The Guest Post: Framing local color
When you have out-of-town visitors, you probably show them interesting local places, including scenic locations, historic areas, and attractions. My Place Hotels follows that line of thinking by showing guests colorful, framed photographs of area highlights on exhibit throughout the hotels.
Many of the framed artworks show the most famous or visually representative nearby places. Other pictures are scenes captured by the artistic eye of professional photographers showing scenes visitors might overlook, like in Wixom, Michigan, where prints by local artists were selected for display through the property’s own #MyWixomPic Contest.
Selection process aside, each My Place Hotel features local sights and scenes in rooms, in the lobby, and along hallways, giving visitors a visual flavor of the community. An image in the Lebanon, Tenn., location is a spectacular panoramic view of Nashville’s skyline at night, fireworks exploding above.
At the My Place Hotel in Ketchikan, Alaska, there are images of mountains, boats, wildlife, and forests. There also are pictures of historic tourist attractions like the colorful row of wooden buildings on piers above the water along Creek Street. In Sioux Falls, S.D., some photos show off the natural rock-and-water beauty at the namesake waterfalls at Falls Park.
Finding art that reflects the community where a hotel is located is important, said Ryan Rivett, president and CEO of My Place Hotels of America. The staff from headquarters and each location’s developers work closely together to make each hotel represent the state and city where it’s located.
“A franchise is built on the basis of community,” Rivett said. “It has really been an exciting period of growth for us, and we rely on the opportunities of the markets that each of us know, and that’s what has made this franchise system grow so well.”
When a My Place location is under construction, Hotel Operations Team Coordinator Tabitha Cantalope works behind the scenes to help with artwork selection prior to a hotel’s opening.
“Typically, like in Watertown (SD), the owner/operators are from there, so they immediately knew what photos they wanted,” she said. “They knew which landmarks to showcase.”
As locations are built across the nation, select works by regional photographers and images from other sources are submitted for approval, Cantalope said. My Place Hotels tries to support local artists and photographers by buying their work, she said. In some cases area visitor’s bureau or tourism group also help fill hotels with spectacular images of area landmarks.
The new Watertown, SD, location has many images from the famous Terry Redlin Art Center located across the street, and from the South Dakota Department of Tourism, said Connie Ward, president and director of operations for Venerts Hotel Management, Inc.
“Being across from the RAC is a huge point of interest we wanted to include,” Ward said. “In the lobby is Terry Redlin’s entire ‘America the Beautiful’ series, which you can sing along with, walking from picture to picture in order! We also have pictures showing the attractions and other fun things in town.”
The hotel also used an old photo from the Codington County Heritage Museum. “Giving a true feeling of Watertown was our biggest objective,” she said. My Place is a proponent of connecting guests with the community.
“We encourage showing guests scenic photos, or historical shots and landmarks. I think it’s important to highlight the city they are staying in,” Ward said. “It’s a unique way to advertise the city and help people get a feel of where they’re staying.”
And aside from the well-known landmarks, it’s fun to show the lesser known areas that visitors may want to seek out. There have been cases where people who live in the region see a photo and say ‘Oh, I didn’t even know that was there!’ ” Cantalope said.
“I love being the one who gets to review them, because a lot of these places I’ve never been to, so when they come across, I’m like ‘Wow, I need to go there and see that!’ It’s absolutely amazing, it’s beautiful,” she said. “As with our new Avondale location: Some of the scenery they have some makes you want to go there and check out the locations in the photos.”