Chris Hemmeter Jr is a an art curator and hotel developer. In 1988, Chris was given $5 million to go and collect art, with the aim of building a public art exhibit for a hotel . Chris, the son of a wealthy developer, was given this money to go forth and collect visual art in the form of photography, paintings, sculptures, all with the aim of filling the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. To fulfill this goal, Hemmeter travelled all over the world, making stops in China, Japan, Indonesia, Burma and other areas in the Southeast and pacific. Chris spent the year collecting this art and shipping them in barges to Hawaii. Hemmeter is part of a changing hospitality development culture, which seeks to look beyond what we know to be the luxury hotel experience, providing clients with an added value steeped in culture and art.

Hemmeter’s vision was to create and offer art to public, taking it away from the dividing culture of exclusivity, a common space where art usually finds itself. One of the best parts of this exhibits is it costs the public nothing to view the art.  An artist at the hotel named Ray, commented on the artwork, “ A lot of tourists from different hotels will come and walk around looking at the art.” She continued “ it’s a free cultural experience.”

The result of this collection of art, is the Hilton Waikoloa Village, a hotel unlike any other. Today, the hotel is filled with over 1800 pieces of art, valued at nearly $18 million.

Marcia Ray, the hotel’s art curator said “ I think the collection we have is very, very unusual and valuable, you won’t see this anywhere on the Hawaiian islands.”

In this article, the New York Times examines how the Hilton Waikoloa Village recently introduced a children’s turndown sleep service. The service offers a cultural dimension , where parents can read stories of Pele who is the goddess of the volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian islands. The story service offers flashcards, paintings and other visual collateral as complementary features of the service.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel is one hotel making innovative strides to include culture and art into the hotel branding experience. Despite this innovative strategy which is a combination of consumer branding and art engagement, the Waikoloa Village Hotel is not the only giant in the hospitality space making these strides. The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans offers an $8 million collection of original works of British artists. The Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas also features a range of Berlin Wall art projects painted by Jurgen Grosse.


With more hotel development aligned with art and culture, we can expect to see more hotels with a strong cultural experience in the future.

To learn more about Hotels developing as art galleries, visit this article by The Street