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Last-Minute Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach

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To celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 1-4) inaugurates new collaborations with the Bass Museum of Art and the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, which promise to transform the cultural land- and soundscape of South Beach – extending beyond the Miami Beach Convention Center (ABMB’s venue), where more than 260 top galleries from across the globe showcase 2,000 modern and contemporary artists.  There’s an admission charge for the fair (not to mention the price of the art), but plenty outdoors is free. Here's our what-not-to miss guide, plus recommendations for last-minute hotel booking.

This December, Art Public triples in size. Along with the Bass Museum, it will turn Collins Park, between the W South Beach and the Setai, into a sculpture garden. Twenty-four works will line the green that runs to the Atlantic: keep an eye out for sublime marble voids by Anish Kapoor, Robert Indiana’s medium-as-message Art, and Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s 49 Days No. 1, an 11-foot-tall brick hog (above).

Also for the first time: Art Video expands beyond screenings at the convention center and will project work onto the 7,000-square-foot wall of Soundscape Park’s dazzling New World Center.  Contrast is the watchword: 37 video artists grace the screen, ranging from Nintendo-savant Cory Archangel and Art-world It Girl Laurel Nakadate to the erotically charged Marilyn Minter. Available to all who chance down Lincoln Road after dark.  Just bring a beach chair.

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Open to the public are notable private collections, including those of Margulies, De la Cruz, the Rubell Family, the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Foundation, and—for the first time though by invitation only—Adam Sender. And there are the satellite fairs: Verge, for emerging, provocative artists; Art Asia; and Design Miami, a showcase of international and collectible design, furniture, furnishings, and more, which this year will create an exhibition space adjacent to the convention center.

Need a break from the art but not the artists?  Check out the Conversation series (free with general admission ticket) where you can hear artist talks by Mexico’s Gabriel Orozco, Britain’s Tracey Emin, and others.

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1700 Convention Center Drive; Dec. 1 – 4, noon – 8 PM daily, Sunday noon – 6 PM; $85 (full run), $40 (one day), $28 (after 4 PM); artbaselmiamibeach.com.

 

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HOTEL INFO:

In its first year, Art Basel Miami Beach welcomed more than 20,000 visitors and by its ninth year in 2010, attendance had more than doubled to 46,000 visitors from around the world. This year, the festival is expecting to outdo itself again, which means hotel rooms will be at a premium—unfortunate news if you who have yet to book accommodations.

But all is not lost: Turon Travel, the official travel agency of Art Basel Miami Beach, has reserved blocks of rooms at hotels across town at preferred rates.

Here is a list, courtesy of Turon Travel of your best chance for booking a room.

Your best bet in Miami Beach is the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Ave.; 800-548-8886) fresh from a $1 billion renovation, this 22-acre oceanfront Goliath has 1,504-rooms spread across four towers, a 40,000 square-foot spa, and 12 restaurants including Scarpetta by James Beard Award-winning chef, Scott Conant.

The Eden Roc Miami Beach (4525 Collins Ave.; 800-319-5354), once host to Hollywood royalty such as Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart, has 631 rooms, 300 of which are located in the 21 story Ocean Tower, after at $200 million, 18-month long renovation, completed in 2008. All 300 rooms have their own balconies and views of the turquoise Atlantic Ocean. The first-ever (22,000-square-foot) Elle Spa recommends calling ahead to book.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel (1601 Collins Ave.; (305) 604-1601) is a 790-room property built in the Art Deco style in South Beach. This is your best bet if you want to be close to the hub of activity at the Miami Beach Convention Center (the location of the Art Basel fair) at a hotel with beautiful, beachside sunsets, and an oceanfront swimming pool and Jacuzzi with private cabanas.

Got the urge to splurge? Consider the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach (One Lincoln Rd.; (800) 241-3333), a 375-room oceanfront resort, and one of only two Art Hotels in South Beach. On December 1st, don't miss the hotel's Master's Mystery Art Show: a free exhibition of thousands of 6x9 postcards designed by a mix of established and up-and-coming artists, celebrities, and high profile members of the community. Each work will be on display anonymously, and for sale for $50. Its only if you decide to buy a tiny masterpiece that you'll find out who is responsible for the oeuvre. The event is open to the public and proceeds benefit Florida International University's Master of Fine Arts program.

Also: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is only about 10-15 further away from the action than Miami International Airport—and it's less hectic. A recent search of flights from NYC, for example, shows available flights around $300.

Christopher recommends booking right now, however, rooms are going quickly. For the best available rates, contact Turon Travel directly at (212) 925-5453 or artbaselmiamibeach@turontravel.com.

Gabriella Fuller is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Marguerite A. Suozzi is an Assistant Research Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Images courtesy of MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd.

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