Hotel rooms for Art Basel Miami Beach as high as $9,500
By Patricia Hoyos
and Rachel Tannenbaum
As the first day of Art Basel Miami Beach nears, hotels are already running out of space to accommodate the expected influx of international visitors, with few rooms remaining for dates during the festival.
"The hotels are pretty much sold out," said Nicholas Christopher, president of Art Basel's official travel agency, Turon Travel Inc. "It's going to be a very busy year down there."
The 10th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach will bring art aficionados from all over the world to Miami-Dade County.
Turon Travel is working with 47 properties from South Beach to downtown Miami, Mr. Christopher said. The agency offered special packages for fairgoers, which included discounted hotel rates and airfares.
But many of those deals are already gone as regular art collectors tend to book early, he said. Still, the agency is still trying to accommodate many last-minute requests.
The W South Beach hotel has been sold out since July, said General Manager George Cozonis. That's about a month and a half earlier than last year, he added.
Rates for the W South Beach are about 20% higher than last year, beginning at $1,009 and ranging up to $9,500 a night, he said.
"Art Basel is a very exciting and important part of the year because we are very closely associated with the fair," he said.
The hotel hosts an opening reception and events every night of the festival. It also has its own art collection, which is a point of interest for many event-goers.
Mr. Cozonis said that although Art Basel is a popular time for international visitors, particularly from Europe and South America, to come to Miami, it isn't necessarily the busiest time for the hotel. The W South Beach is also already sold out for every weekend in December and for Christmas to the New Year. Additionally, he said, the hotel sold out every weekend this year.
Before the first Art Basel took place in Miami in 2002, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was historically slow for the hospitality industry. Ten years later, early December is the peak season for Miami tourism. Historically, the art festival has been remarkable for Miami's hospitality industry, increasing hotels' occupancy and room rates.
Another hotel gearing up to welcome art enthusiasts this December is The Palms Hotel & Spa in South Beach.
"We're practically sold out at this point," said Lorenz Henry, reservations manager. "This year is busier than last year."
As of Nov. 16, the hotel had less than 10% of its inventory available, he said. At that time last year, around 70% of the hotel was booked, indicating a hike in the number of advanced bookings.
"Rates average between $449 and $589," he said. "Those rates won't hold again until next year."
Hotel demand for the week of Art Basel has increased over the years at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami, with 95% occupancy booking in advance, said Alexandra Wensley, director of communications. She said rates start from $479 nightly during Art Week.
As the hotel sponsor of Art Miami for the second year, the hotel will be showcasing contemporary Asian art. Dec. 1 it will host an invitation-only preview in its lobby and will offer VIP passes for the art fair to hotel guests.
Ms. Wensley said Art Basel is a great way to kick off the hotel's high season.
"We saw great business from Art Basel last year in not just hotel bookings but in our restaurants and spa," Ms. Wensley said. "It's an extra amenity for our guests and is a great way to relax after seeing all the art."
Anna Whitlow, marketing manager at the Clevelander and Essex house, said occupancy at both hotels has seen great pickup. Rates at the Clevelander during Art Basel start at $325 and at the Essex House $305.
"Art Basel brings artists from all over the world, and we want to spotlight local artists and give people a local take on Art Basel," Ms. Whitlow said. "The Clevelander is over 70 years old and has been redecorated and remodeled, and we want to show off the Art Deco."
As for The Betsy, Jeff Lehman, general manager, said the hotel is sold out, with rates 25% higher than last year. Rooms during Art Basel run about $917 per night.
The Betsy became part of Art Basel in 2009, with Mr. Lehman experiencing his first Art Basel as general manager in 2010. He said the Betsy revolves around the arts and culture year round and he's excited to show the hotel's authenticity during Art Basel, especially since the hotel is in the middle of an Art Deco street and it isn't Art Deco.
"It is a crazy, chaotic wonderful time in Miami during Art Basel and it gives me pride in the city and to be a resident and to see the city transform," Mr. Lehman said.
Booking for rooms at the Betsy during Art Basel week began as early as the end of summer. Last year there were more last-minute bookings, Mr. Lehman said, which might be an effect of the economy.
More advanced booking this year, he said, means businesses throughout Miami Beach are doing better than last year.
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