France is home to some of the world's best museums. The museums that most interest French hotelier AccorHotels right now aren't the ones in its own backyard, however. Rather, they're the ones inside the boutique lodgings of 21c Museum Hotels, an American hotelier in which AccorHotels plans to acquire an 85 percent stake, the company announced yesterday.
Philanthropists and contemporary art collectors Laura Brown and Steve Wilson established 21c Museum Hotels in 2006, when they opened their flagship property in Louisville, Ky. Over a decade later, the company has 11 properties that are either open or under development. In addition to its flagship, it has hotels in Bentonville, Ark.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Durham, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville; and Oklahoma City; with three more in development in Des Moines, Iowa; Miami; and Chicago.
While every property is unique and distinct, each one features under the same roof a contemporary art museum, a boutique hotel and a chef-driven restaurant. Because of those assets, 21c Museum Hotels will join AccorHotels as part of the company's MGallery brand — a collection of boutique hotels that retain their independence while also receiving sales, marketing and distribution support from AccorHotels.
The eight 21c Museum Hotels currently open in the United States will be MGallery's first hotels in North America.
"21c Museum Hotels is proud to announce our entry into the AccorHotels family," Wilson said. "AccorHotels is one of the world's leading hotel operators and will be a perfect partner and catalyst for 21c's continued growth. We are confident that the unique spirit of 21c will not only be preserved, but will flourish within the MGallery collection of boutique hotels. 21c will continue to bring the work of today's most dynamic and engaging contemporary artists to the public, and this partnership will be a tremendous boost for 21c's continued development in North America and abroad. We are extremely excited to see what the future holds."
Added Kevin Frid, AccorHotels' chief operating officer for North and Central America: "We are delighted to welcome 21c Museum Hotels as part of the AccorHotels family of brands, hence strengthening the group's footprint in North America in a very unique and promising niche. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to grow the 21c brand, as well as introduce MGallery into the North American market, building both brand equities and further expanding the full range of unparalleled experiences for our guests. This strategic acquisition marks a new step in AccorHotels' strategy of being the leading player in the luxury and lifestyle segment in North America."
Four More 'Museum Hotels'
21c Museum Hotels is known for being a nexus of art and hospitality. But its hotels aren't the only venues where groups can marry "events" with "exhibits." Here are four more meetings-friendly properties with museum-quality collections:
• The Jefferson Hotel: Built as an apartment building in 1923, The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC, has been operating as a hotel since 1955 and underwent a two-year restoration and renovation in 2009. Along with 99 guest rooms, approximately 2,500 square feet of meeting space, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a spa, the hotel boasts a sizeable collection of antiques, historic artwork and original, signed documents, including lithographs of Charles Bird King's Native American portraits that were burned in a fire at the Smithsonian, 18th century maps tracing Thomas Jefferson's wine journeys through France and more.
• Hilton Anatole: At the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, everything is big, including the guest rooms, of which there are 1,606; the meeting space, which totals over 600,000 square feet; restaurants and bars, of which there are nine; and health and wellness, facilities for which total 80,000 square feet. Biggest of all, however, is the hotel's art collection, which is among the largest hotel art collections in the country. All told, there are more than 1,000 pieces in the collection, highlights from which include two sections from the Berlin Wall and "Nebula," a massive kinetic sculpture that was specially designed by Reuben Margolin, whose work hangs 50 feet above the hotel lobby.
• The Stockyards Hotel: Another Texas hotel that's full of treasures is The Stockyards Hotel in the historic Stockyards District of Fort Worth, Texas. Established in 1907, the hotel has four indoor and outdoor meeting rooms and 52 guest rooms and suites — including the room where criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde stayed during their 1933 stay in Fort Worth. Known as the Bonnie and Clyde Junior Suite, the room now features a king size bed and a variety of historic artifacts, including Bonnie's .38 revolver, photographs, newspaper clippings and a poem written by Bonnie for Clyde.
• Windsor Court Hotel: U.S. hotels don't only collect U.S. art and artifacts. Many also have impressive collections of international items. The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans is one of those hotels. Because it's located just steps from the French Quarter, one might assume its collection is French or Spanish in nature. But in fact, it's British. Specifically, the hotel's $8 million art collection is dedicated mostly to works that depict England's Windsor Castle and the British royal family's life there. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, tapestries and furnishings dating from the 17th to the late 20th centuries. The property — which is currently undergoing a $15 million renovation — also has 316 guest rooms and suites, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, several bars and restaurants, a spa, a fitness center and a rooftop pool.