Banff Jasper Collection

As the day nears when the re-imagined Mount Royal Hotel opens its doors in the heart of Banff, the momentum is mounting. And while the bulk of the engineering and structural renovations are nearing completion, the art and décor teams are getting ramped up. They've got a big task.

The Mount Royal team enlisted the renowned art consultancy firm Farmboy Fine Arts to bring outstanding art to the hotel. After all, the ultimate goal is for guests to experience this incredible place in a deep and meaningful way.

The hotel's heritage is already well-defined; it has what designers call a “rich narrative” that includes more than 100 years of history and many layers to its architecture. The design for the new building features so many elements that celebrate this story, from exterior frames to carpet choices. Artwork, then, becomes another layer. And for this hotel, it's a significant one. From very early in the project, the hotel team and the design firm Dialog have put a high emphasis on art.

"It was extremely important to everyone that the art in the Mount Royal Hotel reflect the narrative of the hotel," says Farmboy's Jamshed Colah, who is leading the project. "It's really exciting to work on a project like this because art is so often the last thing on the list. Here, we were able to have these conversations at an early stage. That doesn't happen very often."

Artwork showing two elk heads emerging from a lake landscape.

Artwork by Arian Camilleri x Farmboy Fine Arts Inc.

Artwork showing two bears around conifer trees above a valley.

Artwork by Arian Camilleri x Farmboy Fine Arts Inc.

Colah and the Farmboy team are sourcing, producing and curating as many as 200 pieces.

“There's a lot more to the process than just 'going shopping'”, he says. “Some elements are selected through carefully curated relationships with artists and artisans around the world. Others are produced in-house at our Vancouver studios.”

The Mount Royal Hotel project also includes a lot of archival pieces that involve working with the Whyte Museum and coming up with creative new ways to display older pieces.

"This is about telling a story, but it's also enhancing and enriching an experience," Colah says. "Art is a way to challenge the notions of the place you're in and of the property itself. It can really elevate things. With this property, art will elevate the story but also challenge people on what they think of Banff and of Canada." 

“Guests today want a deeper experience from a hotel,” McNeil says. And that means a “whole collection of little details that all fit together.”

Nothing like it in Banff

Working with a hotel property that has such a solid sense of its place, and of its past, helps. The history of the Mount Royal remains evident, and of course it parallels so closely the history of Banff itself. And Banff is such an iconic place – perhaps the epitome of Canadiana.

Alison McNeil from the design firm Dialog echoes the desire to fill the hotel with a rich personality that's true-to-place.

"There has to be more to Banff design than Rundlestone and exposed beams," she says. "We are after a more curated, eclectic feel. It looks like someone's house, not an airport hotel."

Working together with some of the top firms in the world—who happen to be Canadian—makes it more special and authentic.

Abstract artwork of triangles and lines from deadwood forms.

Artwork by Steven Errico x Farmboy Fine Arts Inc.

Artwork showing a mountain landscape.

Artwork by John Lee x Farmboy Fine Arts Inc.

Much of Farmboy’s work can be found in hotel and healthcare environments all over the world, from the Middle East and Africa to the Americas, however, "we are a Canadian company and we like to work on Canadian projects," Colah says.

Expect to be wowed

Guests can expect an eclectic collection of highly-researched and carefully-chosen art that speaks to the region of Banff. Sculpture, posters, canvases, historic images, framed art, wall coverings – there will certainly be a variety!  It'll all be heavily influenced by the natural environment of the Canadian Rockies, of course. But as Colah says, it will also be contemporary and modern.

A woman ties her boot laces on a bed in a sunny hotel room.

Photo: Guest rooms feature quilts produced by renowned design firm Moss & Lam, Inc.

"It's great to see a property in Canada take such a huge interest in interior art design," he says. "We don't see that very often."

Installation will take place this June, when wall coverings are hung, art installed and sculptures placed. The big reveal, when the hotel opens on July 1, is going to be exciting.

Stay tuned as we share more stories about the Mount Royal Hotel.

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