LE Miami: Luxury Travel’s Visionary Trade Event

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LE Miami is a luxury travel trade show now in its second year. But it’s also a lot more than that.

LE Miami is closely tracking the shift in “luxury travel” and the shake up of the market. Traditional luxury, according to LE Miami, belongs to the past. The emergence of creative, design-led and community-integrated ‘lifestyle’ hotels have transformed the industry, and the growth of the ‘creative class’ has driven demand for travel products that are unique, culturally connected and bespoke. “Consequently”, LE Miami says, “the contemporary definition of luxury isn’t about money. It’s about creating an inimitable experience based on style, content, design, authenticity, storytelling and innovation”.

Reflecting this ethos, LE Miami invites a very select group of travel brands to their annual show in South Beach, where they can connect with buyers in a way they cannot anywhere else. And it’s a lot of fun, too. Pink sunglasses are handed out to every guest, DJ Jared Dietch spins all day, while the evenings .. the evenings are for parties. Over the top parties surrounded by street art Wynwood Walls on the first night; featuring a group of syncronised swimmers at the W South Beach’s pool deck on the second. I suspect that some of the best connections are made outside of the conference hall.

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The first night kicked off with the all-important award show, honouring the truly creative ‘disruptive’ travel brands offering unique experiences. The panel was made up of consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier; Crane.tv Founder Constantin Bjerke; creative director and jewellery designer India Hicks; AvroKO Partner Kristina O’Neal; singer- songwriter Mr Hudson; and interior designers Yabu Pushelberg, and here’s the list of winners:

1. GREATEST INNOVATION/DISRUPTION
FOGO ISLAND INN

 2. MOST ORIGINAL CAMPAIGN
ART SERIES HOTEL GROUP – THE OVERSTAY CHECKOUT 

3. MOST CREATIVE COLLABORATION
ACE HOTEL NEW YORK – CODEATHON WITH JAWBONE AND CLINTON HEALTH MATTERS INITIATIVE 

4. BEST INTERACTION WITH NEIGHBOURHOOD
THE THIEF – LOCAL ART PROJECTS WITH ASTRUP FEARNLEY MUSEUM, DOGA AND NETWORK AFTER IMPRISONMENT BY RED CROSS 

5. GREATEST GUEST EXPERIENCE
INIALA BEACH HOUSE – THE ENTOURAGE CONCEPT 

6. SEXIEST DESIGN
ION LUXURY ADVENTURE HOTEL  (Here’s my previous post on the ION)

Prior to the awards show, it was the Ministry of Ideas session where four travel experts spoke at length about their work and their take on what LE Miami calls “the shift in luxury.” Alan Faena (of the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires) started by saying “I don’t personally believe in the word luxury. To get through to more people, we need to take out the word” then told us a little more about his work in progress: the Faena Hotel  here in Miami. Faena is collaborating on the project with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, who will be handling the interiors, uniforms, and cultural programming for the hotel, which is just one part of Faena’s huge Miami development project (we drove past the site and it takes up a whole block )  and will, like in Buenos Aires, include an arts centre. “Our collaboration with Baz Luhrmann is spectacular”. Faena said at the show. “What he does in movies, we do in real life.”

The Faena development is definitely set to bring something new to Miami. Reminding the audience of what he did in Buenos Aires, where he opened up a hotel and arts centre at the then-run-down Puerto Madero (now home to the most expensive real estate in the city): “We started with an abandoned port in Buenos Aires and today our arts centre works with the best art centres in the world.” A slogan on the scaffolding covering the Faena project site on Collins Avenue reads “You start with an idea. You end up with a culture.” And that seems to be what LE Miami is all about.

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