Timeless: A great example of a timeless art collection can be found at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. For this project, we were tasked with creating an art collection over 10 years ago, and to this day, you would never guess that — the collection looks phenomenal and captures your attention the moment you step into the lobby.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry Eaton of Eaton Fine Art.

As the President and Chief Curator of Eaton Fine Art (EFA), Terry Eaton has curated engaging and memorable art collections for hotels around the world for over 32 years. Since its founding in 1992, this Austin, Texas-based full-service art consultancy firm has collaborated on art collections with renowned hoteliers, design firms, and procurement companies as well as high-profile hotel brands and developers, including Marriott International, Related Companies, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, MGM Resorts, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and Host Hotels & Resorts. Terry is also a prominent member of the LGBTQIA+ community and EFA has been granted a Minority Business Enterprise certification by the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My career came full circle. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a passion for art and creativity. When I was a teenager, I sold my art at the Starving Artist Fair at the San Antonio Riverwalk, and I had my own business cards as a freelance artist. Fast forward to 1992, Eaton Fine Art was founded — I had done a good amount of research and realized that there was a void in a creative way of looking at art for hotels, so Eaton Fine Art was born. Now, instead of selling my art, we curate art collections from other artists across the globe.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There have been a couple, but I would say that one of the most interesting stories would be when I was working on a project in Panama. I met with a tribe deep in the rainforest known for their amazing basket-making. However, when it was time to meet my guide at the riverbank, what awaited us was not a regular boat, but rather a hollowed-out log to travel up the river. It was pretty wild! As we floated along, surrounded by the beauty of the rainforest, our guide reminded us to keep our arms inside because there were alligators in the water. It was an unexpected adventure that served as a reminder of the extraordinary things we do to connect with different cultures and create an exceptional art collection.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started, Eaton Fine Art was commissioned to curate an art collection for a hotel in downtown Denver. At the time, one of our collaborators — the owner of the firm spearheading the interior design of the hotel — raised concerns. He thought a completed 8-foot by 10-foot painting did not represent the hotel’s interior narrative. The next day, I traveled from San Francisco to Denver and met with the owner of the firm along with the hotel’s general manager to discuss the matter. I listened to their concerns and explained the artist’s intent for the painting and how it complemented the hotel’s overarching design. The general manager understood the creative choices and loved it! The firm owner came around and agreed, as well, with the artist making a few minor adjustments. All were thrilled with the final commissioned painting.

From that instance and moving forward, I’ve learned that it’s important to listen to any grievances that arise from your clients and then understand how to resolve them. It’s important to come up with a solution quickly and work with your collaborators to ensure it gets fixed.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m immensely grateful for the support and influence of my father on my journey to where I am today. He was an eternal optimist. When I was just 16, he looked at me and said, “You won’t stay in San Antonio. You’re meant for bigger and better things.” It was his unique way of expressing that he saw potential and adventure in my future. My father’s sense of adventure and love for travel became a part of who I am. As I navigated through life, his words served as a guiding light, pushing me to pursue opportunities beyond my comfort zone. However, the gratitude extends beyond my father. It also encompasses my husband, team members, and the wonderful friends and clients I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with. Their collective support, encouragement, and shared experiences have played a crucial role in shaping my path to success.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Eaton Fine Art distinguishes itself through a unique approach, forging meaningful collaborations with clients to craft captivating and enduring art collections. From featuring renowned pieces at Limelight Hotel Aspen to impressive installations at Indianapolis Hyatt House-Hyatt Place and curating art collections for over 3,000 rooms in the Las Vegas market, we collaborate to redefine the visual experience in hospitality, offering sophistication and cultural richness.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Instead of following yearly color trends and the ever-changing landscape of industry fads, our innovation disrupts the status quo by consciously avoiding trendiness. This approach seeks to create art collections with enduring value and creating a timeless aesthetic.

As you know, COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Over the next five years, we anticipate a sustained focus on art that reflects local culture. As many travelers seek authentic travel experiences, we will continue to collaborate with local artists and curate collections that truly capture the essence of each destination.

We also anticipate that technology will begin to play a pivotal role with virtual and augmented reality enhancing art experiences in hotels and resorts. We may begin seeing an increase in digital installations that seamlessly blend the physical and virtual realms.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I have two perfect vacation experiences — one filled with serenity and the other focused on exploration. My first ideal escape is immersing myself in the tranquil beauty of Cherry Creek near Aspen. This spot stands out as the most serene and beautiful location I’ve encountered in the last 20 years. Surrounded by lush trees and the calming sound of running water, Cherry Creek offers a total escape where I don’t have to think about anything except embracing the natural beauty.

The other perfect vacation involves a more dynamic and cultural experience. I love to bounce from gallery to gallery, exploring the rich art scenes and intricate Gothic churches throughout places like Europe, South America, or Vietnam.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness-driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

For us, we leverage art to complete wellness-focused spaces to promote pieces that enhance relaxation and mental well-being. For example in hotel spas, we have carefully selected art that contributes to a sense of calm and serenity. This commitment extends to our guest rooms as well, where we work to integrate art that embodies a restful vibe to enhance relaxation and contribute positively to mental well-being.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more?

Localized: At Hyatt Place Tampa Downtown & Hyatt House Tampa Downtown, our team curated an art collection that marries a bohemian vibe with Tampa’s culture and lush tropical climate. For this project, we collaborated with local artists to customize an art collection that captures the history, theme, and color palette of Tampa Bay.

Authentic: The art collection at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas creates an authentic experience by thoughtfully weaving together a narrative that pays homage to the property’s architecture, history, and its Texan surroundings. In the lobby, guests are welcomed by sophisticated abstract paintings and sepia-toned photography that evoke tranquility, inviting them into a restful escape. The curated art collection embodies casual luxury and a strong sense of place.

Fits a Narrative: The art collection at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton, seamlessly fits the narrative by embodying the forward-thinking brand ideology and creating an atypical art experience for guests. Here, our team curated a collection with a youthful energy that aligns with Virgin Hotels’ innovative approach while also establishing a strong connection to the surrounding environment. In the spa and guest rooms, the incorporation of desert-inspired elements not only harmonizes with the local surroundings but also provides guests with a unique and serene respite from the bustling city life. Additionally, the playful neon signage above the beds in each suite not only aligns with Virgin Hotels’ branding but also adds a touch of fun and humor, paying creative homage to The Strip’s bright lights and the lively nightlife scene of the city.

Thought-Provoking: At Limelight Hotel Aspen, our team collaborated closely with ownership in the curation of a thought-provoking, museum-like art collection to engage guests and locals alike. For the guest rooms, EFA collaborated with several women artists throughout Colorado and even one from Europe to curate pieces that highlight the natural beauty of the Aspen landscape and the simplicity of nature found throughout the region. In the public spaces, the art collection transitions away from a locally inspired experience to a more expansive perspective setting the stage for prominent artists to express their unique voices.

Timeless: A great example of a timeless art collection can be found at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. For this project, we were tasked with creating an art collection over 10 years ago, and to this day, you would never guess that — the collection looks phenomenal and captures your attention the moment you step into the lobby.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Because of our passion and success in what we do professionally, we can give back to so many different communities. Some of these include NEWH, an association dedicated to educational, mentorship and networking opportunities for women professionals in the hospitality industry; AIDS Services of Austin, a non-profit AIDS service organization that addresses HIV and AIDS in Central Texas; Jack Sansing Dental Clinic, a clinic providing dental care to individuals with HIV/AIDs; and ASA Medical Clinic, Austin, a one-stop HIV center. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to bring smiles and spark curiosity through the art installations we create.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement focused on continuing to assist and bolster all marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and people of color. The overarching goal would be to eliminate racism, misunderstanding, and hatred, fostering a more inclusive and supportive society. By addressing the needs of various marginalized communities, the movement would strive to create a world where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered.

How can our readers follow you on social media?



This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.