Navigating the scene at Art Basel Miami Beach can be doozy for even the most sophisticated connoisseur, but that never stopped us for bringing the kids. Sure, taking the littles to see some paintings may sound simple, but everyone knows it's all about the parties. So you may be asking yourself, "how do I see and be seen with the tots in tow"? Read on for the answer. Our friend Jenn, owner of cool kid shop Babesta in TriBeCa grilled Passported CEO, Henley for her take on how to take on ABMB en famille. And of course, check out Jenn's picks for the best gear for your budding art dealer.
Q: What’s the best places to stay and why?
A: I love all the hotels in mid-beach, up in the 30s and 40s. You're close enough to the dining and nightlife scene (and easy to get across to the arty stuff in the Design District and Wynwood) but not in the thick of South Beach crowds. The new Faena is hands-down the place to score a room right now, but I still love the Edition, which has two pools so adults can chill by one and the other has more of a family orientation. The other new place a lot of families are liking is the 1 Hotel. It's a little farther south than I like to stay, and a little bigger than I generally like, but they have rooms with two king beds - unheard of! - that are a great fit for a family who doesn't want to splurge on a suite or connecting room, plus all the linens are organic and there's a Soul Cycle if you need to keep a fitness routine going.
Q: What sort of prep ahead of time should I do?
A: Start by booking your flight and hotels. Rooms sell out well ahead of time, and prices are high, so if you know where you want to be and don't want to pay a fortune for it, the sooner you book, the better. Then figure out what exhibits are on, which galleries have the shows that interest you and your crew, and where the parties are that you want to attend. Dinner reservations and a good babysitter are key to making evenings run smoothly (those both book up, too).
Q: Are there events that kid friendly or geared toward families at ABMB?
Anything outdoors, like films or performances in Collins or SoundScape Parks, are a good bet with kids. But even at the Convention Center, the Miami Children's Museum sets up a playroom for kids ages 4 to 12 where parents can drop their minis to do art projects while they cruise the show.
Q: What about nightlife? How do I elegantly shed the kids and enjoy a party?
A lot of the parties happen in hotels, and a lot of the hotels have nightclubs that host events. If you're nervous about straying too far while your children are with a sitter, plan to attend the parties that are just an elevator ride away. (And don't worry about the noise - request a high floor and you won't hear a thing.) Trusting that you have a good sitter with the kids makes the whole thing easier. I'm lucky that I have in-laws in Miami that will take the kids, but my friends swear by The Babysitting Company. They'd be my first call if I didn't have the grandparents on duty.
What makes the modern art scene, in your estimation, a great choice for a family?
The color, the interactivity, the elements of performance...these are things that capture everyone's attention and imagination. While I can't claim to understand much of what I see, I find it easier to cruise with the kids than Old Masters.
Q: Any other tips or don’t miss ideas with this year’s extravaganza?
A: If you have young kids transitioning out of a stroller, bring it anyways. The Convention Center is huge, and carrying a 30 lb 3-year-old through it won't let you enjoy the show. And snacks!
Q: There can be some NSFK moments – how do you handle or avoid them (e.g.: I'm a pro in getting into these sitch. I once took the girls to the New Museum over on the bowery to the 80s exhibit. It wasn’t “my 80s” - LOL and they got an education in Mapplethorpe, not the flowers!)
A: Ooof, I had a moment like this last weekend at PS1, a video by a Chinese artist that showed some amorous plastic figures, um, making babies. We moved out of that room quickly. I think for the most part, at a big art show, there are so MANY things to look at that if you come across something inappropriate, just keep moving. Young ones may not have even noticed what you saw. The themes likely to come up that will make you squirm are sex, poverty and violence, so if you have older kids, this could kick-start a conversation that, while uncomfortable, isn't a bad one to have. But it's okay to scoot quickly beyond something that you're not ready for kids to see.
Q: Have you guys organized such a trip through Passported?
A: We work really closely with all the best hotels in Miami, so give us a buzz if you're trying to get yourself in. We've stayed in almost every good hotel in town ourselves, too, so we can give you the ins and outs of the rooms, service and food. If the resort prices seem too crazed, we also have a local apartment rental person who can help find alternatives. We don't have an in-house concierge, but we'll get you hooked up with a place to stay (most of the hotels we work with also throw in free breakfast, spa credits and room upgrades for our clients, too) then tell you our favorite places to eat and what to see and do with your family. The concierge at the hotel is the right guy to score you the table, but we'll point you in the right direction.