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CULTURE TRIP: 7 hotels with great art collections

9 Sep 2009

Next time you check into your hotel, have a look at what’s up on the walls or along the corridors. The art in these spaces would probably be worth millions of dollars. We feature some properties around Asia-Pacific that are mini museums in their own right.

CHINA

Park Hyatt Shanghai


The collection: Nearly 100 contemporary art pieces, 80 percent by upcoming Chinese artists like Zhan Wang, Liu Jian Hua and Gao Xiaowu and the rest from Japan, Korea, the US and elsewhere. Displayed in the public areas, guestrooms and restaurants.

Total worth: An estimated CNY18 (US$2.6) million at the time of purchase.

To appreciate it: Guest relations staff will be more than happy to grant any requests for a tour.

Contact: tel 86 21 6888 1234


HONGKONG

Island Shangri-La


The collection: Taking pride of place in this Shangri-La flagship hotel is The Great Motherland of China, a 51m (16 storey) by 14m towering landscape of China, consisting of 250 panels of Chinese silk and which took 40 artists from the Beijing Arts and Crafts Research Institute six months to complete. Their efforts paid off, winning the Guiness World Record as the largest Chinese landscape created.

Total cost: The artwork was a gift to the hotel from the Beijing Arts and Crafts Research Institute.

How to appreciate it: To view the painting in its entirety, take the glass bubble lift from level 39 to 56 (but first, take the lift from the lobby level to level 39). Here, you can enjoy a great perspective of the size of the panel.

Contact: tel 852 2877 3838

Langham Place


The collection: Over 1,500 pieces, predominantly Chinese contemporary art by mainly Hongkong and Mainland-based artists such as the sculpture by Jiang Shuo at the entrance. If some art works don’t seem to blend with the hotel’s muted interiors, that’s intentional as these were chosen to provoke and excite sensibilities.

Total cost: An estimated HK$20 million (US$2.5 million).

To appreciate it: Guests are welcome to do their own tour with the help of an annotated leaflet in English or Chinese, which they can pick up from the Concierge desk. From November, iPods will be available, offering commentaries in English, Cantonese and Japanese

Contact: tel 852 3552 3388

INDIA

ITC Maurya New Delhi

The collection: With a structure and design based on the timeless Buddhist stupa, ITC Maurya had to exhibit art that was equally outstanding and relevant to the magnificent empire (2nd and 3rd century BC) it was named after. Luminaries such as Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, Krishen Khanna, J Swaminathan and Akbar Padamsee all contributed to making a statement on every level of the hotel.

Total cost: ITC Maurya isn’t the only property in the ITC-Welcom Group with all the art treasures, but it certainly has the bulk of it. Collectively, the chain’s cultural treasure trove is worth about US$30 million dollars.

To appreciate it: Any of the guest relations staff can walk interested parties through the hotel and answer their questions regarding what they see.

Contact: tel 91 1 2611 2233

SEOUL

The Shilla


The collection: Both indoor and outdoor spaces of the hotel provide the backdrop for over 2,000 paintings, drawings, ceramic pieces (above are Park Young So’s works) and sculptures (find them in the 9.29ha Sculpture Garden behind the property) that showcase outstanding examples of contemporary Asian and international art. Watch out for the Picasso in the VIP Room and Library bar on the first floor as well as in the Banquet Hall, which also features another iconoclast, Salvador Dali. Sister hotel, The Shilla Cheju also houses a no less notable art collection.

Total cost: At press time, no figures were available.

To appreciate it: Staff at the Concierge desk are trained to answer any questions you may have about any art piece that catches your eye.

Contact: tel 82 2 2233 3131


SINGAPORE

Ritz-Carlton


The collection: Considered one of the finest in Southeast Asia and containing many limited edition art pieces and sculptures by legends like David Hockney, Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and Sam Francis, as well as highly innovative contemporary American talents such as Dale Chihuly, Frank Stella (above) and Larry Zox. About 4,200 pieces fill the hotel’s public venues and guestrooms.

Total worth: S$5 million (US$3.4 million) at last estimate.

To appreciate it: Until December 31, 2010, a “Celebration of Art and History” package at S$960 (US$669) nightly for a three day/two-night stay, single or double in a Deluxe Kallang Bay View Room includes a self-guided podcast tour of the hotel’s art collection and accompanying collateral, daily American breakfast in the Greenhouse, return same-day transfers to the National Museum of Singapore, followed by visit to the studio of artist Ong Kim Seng (subject to his availability), admission fee and 60-minute docent guided tour of the National Museum of Singapore’s Permanent Galleries and the commemorative book, Heartlands – Home and Nation in the Art of Ong Kim Seng. Those guests who wish to just do the tour can always request for the iPod shuffle with the 28-minute commentary by California-based curator Elizabeth Weiner and go wander about on their own.

Contact: tel 65 6337 8888


TOKYO

Shangri-La


The collection: Under one roof are more than 2,000 art works, many of them especially
designed for the hotel and inspired by the words of Bai Juyi, a
renowned Chinese of the Tang Dynasty. He rhapsodises about his
experience of being spiritually healed by the sounds of the pipa
(Chinese lute). The horizontal and vertical lines that run through much
of the art work reflect the delicate strings of the instrument, calling
to mind the image of an oasis for the soul that guests find when
experiencing this Shangri-La hotel.

Watch out for the Chen Jun masterpiece at the first floor bell desk
made out of more than 800 eggshell ceramic tiles, the Jinli Shen golden
lacquer wall relief (top) behind the 28th floor reception counter and the
Dancing Peony glass wall made of 80,000 Swarowski crystal beads.

Total cost: An estimated JPY100 million (over US$1 million).

To appreciate it: From October to November 2009, the hotel
will offer a JPY45,000 (US$483) “tour-stay package”, consisting of one
night in a Deluxe Room, a tour by a guest relations officer and
afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge.

Contact: tel 81 3 6739 7888

Margie T Logarta

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