How a hotel brand built its values inspired by art and history
Get to know the story behind the charming Ecuadorian Art Hotels
When we first arrive at Hotel Mama Cuchara in Quito, Ecuador, we are astonished by the imposing white façade of the historical building. It was here that, in 1875, a group of liberal conspirators planned the assassination of President Gabriel García Moreno. Inside the hotel, private and public areas display works by well-known and local Ecuadorian artists. Every detail there was meticulously designed to immerse visitors in the most authentic culture and history.
Hotel Mama Cuchara is one of the three properties owned by Art Hotels, a fresh and charming family-owned company in Ecuador that is emerging as a group of exclusive boutique hotels with a unique accommodation style: luxury lodgings inspired by people, collaboration, art and history that support local communities and connect travelers with the country’s cultural essence.
The founder’s background as an avid art collector was the trigger to establish the brand’s values and turn it into a passion project. According to Siroun Majarian, experience manager at Art Hotels, who spoke with us during the second edition of REMOTE Virtual Experience, the company’s purpose is to establish a connection with the communities where the hotels are based and to value the roots, history and culture of each region.
Mama Cuchara was the first hotel to open its doors, in 2017, after careful restorations. It was followed by Hotel Otavalo, in the city of Otavalo, and Hotel Cruz del Vado, in Cuenca. Art Hotels is now preparing to launch its fourth venture in Guayaquil. “Our idea is to sell a circuit within Ecuador. If our guests want to visit the whole country, then we can offer them boutique luxury accommodations all around Ecuador,” explained Siroun Majarian.
All hotels are based in historic buildings that have been renovated but have kept their original architecture. They also tell many stories, like the traditional Hotel Otavalo, which has been welcoming guests since 1955 and was once the headquarters of radio “La Voz de Los Lagos,” or Hotel Cruz del Vado, the former home of Cuenca’s first newspaper, “El Mercurio.” Art Hotels makes sure to keep these stories alive.
In order to introduce travelers to the local culture, Art Hotels goes further than just using works of art as decoration. The hotels hold a private art collection, which includes pieces from famous painters and sculptors, such as Oswaldo Guayasamín and Eduardo Kingman, and rotating exhibits of works by local artists, like Franklin Mora’s hyper-realistic works in pencil inspired by the people of Otavalo or Marco Machado’s pieces of woven copper.
The sense of culture is also part of the activities offered by Art Hotels and, with these experiences, guests can interact with the local community and their artisans. Each hotel has developed a program of activities that takes travelers to visit places and people that are part of the region’s history, traditions and culture. These are unique opportunities to truly take a deep dive into the rich culture of Ecuador.