Art prices are sagging and South Florida is reeling from a collapsed real estate market, but art dealers and collectors arriving at
, which takes place Dec. 4-7, will discover a refreshed city of flashy new hotels and restaurants.
Art Basel is one of the chicest events in the art world. It includes work from more than 200 international galleries selected from across the globe. Visitors are a mix of billionaires looking to scout out the next Francis Bacon, and local party girls looking to score a free Red Bull and vodka. At the center of it all is the Miami Beach Convention Center, but the art action stretches across the city at pop gallery installations, site-specific performances and public art displays strewn across local beaches and industrial sites.
Art Basel gallery exhibit by Martin Creed.
Sleep: the new hotel ingénue.
The past year has marked three major hotel openings, the largest of which was the debut of the
in North Miami Beach. The combination of a $1 billion investment and iconic Morris Lapidus-designed property yields two new hotel towers, revamped bow-tie shaped resort pool and a roster of eateries such as Gotham Steak. The new in-house LIV Nightclub will feature a Dec. 5 performance by Estelle to kick off Art Basel. Rooms have been restored to their Rachel Marron heyday, with glamorous leather-accented headboards, plush seating areas and striped marble baths. Its distance to South Beach makes it too far to walk, but with rooms still available for Art Basel from $390 per night, you'll have plenty left over for cab fare.
Eat: starving artists.
It seems as though every year offers a new it-restaurant along Miami's fashionable Lincoln Road. A polished storefront that counts Gap and endless outdoor cafes as its neighbors,
is born from the proprietors of nearby Touch. Glassy double doors open to an oversize hostess podium and dazzling main dining room lined with stone floors and wood-paneled walls intersected by subway tiles and floor-to-ceiling parchment panels. The room is divided between the rectangular crudo bar with barstool seating and dressy dining room with freestanding white-leather booths and two long rows of banquettes running along opposite walls. Steak standouts include a 10-ounce flatiron and 18-ounce New York cut steak as well as a daintier 6-ounce Kobe fillet for those looking for a late-night protein fix.
Drink: champagne with the sharks.
Gansevoort South has quickly become Miami's new it-spot, whether you're a South Beach local hitting David Barton Gym or a Wilhelmina model making your daily appearance at the rooftop Pluge pool lounge. Now comes the reign of
, the city's newest VIP nightclub backed by owners of Opium Group (Mansion, Prive). Separated from the Gansevoort lobby via a dazzling shark tank, the club is located through a separate entrance accessed via a valet reception of revved-up Porsches and Bentleys at the front of the hotel. Through a picky velvet rope, the entrance curves around a red velvet wall tufted in chrome skulls leading to a main lounge. The space is adorned in banquette seating and bold fluorescent accents opposite a long white bar with eclectic Louis XIV details.
Shop: your personal canvas.
Last year it was Alchemist that lured Art Basel fashionistas. This year it's
that has Louboutin-stomping commuters paving their way to the 'burbs and Aventura Mall for a boutique department store that's taken the city by storm. All-new Lounge is derived from Paris's Collette, located along Saint Honore with a large-scale boutique offering collections from the likes of Lanvin and McQueen. Lounge brings a bit of sexy Miami to the 6,000-square-foot couture emporium concept, featuring high-end housewares, jewelry, music store and an in-house apothecary. While scouring the parking lot of a Miami mall may be anything but artsy chic, hit the curbside valet and scope out the outdoor cafe offering French sandwiches and all-day champagne bar.
Play: art of a party:
They're the hottest party tickets you can score during Art Basel, namely the private soirées held in coordination with Miami's leading private collectors like the Rubell family and the Shack Collection. The top parties are often held in private homes or secluded art warehouses offering an invite-only guest list cracked by gallery owners or a savvy concierge. Corporate-sponsored events like the UBS and Vanity Fair party are a bit easier to get into, hosted at hotels like the Delano with its Lenny Kravitz-designed Florida Room. Nearby, the
will be hosting a Dec. 3 reception with sand sculpture created by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning on display throughout Art Basel hosted by hotel owners Cricket and Martin Taplin. For those who don't score an invite or entrance, the Sagamore is open to the public with one of the best private art collections found in the city.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.