel immerses guests and visitors in a one-of-a kind hotel artwork experience. Located in the heart of downtown Denver and close to world-class museums, a thriving theater district, numerous sport teams, restaurants and more, The ART is all about creating a truly experiential stay.
Given the name of the hotel itself, it is no wonder the artwork was of upmost importance. For this reason, the hotel turned to renowned art curator Diane Vanderlip. Among Vanderlip’s many accolades, she was founding curator for the Denver Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Department for 32 years. As Vanderlip explains, “The ART, A Hotel is contemporary, relevant to the city and its surrounding environment, surprising, sophisticated, engaging and very high quality. And so is the art.”
When guests arrive they are met with Leo Villareal’s undulating 22,00-light art installation in the porte cochere, commissioned specifically for the hotel. Immediately upon entering the hotel lobby, guests encounter various artwork and sculptures carefully curated by Vanderlip. Most of the works throughout are owned by philanthropists Lanny and Sharon Martin and are on loan to the hotel. There is no formal plan for rotation Vanderlip explains, but changes are made from time to time.
The hotel’s Welcome Gallery and Portico Gallery offer visitors an opportunity to encounter many inspiring and renowned artists. “The artists were chosen to provide our guests with unique and unexpected opportunities to enjoy works of art in a luxurious and sophisticated, yet casual environment,” explains Vanderlip. “In nearly every instance, the artists were chosen from specific spots throughout the hotel to maximize the power of the work and provide an engaging experience.”
The concept for the guest floors and suites was that five artists would be selected, one to represent each floor. “On each floor we display a major work by one of those artists which guests would see as soon as they get off the elevator,” explains Vanderlip. “We then commissioned each of those artists to do an edition of prints for us to display in all the guestrooms on that floor.”
The ART, A Hotel aims to be a unique, world-class, and memorable hotel that allows the artwork to be a main focal point.
Hotels are taking design to the next level through a curated art collection. This is a singular way to captivate guests and customize the experience, not just for the hotel, but also for the neighborhood and the city. It is also a way to support local artists – through commissions, as well as support the Arts Districts in the neighborhoods where the hotels reside.
“There is nothing more exhilarating than walking into a hotel and coming face-to-face with dramatic, evocative pieces of art that generate lasting memories,” says Panepinto.