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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — At Opa Locka airport the private jets are lining up. Outside the American Airlines Arena, super yachts are pulling in. Some mega-yachts look like dinghies as they park next to the 332 foot Attessa IV. The mega yacht is worth $250 million dollars, or 5 times what the most expensive property in Miami. What’s going on? Money, big money is coming to Miami for Art Basel.
It’s hard to imagine in 2002, a Swiss art show would have such an impact.
Samuel Keller, Art Basel’s director at the time explained Miami seemed to be a good fit. “What we need is a venue, a venue where we can bring people from over the world, he said. Fast forward 13 years and Basel has changed Miami’s art scene.
Rolando Aedo with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau believes the impact has been tremendous.
“We were growing in art and culture but Art Basel sort of put of us on fast forward and kind of put us on steroids,” explained Aedo. “And we are now benefiting from that amazing halo effect after 13 years.”
Art Basel by the numbers tells the story.
In 2001, before Basel, more than half of Miami Beach hotel rooms were empty during the same time of year. That changed with Basel the very first year and kept growing. Even during the recession hotels were selling out. Last year the Beach reached 82-percent occupancy.
Aedo smiles at the numbers.
“Early December has gone from a relatively soft time of the year, between the holidays, to one of the most profitable times of the years, “ he said. The average hotel on Miami Beach has jumped from a little over $100 to more than $400.
Alex Tonarelli, general manager at the Miami Beach Loews watched Art Basel’s growth from the start.
“It’s great for our hotel. It’s great for all the restaurants in the area and it’s great for business as a whole,” he said. What was traditionally one of the slowest weeks of the year is now the third busiest for them.
Even the hotel has some art exhibits on site this week including a set of teepees lined with televisions, headphones, and other sensory devices.
“These are sensory experiences in each teepee so it’s visual art. You put on some headphones, you lay down,” he explained. Art installations can be found all around the property because as Art Basel has proven art is good for business.
“We really go all out this week to take care of our guests. They are spending a lot of money to be here and we want them to have a great stay and to come back,” Tonarelli explained.
The art show is still a buying frenzy but it’s now becoming an event to attend as well.