Art Basel

Collective wisdom

South Beach hotels are temples to glam over substance. But as Basel Week deepens its roots and Miami matures, even some of the flashiest hotels have recognized the power of the artist as contemporary philosopher — not to mention the lucrative nature of culture-driven tourism.

Perhaps no hotel has ever fed the mind as well as New York’s Algonquin during the heady 1920s, when Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman and friends hung out there. Now the Betsy and the Soho Beach House are summoning fresher muses with regular art talks, literary salons, film screenings, musical recitals. The Sagamore exhibits contemporary works from the vast collection of Cricket and Marty Taplin, who opened the hotel in 2001. Over the years they have commissioned artworks and art happenings specifically for the hotel and hosted a number of artist-fueled events.

The James Royal Palm, which also prides itself on its art collection, last season hosted a glittery evening of art and performance in collaboration with the New World Symphony, Museum of Contemporary Art and National YoungArts Foundation. “Cultural Collection” events are expected to recur.

The Betsy, which offers year-round poetry and literature salons, writer-in-residence programs and mini in-room libraries, plans a host of exhibits and talks for this Basel, including a show of works by William Kentridge and Christopher Cozier.

Soho, a hotel and membership club known for its carefully curated art collection, often trades private memberships and hotel credits for artworks by local and international artists, which means creative sorts spend quality time there and help elevate the vibe. It is also committed to annual pre-Basel talks with Jeffrey Deitch, director of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, and has hosted numerous musical programs and film screenings featuring Q&A sessions with directors.

Sure, the city can be a hotbed for crass hedonism. But these days, it can satiate more highbrow hankerings, too.