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Great Escapes // Miami

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Booming Art Scene

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miami: the cop chase scenes from Miami Vice; scantily clad women dancing on yachts for the latest rap video; a tacky graveyard where neon goes to die. The Gateway to the Americas has grown up over the last five years to become a thriving cultural epicenter with a full dose of art.

Never is this more apparent than during Art Basel Miami, from December 2 to 5, when the heavy hitters of the art world congregate in South Beach for the largest contemporary art fair in the United States. Consider this Fashion Week for art aficionados.

Photo by Randy Faris/Corbis

Sagamore Hotel
Start the trip by checking in at the Sagamore, the city’s premier art hotel, situated on Collins Avenue in the Art Deco District—in the center of it all. Nearly every inch of this privately owned property is touched by art. Each December, in conjunction with Art Basel, the hotel unveils a carefully curated exhibit (this year’s will feature Neil Farber and James Valerio) and hosts an invite-only brunch for A-list artists, buyers and gallery owners from around the world.
Delano Hotel

If you prefer beach chic to modern design, head down a couple doors to the Delano hotel, a hot spot for the see-and-be-seen crowd. The flowing white chiffon drapes in the lobby make this ethereal oasis feel like a socialite heaven, while the white-on-white guest rooms designed by Philippe Starck ooze cool. Next up, polish off your mojito at the pool bar before stepping into the sun.

Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is a stone’s throw from the luxury hotels, restaurants and nightclubs that make up Collins Avenue—or, as the locals call it, “the Strip.” More than 40,000 visitors spend the weekend here, getting lost in the works of more than 2,000 esteemed artists from 250 leading international galleries: from the Gagosian in New York City to Sprüth Magers in Berlin or London’s Lisson Gallery, only the crème de la crème are exhibited.

Photo courtesy MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd.

For the second consecutive year, the fair is also moving the party beachside to its additional location: Oceanfront, a pop-up structure that spans a city block and features mixed media including performance, video and live music.
Surrounding Art Districts

After getting your fill of the Art Deco District, jump in a cab and head across Biscayne Bay 15 minutes to Design District and the de La Cruz Collection, a world-renown contemporary art gallery that houses impressive works by contemporary artists such as Jim Hodges, Guillermo Kuitca and Sigmar Polke.

Then venture over to the Wynwood Art District, an up-and-coming neighborhood where popular pop-up shows such as Art Miami, Pulse and Scope set up shop during Art Basel and feature hundreds of international galleries.

Even if you miss out on Art Basel, there is plenty to keep art lovers interested all year long. The Museum of Contemporary Art ranks high on the list, as do the private collections at the Rubell Family Collection and Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. Love sculpture? Check out the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.


After sunset, regroup at your hotel before stepping back into the city lights. Part of the excitement of this weekend is hobnobbing with the elite, and there’s no better way to do so than while wining and dining at the hottest spots in town. Book a table at the ever-popular Japanese restaurant Nobu at Shore Club for caught-fresh-daily sushi and sashimi. Or try to snag a reservation at the exclusive steak house Prime One Twelve, where the filet mignon with Gorgonzola-smoked bacon and onion truffle is out of this world.

For a nightcap, stop by the Pool Bar at the Raleigh Hotel. The retro-inspired property has the same charm it had when built during the “Boom Over Miami” period of the early 1940s. Here you will find prominent art collectors, gallery owners and artists unwinding over martinis, with the sound of ocean tides rushing in.

Where to Shop: The Webster
Packing for South Beach takes some planning: You’ll need beachwear, resort wear and cocktail attire. Luckily, Collins Avenue doubles as the Madison Avenue of Miami and has designer stores such as Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs at Bal Harbour. Also on Collins, though farther south in Miami Beach, The Webster luxury boutique is housed in a historic art deco building and was just voted best independent store by a GQ readers poll.

Playing it cool in the heat during Art Basel Miami, see why the art crowd is going gaga for this city.

By Stephanie Davila

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