If it's December, then Miami is all abuzz with the world's biggest art fair. Fusing contemporary, modern, and emerging artists, the main Art Basel Miami has spawned many offshoots, making Miami a city of culture and entertainment in the week surrounded the big event December 3-6.
There are hundreds of parties, dozens of killer hotels to book into, and more art than you can cram into a whole season. So we asked hotelier Jason Pomeranc—an Art Basel regular and founder of the luxe Thompson Hotels and the new Sixty Hotels—what not to miss. (Hint: It includes his new retro-cool hotel, Nautilus.) "As someone who appreciates architecture, it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to restore and recreate this Morris Lapidus landmark on Collins Avenue," he says. "And to open during the fair is exciting. Art Basel Miami has opened up a whole new market for artists. There is no way that these young artists could have gotten this kind of recognition. Nowhere else is art so easily accessible to anyone, not just to art insiders."
With Miami experiencing a renaissance "that we haven’t seen since the 1950s" and the kind of global wealth, creativity, food, and art coming into town now year-round, "Miami has become America’s Riviera."
Jason Pomeranc's 7 Rules of "Doing" Art Basel
1. Your normal Miami rhythm is going to be broken.
"You’re going to have to accept that this city is taken over by this extraordinary movement. So you have to be strategic about your time. There is a tremendous amount of social activity. It is a remarkable experience to be able to see that much innovative art in a short period of art, but you need to embrace that if you want to enjoy yourself."
2. Spend at least a day at the main fair.
"I think NADA and Scope embrace the younger galleries and their artists are wonderful. That is half a day each. And then you want to check out the Rubell Family Museum, the De la Cruz Collection, the Marguiles Collection at the Warehouse: They are basically private museums and are open periodically to the public. They focus on artists that are already established but in the minds of these collectors, they are ready to take it to the institutional level."
"Art is everywhere in Miami, and taking in all that information is exhausting. You need to balance that with some decompression. The beach is what makes everything go. Simply just taking time and relaxing and swimming and making your art week a vacation as well is important. You need to have enough time to not rush. Having come from L.A., where I spent the summer and the water was so cold, I love swimming here at sunset when the sky turns orange and the water was so incredibly inviting. It’s almost like a pool."
4. Spend some time at the Nautilus.
"Clearly I am going to recommend the Driftwood Room, which is manned by celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. It’s a Med menu inspired by some of my travels to the beach clubs of southern Europe. It’s heavily seafood based—light and indulgent—so order the whole fish or go nuts with the côte de boeuf for two, our signature dish."
5. But also eat your heart out elsewhere.
"As a semi local I love Mandolin, which is a Greek restaurant in the Design District. It’s a charming bit of serenity in the madness of what’s going on. Zuma down on Brickell is an amazing Asian restaurant whose broad selection of food is almost inconceivable. It's very energetic, very high-concept, and a different vibe than South Beach. One of my favorite local places is in the Freehand Hotel, which is more like a hostel. They've got [the restaurant] Twenty Seven, an eclectic menu done by Miami locals and it ranges from Israeli to South American. It’s a real locals hangout, and I spend a lot time there."
6. Prepare to shop.
"The Webster is always great and the shops that have come up in the Design District are amazing. It’s really worth a trip. And Bal Harbour is beautiful with great shops and it's all outdoors."
7. Try to walk—or bike—everywhere.
"Traffic is brutal during this period, so I would not recommend driving. We offer bikes at the Nautilus, and biking can be a great way to see the town, the people, the neighborhoods. Art Basel Miami is complete art democracy and it is propelling the young art world. It’s a bigger event than New Year’s, and it's worth seeing it on the ground."