Art Basel is just around the corner for Miami Beach, Florida. But as fair-goers start to book their hotels, a pattern has been arising: everything is very expensive. Although the area is known for having pricey hotels and luxury destinations, some of the prices are so outrageous that it begs the question: are hotels price-gouging ahead of Art Basel? CELEB takes a look at the prices around the area and what might be happening. 

Art Basel Miami

Art Basel

This year’s Art Basel Miami is happening on December 2 through 4. 2020 Should have been a joyous celebration of the art fair’s 50th year, but obviously things went a little sideways. However, 2021 is a chance to start fresh and celebrate all that Art Basel brings to the world of art and culture. So what does this year’s festival have to offer? Here are some of the highlights:

  • Wynwood Walls: The permanent art installation celebrated the world over announced their theme this year would be, “Agents of Change.” The mural installation is adding 13 new pieces from globally-renowned artists.
  • Chanel Jungle Plaza: It’s the 100th anniversary of the brand’s iconic fragrance, so to celebrate they’re creating a labyrinthine, multi-sensory experience under the guidance of artist Es Devlin. The installation centers on a massive sculpture, flanked by 1,000 trees. The trees will be planted around Miami after the festival concludes.
  • Louis Vuitton: The premiere design brand will showcase their Spring men’s collection to a runway at Art Basel by artist designer Virgil Abloh. 
  • RIMOWA: The German luggage company associated with a minimalist metal chic is debuting its “As Seen By” line which reinvents its classic lines and shapes through the eyes of artists. 
  • The Confidante: This iconic hotel is teaming up with the Museum of Graffiti to create a massive skatepark installation in the hotel’s backyard from the hands of female graffiti artists, activists and skaters from around the world. They will host skate demonstrations, art sales and a female empowerment panel. 
  • American Express Platinum Studio: A place for visitors to unwind, set up just outside of Miami’s EDITION hotel. It’s an immersive place to unwind with shoppable art pieces throughout.
  • Hästens Grand Vividus: Hästens is unveiling its $500K Grand Vividus Bed. Guests can call ahead to schedule “Sleep Spa Basel Breaks” if you need a place to lie down – on “the world’s most comfortable bed.”

Plus many, many more things to enjoy. From the local artist building a reputation to the world-famous, Art Basel is a chance for the contemporary and urban art world to come together and celebrate the joy of creating.

Price-Gouging? 

Art Basel

It sounds amazing, so of course people are flocking to Miami Beach for the event. But there have been some concerns that hotels in the area are unfairly hiking up their prices. Let’s take a look at some of the hotel prices in the area for the week of Art Basel:

  • Fontainebleau: Normally running around $350-$550 a night this time of year, the weekend of Art Basel prices are $944 a night.
  • Loews Miami Beach Hotel: Even Thanksgiving weekend only runs $512 a night, but for Art Basel they’re charging $1,029 a night.
  • The Retreat Collection at 1 Hotel & Homes: Although this is already a pricey hotel with averages in the $8K range, it’ll cost you over $10K a night for Art Basel weekend.
  • W South Beach: This hotel usually runs around $1K a night this time of year, but December 2 through 4 they want $8,569 a night. 
  • 1 Hotel South Beach: Usually charges around $1,300 a night but wants over $3K a night.

So are they price-gouging? By definition, they are. One could argue that it’s just smart business; after a slow year, they have a chance to recoup some losses by taking advantage of high demand. However, some of the cost hikes are outrageous and obviously price-gouging. Tt’s hard to argue a three-fold or more increase is necessary.

But due to the nature of Art Basel and the type of people who travel to enjoy it, it’s likely the hotels will fill anyway. 

Resumption of International Travel is ‘Demand Meets Desperation’

It’s not just Art Basel driving higher prices in hotels, however. Some international customers are finding themselves paying outrageous prices to visit family now that international travel has resumed. Of course the argument goes: as demand has increased, prices should as well. But there has to be a reasonable point at which hoteliers say, “This has been a tough year for everyone, maybe we shouldn’t recoup our losses all at once.” 

It’s a tough industry to be in; hospitality and hotels have suffered immensely over the past 18 months. Many businesses have folded, but those that have stayed afloat are hoping that people being allowed to travel again will save them from doom. It’s understandable that now some prices are higher than expected, but it doesn’t have to be crazy.

Art Basel does tend to favor an elite clientele and perhaps they won’t feel the sting of the hiked prices as much as others would. But of course, it’s not just Art Basel attendees looking to stay in Miami that weekend, so normal people will feel the burn as well. Miami is a large urban center but there are plenty of smaller cities nearby if visitors to the city aren’t looking to pay outrageous prices. In Nearby Hollywood, for example, some hotels have followed Miami’s lead and hiked prices outrageously. Others have not, and may be viable options for visitors. 

Price-gouging in Florida is far from uncommon, especially during the height of hurricane season, and there’s not a lot of incentive for those at the top to stop it. Although it may be unfair, it’s unlikely anything will change. So if you’re heading to Art Basel or Miami in general the weekend of December 2 through 4, expect to pay more, or expect to drive far.