American Marketer

Events / Causes

Luxury Collection taps Helena Christensen to explore Peru

February 3, 2014


Starwood Hotels and Resorts' The Luxury Collection enlisted photographer and former supermodel Helena Christensen as its newest global ambassador to portray the exploratory nature of the hospitality brand.

For her first project, Ms. Christensen traveled to Peru to photograph the spirit of the place, and her work is on display at the Bleecker Street Arts Club in New York through Feb. 17. The Luxury Collection's three Peruvian properties may receive a spike in traffic after affluent travelers view the pieces.

"Helena Christensen is a high-profile influencer with a large following and audience online," said Christine Kirk, CEO of Social Muse Communications, Los Angeles.

"As one of the original supermodels, her fans looks to her for inspiration on fashion, beauty and travel," she said. "Being one of the most famous models in the world, Helena has traveled all over the globe, making her an excellent travel recourse and source of inspiration.

"Peru is an up-and-coming travel destination for 2014, and Helena's photography of the destination will likely inspire global travelers to book their stays at the Luxury Collection's properties in Peru."

Ms. Kirk is not affiliated with the Luxury Collection, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

The Luxury Collection was unable to respond by press deadline.

Cultural immersion

Through this position, Ms. Christensen joins photographer Andrea Fazzari, mixologist and beverage connoisseur Greg Seider and actor, designer and philanthropist Waris Ahluwalia as global ambassadors.

The Global Explorer program sends ambassadors to locations where Luxury Collection has properties to photograph, film or recant their experience and, presumably, to stimulate tourism.

The brand's three Peruvian properties include Hotel Paracas in Paracas, Palacio del Inka in Cusco and Tambo del Inka in Urubamba.

Ms. Christensen used her preferred medium, photography, to capture Peru.

Untitled (4 llamas), $2,000

The former model's take on the country can be viewed at the Bleecker Street Arts Club, where the artwork will be auctioned off.

Untitled (Woman's Face), $1,600

Price points for the pieces range from $200 to $3,000.

Untitled (Magenta Skirt), $200

The photos are an assortment of black-and-white and color and try to illuminate rural life. Subjects include animals, children, laborers, landscapes and Luxury Collection properties.

Untitled (4 Children), $3,000

The tones in the collection range from quiet harmony to sprightliness to detached wonder.

Untitled (Mountain at Dusk), $300

Those interested in the pieces can also bid online and view the rest of the collection here.

Ms. Christensen will continue to photograph destinations for the brand in the future.

"It’s a perfect marriage," said Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights, Miami, FL. "Coupling supermodel Helena Christensen’s photographic expertise and a country that is not well known.

"The affluent can go anywhere they want," he said. "It’s incumbent upon brands to create awareness and desire. This goes for countries too. Every luxury brand needs strategies to become part of the conversation. No conversation means no new revenue.

"The affluent are explorers searching new lands. Any positive exposure to Peru will drive tourist dollars.

"The exposure and positive imaging will create awareness and interest to visit Peru. "

An urge to explore

The Luxury Collection's propensity for exploration seeps into many of their campaigns.

For instance, The Luxury Collection and vintage home decor brand One Kings Lane switched coasts to tour Vermont, Boston and New York and uncover sales freighted with cultural significance.

Flash sales corresponding to each location on the East coast road trip were triggered throughout November for fans to access on One Kings Lane’s Web site. The Luxury Collection stoked the anticipation generated by its West coast road trip by recruiting two celebrated bloggers to chart the trip’s course in advance (see story).

Also, the hotel chain is leveraging the knowledge of its global concierge team with a new storytelling initiative that explores remote and culturally-rich information about certain regions.

The “Certified Indigenous” series provides the concierge team with an opportunity to share travel secrets and impart advice on essential places to visit. Showcasing the expertise of a concierge team on social media will allow hotel brands to infuse everyday promotional efforts with the gravity of a property’s heritage (see story).

"Having Helena Christensen as the brand's Global Explorer has the potential to raise awareness to these resorts and their programs," said Damon M. Banks, director of DMB Public Relations, New York.

"More than just a successful model, [Ms.] Christensen has proven herself as a very talented photographer and creative director, which gives her the ability to reach an even broader demographic," he said.

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York