There’s a new concept spreading throughout the hospitality industry that “art is the new food.”
Just how food is seen as one of the best ways to experience a culture, so now are art and artisan goods. At Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa in Arizona, a partnership with its artistic neighbors at Cattle Track Arts not only provides artwork for the resort, but also engages with groups by offering interactive experiences. In this Shakedown, Scott Mason, general manager of Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, discusses the growing emphasis on art and how it shapes group experiences in the industry.
Is incorporating art into group experiences really a newer trend, and why do you think now is the time for it to become popular?
Yes, we are seeing art as a very popular travel trend, especially for groups. We have found that attendees want to learn about a particular destination’s culture when they travel, and art and architecture is such a part of the Scottsdale experience. Groups really gravitate to learning about our city’s history and heritage through the art and artists who have lived and worked here and are represented throughout the resort.
With Cattle Track Arts nearby, has art always been a focus at your property, or do you see it gaining more recent appeal with this burgeoning trend?
We discovered Cattle Track while the resort was being built, and they became great partners and a real, natural extension of what Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa is today. We do see it becoming more popular, as guests are really loving the Cattle Track infusion and experiences that we offer both at the resort and at the artists’ studios less than one-mile away.
How has Andaz Scottsdale started to incorporate this trend into its programming?
Our guests have the opportunity to learn from and create alongside the artists, which includes photographers, sketch artists, ceramicists, etc. The artists really are true partners of ours and open to giving tours and engaging with the resort guests because they’re so intrigued and interested in what they do.
What makes the property standout compared to others offering groups an art focus?
We see a lot of hotels offer artist-in-residency programs, and typically, that includes displaying artwork in the hotel or partnering on special exhibitions. We do all that, but we also offer one-on-one experiences and go off-property, allowing guests to meet the artists personally. The art is engrained in the resort, too. Mary Van Dusen, a Cattle Track artist, made all of the mugs in our restaurant. The compendium design and key cards are other small artistic details in addition to the big pieces of art on display in the public spaces, meeting rooms and guest rooms.
What is your advice to meeting planners trying to test the creative waters, so to speak?
I would suggest incorporating art into breakout sessions or getting the group off-site as a creative team building exercise. It really helps to relax and unwind a bit before you get back to the meetings. Even something as simple as coloring books can give the brain a helpful mental break.