Commander Hotel & Suites Beckons Guests Inside with Local Art
Wednesday September 6th, 2017
OCEAN CITY, MD—At first glance, travelers to the “OC” might think about outdoor pursuits—sun, sand and surf—but the Commander Hotel & Suites is using art to beckon guests inside. On display in newly renovated common areas, the family-owned oceanfront hotel has introduced a wide array of works by local artists to enhance the guest experience and provide a window into the history of the community.
The art display was an expansion of the hotel’s original plan to feature a piece in the updated lobby from Plak That, a local production house that creates photo prints on wood and metal. Upon seeing the finished piece, the hotel owners were inspired to obtain creations from additional local artists for display in the lobby as well as the interior and exterior common areas.
“We recently completed a $5-million renovation, and we felt it was crucial to establish a visual and experiential link for our guests to Ocean City’s spirit and the proud lineage of the Commander Hotel & Suites, which has been family owned since 1930,” said GM Michael Hayes. “We selected a variety of area artists who work in different mediums to help us achieve this, and judging from the enthusiastic responses from our guests, these creative enhancements to our hotel are huge hits.”
This particular project was a true collaboration between the artists, hotel staff and designer Karin Ann Hansen.
“Suzanne Jackson, our assistant GM, brought some of the artists in after our renovations in 2016 to get a feel for the environment that we were trying to achieve,” said Carissa Scaniffe, guest relations, marketing and sales manager, Commander Hotel & Suites. “Michael Hayes, our GM, had previously worked with Erick Sahler [a serigraph artist] while he was at the Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites, which is our sister property. He loved Erick’s work because it had a nostalgic look to it that he thought would be perfect for The Commander.”
The team at the Commander Hotel & Suites sought out Hansen’s expertise to assist with furniture, art, paint colors and lighting selections, as well as space planning for the newly expanded and redesigned lobby.
“The previous year, they reached out to me to assist with selections for the reconstruction of the hotel as they were feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. I selected and designed the hallway carpet, which needed to flow with the room carpet that had already been selected. The hallway carpet was designed and made exclusively for the Commander Hotel & Suites,” said Hansen. “In addition, Donaway Furniture and Flooring installed all of the new hallway carpet and luxury vinyl tile. When the hotel staff made selections for items needed such as bed skirts, accent pillows, ice buckets, etc., they consulted with me for a designer’s eye. I selected the paint colors for the hallways, rooms and doors. The outdoor balcony furniture also came from Donaway Furniture. So when they began thinking about how the new lobby should look, GM Michael Hayes figured I was the perfect person to assist.”
Incorporating local artwork helped to create an old town feel at the property, uplifting the design and colors of the interior spaces for a distinct flow throughout the entire hotel, noted Hansen.
“We needed something spectacular behind the registry desk. My mind immediately went to Jeffrey Auxer, a local blown glass designer in Berlin, MD. We met as a team to discuss the design, size and shape of the custom created piece and I chose the colors. Michael Hayes is a fan of the local artist, Erick Sahler, who is a serigraph artist, which is silkscreen art prints,” she said. “We looked through the website together to determine which artwork was representative of Ocean City, MD, as well as what captured the colors of the hotel. I gave Michael the size of the prints needed for the space chosen by the elevators so he could order them directly from Erick. I installed most of the artwork in the lobby myself. We were limited on the amount of walls available to display art, so we were selective. Original artwork from the hotel was also incorporated to connect the present with the past.”
In working with her client, Hansen’s goal was to determine the property’s vision and needs, and then assist with making it a reality.
“Each project I am involved with looks different than the last. I want each one to uniquely shine and reflect the owners’ personality,” she said. “I met with GM Michael Hayes and his staff on multiple occasions to ensure all of the pieces worked together and were functional as well as beautiful.”