Mantra Hotels has opened a new boutique hotel in Box Hill, a suburb that is rapidly transforming into one of the biggest centres outside the Melbourne CBD.
The Chen Art Series Hotel is inspired by acclaimed local artist Zhong Chen and features a number of his original works and prints.
It features 100 rooms across five storeys in the $330 million Whitehorse Towers in Box Hill, 14 kilometres east of the Melbourne CBD. The Whitehorse Towers is the largest development in Victoria outside of the Melbourne CBD.
“It’s a pretty special building and it will be iconic in this region. This will be a bit of a transformation for this area, which is already prospering,” Mantra Group chief Bob East told Commercial Real Estate.
The Chen is the first Art Series Hotel to open since it was acquired by The Mantra Group earlier this year for $52.5 million.
The art-inspired complex was designed by architecture firm Peddle Thorp and features muted grey tones with flashes of pastel pinks and blues, along with Chen’s vibrant digital archive fine art editions.
“Art is a unifying force and if you combine that with hospitality you very quickly can build something special. The artwork gives the hotel a certain vibrancy,” Mr East said.
The Chen boasts a rooftop pool and deck area with a view of the CBD, along with a gym, events centre and a number of restaurants within the Whitehorse Towers. It also comes with the same features as other Art Series Hotels, including branded smart cars and bikes, art tours and tailored art documentaries.
Mr East said the hotel would cater to the busy surrounding area that featured shops, universities and hospitals, while it would also be a magnet for leisure customers.
“It’ll work really well. This area has got enough demand drivers and the hotel is unique enough that it’ll trade really well and be a popular hotel,” he said.
The Chen is the eighth Art Series Hotel in Australia, with all of them named after and inspired by a local artist.
Mr East said that Chen’s artwork was perfect for the hotel in Box Hill.
“It’s a brilliant choice of artist. When they get selected it’s not without a lot of thought – there’s an entire process we go through to make sure it will resonate with customers and in the local area,” he said.
“It’s about what personality we attach to these things – hotels have personality.”
Chen said he has lived in the Box Hill area for nearly a decade and was proud to provide the inspiration for the hotel.
“I am really proud of this community and its emergence as a powerful fringe suburb of Melbourne,” he said.
“To have an Art Series Hotel open in my name is truly an honour. I love the hotel’s location…and I am looking forward to seeing guests engage with the hotel and my art.”
Chen has been a three-time finalist in the Archibald Prize, and has been awarded the People’s Choice Award for the Portrait Salon Des Refuses Prize. He was first exposed to art through calligraphy in his home country of China, before taking on influences from Australia, Germany, the US and the UK. His art “marries Western expressions with Chinese traditions”, and the new hotel aims to reflect this.
The Art Series Hotel Group was launched by The Deague Group in 2009 and the sale to Mantra Group this year included management and leasehold rights, but the hotels will continue to operate under the Art Series brand.
“The Art Series Group has a way of doing things that we’ve long-regarded as being exceptional,” Mr East said.
“Being a new custodian of that brand, our new job is to make sure that we maintain all the great things we do about it and continue to evolve that brand as they were evolving it so we can grow some amazing art series projects throughout Australia.”
The Mantra Group has also announced a new Art Series Hotel in Sydney, with the artist yet to be selected.
“Everyone is trying to get a Sydney hotel, it’s the toughest market in Australia to get into,” Mr East said.
“That’ll be beautiful and absolutely in keeping with the boutique nature of the series and the positioning of the brand.”
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