The Globe and Mail, May 2, 2016
In the glamorous gold and crimson lounge at Hotel Vagabond in Singapore, Los Angeles music producer/DJ Charlie Wilder, more familiar with dimly lit underground clubs than luxury hotels, is perched at his mixing board, taking transfixed hotel guests through the ABCs of music production. As the Vagabond’s artist-in-residence, he mingles with guests at a nightly cocktail hour in exchange for his meals, a hotel room and a studio space.
Meanwhile, 17,000 kilometres away in the midst of Miami’s hedonistic and glittery Ocean Drive, Monika Zgustova leads a literary salon discussing her female fictional protagonists at The Betsy, a restored colonial-style hotel with white shutters and French windows. The noted Czech author is one of nearly 300 writers in the past eight years who have enjoyed the solitude (in the company of a multitude of books) of the Writer’s Room.
Artists taking up residence in creative-friendly hotels is not new. Legacy properties such as New York’s storied Chelsea Hotel and London’s Savoy have been welcoming artists since the early 1900s. However, these more recent programs keep both artist and guest in mind and boast significantly more luxury than some of the bohemian digs of the past.
Amy Tan, Artist in Residence at the Betsy, hosts a salon with hotel guests and community members.
As hotels seek to attract guests (particularly experience-craving millennials) in an increasingly competitive market, having artist-in-residence programs (along with state-of-the-art technology, high design and grab-and-go food and beverages) is one of the ways to distinguish themselves.
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