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A sense of discovery.

Every time you turn a corner at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., you come across a piece of art that intrigues you in some way - whether it's a display of feather masks, a bold abstract painting or a pair of hand-carved dragons. You never know what you're going to see next, but you have an inkling it won't be just another tired landscape.

But this diverse collection is no hodgepodge. In fact, it's been carefully designed to appeal to as many of the hotel guests as possible, including children. For Bernice Rhodes, who developed the collection for the Hyatt, that meant instilling a sense of whimsy and fun, like placing a venerable antique carousel horse in the lobby (the hotel site was once an Arabian horse farm), where it serves as a central rendezvous point for guests. And then there's the Indonesian elephant puppet near the main staircase, not to mention the pre-Columbian masks at the registration desk and two carved wooden deer on the stair landings.

Another goal in creating the collection was "to subtly emphasize the beauty of the location without making this solely a Southwestern art collection. The collection has strong contemporary and ethnographic streaks, and many of the pieces use typical Southwestern colors," Rhodes says. For example, the painting "Cherokee Secrets," by Rita Dibert, which the hotel commissioned, is an abstract work, but its luminous colors and textures are reminiscent of the surrounding landscape, thanks to the artist's extensive research on the geography of the Southwest.

The hotel conducts a tour for guests every Friday morning, and outside groups can also view the collection by special arrangement. Three part-time docents, all of whom have extensive art-history background, lead the tours and answer any questions about the art. Since many of the older pieces, especially the artifacts, haven't been extensively documented, the docents try to research them whenever possible.

Sometimes the guests get a little carried away with the art, in a manner of speaking. A few years ago, someone stole the soapstone bear residing at the hotel's main reception desk. That was an especially cruel blow, says Ann Lane, regional director of advertising and public relations, because the bear was a gift from the owners of the adjacent Gainey Ranch development, who once owned the hotel's land.

But all was not lost. A month later, thanks to an anonymous tip, the hotel recovered the bear. He's still living out his days at the front desk, but he's definitely much more firmly attached to home, Lane laughs, adding, "If anyone tried to steal it now, they'd have a mighty hard time."

Unfortunately, the Hyatt wasn't so lucky with a small sculpture of a dog, which disappeared from the swimming-pool area. The hotel never recovered the piece, so now the staff has been trained to be especially alert for suspicious people and to keep a close watch late at night.

The occasional theft aside, the collection has had a rejuvenating effect on both guests and employees. "The guests love the extra dimension art adds to their hotel experience, and they're always amazed at the caliber of the collection," reports Lane. "And even our sales representatives and managers go on the occasionally. It gives them a new appreciation of hotel."
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Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Corporate Gallery: The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Collection
Author:Ferling, Rhona L.
Publication:Financial Executive
Date:Nov 1, 1995
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