Creating art -- and even just looking at it -- has been proven to have psychological and physiological benefits. Researchers at Britain's University of Westminster, for example, studied the impact of art on stress and found that a lunchtime visit to an art gallery reduced the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, in people with very high stress levels. Researchers in 2014 also found that creating visual art improved psychological resilience (i.e., stress resistance) and increased brain activity in study subjects. Other studies have generated empirical evidence linking art production and consumption to increased creativity, memory, cognition, and productivity.
For meeting planners, art has the potential to be a lot more than pretty décor. Used strategically and programmatically, it also can be a powerful way to achieve a meeting's goals and objectives.
Step one is choosing a venue that understands the potential of art and is well positioned to help your group leverage it. The following are six hotels that fit the bill.
Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (Bermuda)
Originally opened in 1885, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club recently completed a $100 million renovation. As part of its makeover, the "Pink Palace" introduced a new public art program in its lobby and public spaces. The 410-room hotel has pieces by artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Nelson Mandela, Banksy, Philippe Decrauzat, and Chinese dissident and artist Ai Wei Wei. Art adorns the hotel's lobby, its signature restaurant, and even its bar. Guided art tours are offered every Saturday at 10 a.m., or by special appointment.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
San Miguel de Allende, a historic village north of Mexico City, is well known for its vibrant arts scene -- and so is Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which boasts a rotating collection of authentic Mexican artwork in its public spaces. Alexandra Long, the 67-room property's first-ever art concierge, manages the collection. Her job is to acquire and display local artwork, coordinate educational art talks and tours, and oversee a monthly on-property art market. The art concierge is just one of several artsy amenities groups can enjoy. There's also the "Artist in You," a welcome amenity consisting of an easel and paint; a "Gardens & Galleries" package that shows off local art venues, like the city's native mask museum, La Aurora design center and Charco del Igenia botanical garden; and art workshops that include creative classes in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and pastel.
Rosewood London (London, England)
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende isn't the only Rosewood property with an eye for art. Rosewood London also has an inner artist. Located in central London, near Covent Garden, the hotel offers an "Art Afternoon Tea" inspired by London's vibrant art scene. Held in the hotel's luxurious Mirror Room, the tea begins in traditional British fashion -- with delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a selection of loose leaf teas -- but concludes with a finale befitting any art aficionado with a sweet tooth: a collection of art-inspired cakes, tarts, and pastries (pictured above) created by executive pastry Chef Mark Perkins, whose desserts resemble works by five of the world's most famous artists -- Banksy, Alexander Calder, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama, and Mark Rothko. It's tea, with a twist.
Hilton Norfolk The Main (Norfolk, VA)
The Main officially opened to the public on April 1 with a permanent $1 million art collection of unique pieces from Burning Man, Art Basel, and other renowned art-focused events. Immediately prior to its official opening, it hosted a private art-focused opening weekend to raise more than $1 million for the local arts community. Called "The Main Event: A Celebration for the Arts," the event took place March 24-26 and was presented by Virginia Beach, VA-based developer Gold Key | PHR, the Virginia Arts Festival, and the Business Consortium for Arts Support. The program included ticketed, art-focused experiences such as pop-up art exhibits, performances from Broadway stars, art lectures, film screenings, exclusive dining experiences, and a black-tie gala. The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Chrysler Museum of Art, d'Art Center, the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, the Governor's School for the Arts, Norfolk's NEON District arts district, and the Norfolk Botanical Gardens were among those that turned the hotel's facilities -- including its 42,000 square feet of meeting space -- into temporary art galleries. The weekend was a case study in what the hotel can achieve for meeting groups that are interested in creating their own, similar art-themed events.
Conrad Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)
Indianapolis probably doesn't rank high on your list of global art cities. Thanks to the Conrad Indianapolis, it should. The luxury hotel has a world-renowned art gallery not near it, but rather inside it. Called the Long-Sharp Gallery, it was named one of the Top 500 Galleries in the World by Modern Painters Magazine in 2015 and features works by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Motherwell, and Russell Young, just to name a few. The gallery is just the start of the property's art obsession, however. The hotel also is home to a semi-permanent exhibit called "Regional Masters," which features artists with a unique tie to the city of Indianapolis, as well as an Art Ambassador program through which trained "art ambassadors" give guided tours of the hotel's artwork.
The ART (Denver, CO)
Denver's The ART is so dedicated to art that it's named after it. Art here is more than a moniker, however; it's a way of life. For starters, the hotel is located in Denver's downtown Golden Triangle neighborhood, which boasts eight museums and more than 50 galleries, fine art studios, and specialty stores, many of which participate in the area's monthly "First Friday" art walks. Held every first Friday of the month, the events take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Visitors can take free Art Bus shuttles to galleries throughout the neighborhood to enjoy food, drinks, and fine art. Back at the hotel, art fills two dedicated art galleries and spills over into the property's 165 guest rooms, guest room corridors, and 4,100 square feet of meeting space. Highlights of The ART's collection include Leo Villareal's undulating 22,000-light art installation in the lobby, the Warhol painting "The American Indian," a life-size Deborah Butterfield horse dubbed "Otter," and a John Baldessari screen print titled "Eight Soups." Complimentary art brochures are available for guests who wish to take self-guided tours, while complimentary guided art tours are offered every Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.