Interview With Emerging Hotelier Bashar Wali of Provenance Hotels

Photography, glasswork and classic cinema are given their due in Provenance Hotels' burgeoning boutique luxury hotel portfolio. Hotel Lucia houses a large private collection of photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly.

In Seattle’s Hotel Max, the work of many different local photographers is exhibited, while Hotel Murano in Tacoma houses a gallery-caliber collection of glassworks from 45 different glass artists. As Provenance is Portland-based, all this could be interpreted as a gesture of support to the thriving Pacific Northwest artist community—but it’s more than that. It’s part of the brand aesthetic.

One might think that company president Bashar Wali came from an arts background, so consistent is Provenance Hotels’ focus on visual arts. In fact, Wali’s lifelong passion is hotel acquisition and development, but what makes this former Grand Heritage VP appropriate for our Emerging Hoteliers series is his willingness to leave a traditional luxury hotel brand and dive head-first into the creation of an artsy one.

JustLuxe: How did you decide that art would be a primary aesthetic theme across multiple properties in the brand? Was it a personal decision, or a strategy based on psychographic research, or a marketing strategy to differentiate the brand from other boutique properties?

Bashar Wali: The integration of carefully-curated art collections into the Provenance Hotels brand was both a deeply personal decision and a well-considered strategic gambit. Personally, art is a passion for our company. We believe great works of art elevate the human experience and, as hoteliers, we instinctively knew art had the potential to move our customers and help drive their travel decisions. Of course, it differentiates us from our competitors but it’s more than a gimmick. We strive to integrate the art in our hotels in an authentic way that informs and enhances the guest experience.

Lena Katz

Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)

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