Hovering above Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa in a helicopter—camera in hand and hundreds of inflatable inner tubes below—photographer Gray Malin officially kicked off his collaboration with Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts. Dubbed Follow Me: A 24-Hour Visual Journey Through the Lens of Gray Malin, this global partnership gives guests an exclusive look at one artist’s creative process, as he goes to great lengths (and heights!) to capture his signature images in exotic locations around the world.
The Poolside, Mediterranean series, on display in the Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa’s Hub portrays brightly-colored inner tubes floating in a pool of glistening blue water; and in some prints, a single person with a cocktail or book in hand who you can’t help but wish was you in that very moment. To ensure every detail of his vision was carried out accordingly, Malin even went so far as to personally design the inner tubes and have them manufactured and flown to Spain for the shoot. But not everything can be planned; the book the woman is holding in Out of Office was actually found in Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel’s Hub library. The result is an image that appears to indeed be “made in heaven.”
When guests step foot inside Le Méridien Hub lobbies across the world, they will be welcomed into Malin's visual adventures through behind-the-scenes footage gathered from his work in diverse locations such as Bhutan, Cape Town, Antarctica, and El Vendrell, Spain where his Poolside, Mediterranean series was shot. Inspired by the spontaneity of travel, Malin strives to create images that make people feel like “every day can be a getaway.”
To fully understand the impact of this partnership, one must be familiar with Le Méridien’s philosophy on hospitality. With feet firmly planted in the art world and fingers perpetually on its pulse, the luxury hotel brand prides itself on educating and immersing guests in their chosen destination through uniquely-curated cultural experiences. One way is via their Unlock Art™ program which grants complimentary access to world-renowned museums and exhibition spaces such as The Palais de Tokyo in Japan, The Deichtorhallen Hamburg in Germany, and The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in Spain; another way is through Le Méridien’s Video Art Programme. That’s where Malin comes in.
What Le Méridien and Malin perhaps see eye-to-eye on the most, is not just art as a finished product, but the importance and respect for the experience in arriving at it—from conception of an idea to the execution and delivery of the final piece. They are also concerned with the many challenges that must be surmounted along the way. While Malin's prints may appear simplistic and effortless, any photographer can tell you the process to get the ‘perfect’ shot can be anything but. Sharing that experience and allowing guests to deepen their connection to Malin's images is what Follow Me is all about.
In addition to the video footage on loop in Hub lobbies, the collaboration also includes Le Méridien by Gray Malin merchandise (to be made available in late 2015), and special key cards featuring the photographer’s own playful prints. And that key card does more for guests than grant access to their hotel rooms. It is also their free ticket into venues within the Unlock Art™ program, making a more comprehensive cultural exploration that much more accessible in any given city.
While there are certainly many hotel brands that buy, support and display art, there’s only one that truly “unlocks art.” This recent partnership between Le Méridien and photographer Gray Malin continues to prove the brand’s loyalty to art, as well as a dedication to creating a uniquely memorable stay by making it the star of the show. “Working with Le Méridien is more than just working with a brand,” Malin explains. “It’s working with a 360-degree approach to an experience. That to me is what’s so cool about Follow Me.”