“Hoteliers are not only trying to come up with a theme or a style that attracts customers, but they are approaching it in a much more professional and involved way,” said Sean Hennessey, chief executive of Lodging Investment Advisors, a consulting firm in Valhalla, N.Y.
“It used to be that you could get away with just slapping something up in the lobby,” he added, “but more and more customers are looking and evaluating it much more closely.”
For the James, meeting that demand has meant trying to reflect the artistic microclimate of SoHo. Though many of the artists who once made the area a creative mecca have fled, an emerging art scene is still represented through nonprofit institutions there that support artists and show their work.
Denihan Hospitality Group, which is developing the hotel, operates another James Hotel in Chicago that is also dedicated to emerging art. At the Surrey, one of its New York hotels, work by established names like Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg and William Kentridge nods to its location on East 76th Street, near major art showcases like the Whitney Museum of American Art.