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Bass Angler Magazine

NAPLES, MARCO ISLAND & THE EVERGLADES

naples beach clubNaples is a charming resort city on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico along Florida’s Paradise Coast. Visitors luxuriate in the area’s stylish atmosphere, which includes beautiful downtown pedestrian walks with shops, art galleries and restaurants and row after row of palatial homes surrounded by tropical landscaping. The area is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, golf courses, fishing, boating, water sports, arts and culture and spectacular sunsets. Visitors in the slower season from May through December often enjoy significant savings on hotel deals, while still enjoying the elegant ambience and charm of this beautiful coastal city.

Naples is growing in popularity with families and as a romantic retreat for younger couples. Long known as an upscale retreat for retirees, the area has evolved to appeal to a wider, more diverse and younger audience with its vibrant downtown café scene and exhilarating outdoor adventure activities.

LIFE’S A BEACH

The splendor of Naples begins with its powdery white sand beaches, which extend from the recreational settings of the parks and public access beaches in downtown Naples to the more secluded seaside havens to the north of town. Naples’ beaches are regarded among the finest in the world, and offer visitors a tranquil and beautiful escape from everyday life. Barefoot Beach, just north of downtown Naples, appears at #2 in the list of Top Ten 2015 America’s Best Beaches list issued every year by coastal researcher Dr. Stephen Leatherman, “Dr. Beach.” Travelocity also named Barefoot Beach as one of its Top Ten Secluded Beaches for the summer of 2005. Another north Naples beach at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is ranked on Dr. Beach’s Top Ten USA Beaches list at #9. Conde Nast Traveler put Naples on its list of Top Twenty Beaches in America in 2006. The Travel Channel named Naples America’s Best All-Around Beach for 2005 because of the wealth of activity choices in the area along with its expanse of lovely white sands. Consumers at Yahoo! Travel voted Naples beach in the Top Ten USA Beaches in 2003. Picturesque public boardwalks over the dunes leading to the beach are found throughout the downtown Naples area, offering multiple public access sites for those visitors not staying at a Gulf front resort. In 2011 U.S. News & World Report ranked Naples as the #5 most relaxing beach in the USA and the Caribbean. The 2011 TripAdvisor Readers’ Choice Poll put Naples at #13 on the Top 25 Beaches in the USA. Keewaydin Island, located between Naples and Marco Island and accessible only by boat, was placed on the Southern Living list of Top Ten Secret Beaches of the South for its eight miles of beautiful white sandy beach.

TAKE A STROLL

Naples is also perhaps one of the best places in Florida for a scenic stroll. USA TODAY recently named downtown Naples’ Third Street South as one of the Top 10 Prettiest Southern Streets for a Stroll. Naples was recently named the #1 Best Destination for Luxury Travelers and Fifth Avenue South was named the #2 Best Alfresco Dining Neighborhood in the U.S.A. by editors and readers at USA TODAY’s 10Best travel section.

Opportunities for relaxing walks are plentiful in Naples, as beautiful architecture meets wondrous window shopping and trendy cafés. Secluded courtyards, outdoor sculptures and beautiful fountains highlight historic buildings throughout downtown Naples. The Naples Historical Society offers guided walking tours downtown beginning from the historic Palm Cottage on 12th Street near Naples Pier. Out’nBack Nature Tours offers a specialized walking tour of Naples using hand help GPS to solve clues along the way. And, the Naples Chocolate Stroll provides tempting chocolate treats and lots of local-insider information about the city.

The beach is always within easy reach for an invigorating jog or relaxing stroll at sunset. Nearby, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary provides a 2.25-mile long boardwalk through the country’s last old growth bald cypress forest, home to hundreds of bird and animal species. For those that want to tour the Old Naples area without walking, Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planning and Extreme Family Fun Spot both offer guided Segway tours. Hop on these innovative human transport devices for a completely new way to experience Naples.

FAMILY FUN

More families are discovering the delights of Naples. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is fully accredited by the national Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and offers unique shows and interactive animal experiences including the Meet the Keeper series, the multimedia Planet Predator show and a boat ride to tour the zoo’s cage-free primate islands within a large lake. The zoo is one of only four in the U.S. to have African honey badgers.

Along with beautiful beaches lining the Naples and nearby Marco Island coastlines, there are countless guided boat tours for dolphin watching, shell collecting and sightseeing that delight every age. Guided JetSki tours also offer fun ways to combine a fun ride with a memorable sightseeing experience involving birds and wildlife. The Sun-n-Fun Lagoon water park at North Collier Regional Park offers huge water slides and a lazy river for tubing through the park. Airboat rides in the nearby Everglades are popular, as is the Naples Pier, a great spot for fishing or wildlife and people watching. C’mon, the Children’s Museum of Naples, opened with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits in 2012. Naples Botanical Garden features an interactive Children’s Garden and cultivated gardens of Brazil, Florida, Asia and the Caribbean. The garden also has an extensive system of nature trails through native Florida upland habitat and a birding tower overlooking natural wetlands.

GOLF CAPITAL

With over 90 golf courses in the Greater Naples metro area, the region is #1 in the National Golf Foundation’s rankings of Golf Holes Per Capita. Florida’s Paradise Coast was selected by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators as the 2014 Golf Destination of the Year-North America. A growing number of public courses provide ample opportunity for visitors to get into the swing, including the TPC Treviso Bay course, Panther Run Golf Club at Ave Maria and the Flamingo Island and Mustang courses at Lely Resort. However, many area resorts either own their own private courses or have affiliate relationships with area private clubs. Many avid golfers have discovered that the best way to obtain tee times at Naples premiere private golf clubs is to choose an affiliated hotel for a visit. Entry onto area courses may be obtained through stays at resorts that have their own courses, including LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Marco Beach Ocean Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples (yes, there are two – the beach resort and the golf resort), The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa, GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort and the Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort. Information on where to play and stay is available at the Paradise Coast Web site’s Golf section.

 Naples is home to three top nationally televised tournaments each year – the ACE Group Classic, part of the PGA Champions Tour is played each year in February at TwinEagles Golf Club; the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship is played each November at Tiburon Golf Club; and Greg Norman hosts the annual Franklin Templeton Shootout in December, also at Tiburon Golf Club.

UNPARALLELED SHOPPING

In historic shopping districts and waterfront plazas, Naples visitors can find unique treasures ranging from original artwork by the masters to designer fashions. Third Street South, Naples’ business district at the turn of the century and now a recognized historic district, serves as a premier shopping and dining district. This has become a trendy shopping village of more than 100 distinctive shops, art galleries, outdoor cafés and restaurants – all within walking distance to the beach. The area includes Gallery Row, a collection of distinctive art galleries located near the intersection of Broad Street and Third Street South. Third Street South even has its own Street Concierge. The concierge booth is staffed daily with friendly helpers eager to point you in the right direction for dining, shopping and more. Free music and entertainment is offered along Third Street every Thursday evening January through May and every third Thursday evening from June through December.

Just a few blocks away, Fifth Avenue South has undergone a renaissance. Famed architect and urban planner Andres Duany lead the innovative redesign effort over twenty years ago that has transformed Fifth Avenue South into a dynamic pedestrian-friendly scene both day and night. Art galleries, clothing, gift and design boutiques, the Sugden Theatre – home to The Naples Players community theatre group – a hotel, cafes, bars and restaurants line Naples’ official downtown Main Street. Entertainment and special events like art festivals are scheduled regularly by the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District and other organizations. Evenings on Fifth with free live music and other entertainment happens every second Thursday between November and April.

Just a short walk from Fifth Avenue South is historic Tin City, the heart of the Old Naples Waterfront district. Located on the Gordon River leading into Naples Bay, the eclectic tin-roofed shopping and entertainment venue features nautical and nature-themed gift shops, clothing and souvenir shops and casual seafood restaurants on the water. Located on the site of a 1920’s clam shelling and oyster processing plant incorporating waterfront buildings once used for the boat building and maintenance industry, Tin City captures the rustic maritime spirit of what was once the center of Naples’ fishing industry. Tin City is also home to Pure Florida’s wide variety of sightseeing cruises as well as fishing charters, JetSki rentals and tours and a thrilling jet boat ride.

Across the street from Tin City you’ll find Bayfront shopping, dining, arts and entertainment center. Colorful Mediterranean architecture houses a collection of upscale shops complemented by restaurants, bars, fine art galleries and the newly renovated Bayfront Inn 5th Avenue, all overlooking the Gordon River. The waterfront Village on Venetian Bay, evocative of the townhouses of Venice, is a destination for sophisticated fashion, jewelry, gourmet shops and fine dining in a picturesque environment located in the Park Shore neighborhood just north of downtown Naples. Nearby at the Waterside Shops at Pelican Bay, you’ll find boutiques, shops and restaurants surrounded by lush landscaping, covered walkways and sparkling pools and fountains. Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom anchor numerous elegant specialty shops, with an impressive list of luxury retailers including Tiffany & Co., Hermes and Cartier, and the first Escales Paris boutique in the United States.

 

The Mercato development continues to open new restaurants and shops, including the Whole Foods natural and organic market and cafe, Capital Grille steak house, AZN pan Asian restaurant, The Pub – an authentic English pub – Blue Martini, McCormick & Schmick seafood restaurant and Burn, Rocky Patel’s first cigar and spirits bar in the world. The Silverspot Luxury Cinema offers independent and art films along with general release movies, and serves as the main location for the annual Naples International Film Festival that takes place during the first week in November. Coastland Center, the regional mall in Naples, encompasses 950,000 square feet of enclosed climate-controlled shopping, including 150 stores and small specialty shops and restaurants. Just across the street from Coastland Center is the first PGA Tour Superstore to open in Florida, with an extensive inventory of golf and tennis equipment and clothing, along with golf simulators for practice and evaluation. Naples Outlet Center is a haven for those with an eye for value. This treasure chest of designer outlet stores, located mid-way between Naples and Marco Island, is home to more than 40 shopping destinations, including Mikasa, Jones New York, Harry & David, Izod and Dansk. Just to the north, not far from Southwest Florida International Airport, shoppers will find designer discounts at Miromar Outlets and a wide range of shops at Gulf Coast Town Center, including Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
Some of the most unique and charming gifts may be found at the area’s hotel and resort gift shops, excellent places to shop for the perfect keepsake of your visit to paradise. Area art centers including the Marco Island Center for the Arts and von Liebig Art Center in downtown Naples also have gift shops with art produced by local artists. The Baker Museum at Artis―Naples also has an excellent gift shop. Popular Naples clay artist Jim Rice has a studio and shop called The Clay Place, featuring his signature brightly painted ceramic fish that can be used as wall hangings, serving pieces, clocks and more. And, since Naples is home to many affluent winter and year-round residents, the city also has a wealth of consignment and resale shops with incredible bargains on fine furnishings and designer clothing. There is even a collection of second hand shops that collectively make up an area called the Treasure Trail along downtown’s 10th Street in the Naples Design District. Another interesting place to shop is the gift shop at Naples Zoo, with a wide array of stuffed animals, books, games and children’s clothing. Money from some of the stuffed animals goes to support global conservation causes. Other animal and nature-themed gift shops may be found at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Nature Center, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and at Naples Botanical Garden.

 

DINING

Naples has arrived on the culinary map. Readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted Naples as one of the Top 20 Cities for Food in 2014 and 2015. Chef Fabrizio Aielli won honors with his Sea Salt Naples as one of Esquire Magazine’s Top Twenty New Restaurants of 2009, focusing on fresh and innovative cuisine. Barbatella, chef Aielli’s second downtown restaurant, serves more rustic Italian fare including wood fired pizza, roasted and smoked meats and fresh made gelato. Chef Tony Ridgway displays Southwest Florida-inspired innovation with classic touches at his Ridgway Bar and Grill in Old Naples.

 

A flurry of new restaurants is bringing some fresh perspective to the Naples dining scene. New on the area’s list of foodie finds are 7th Avenue Social, The Local, Cider Press Café, The Chapel Grill, Osteria Tulia, Bar Tulia, The Continental, Brook’s Gourmet Burgers and more. Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro, a long-time local favorite, recently moved from north Naples to Fifth Avenue South in the midst of the downtown scene.

 

Fresh seafood, including local stone crab claws caught in season between October and May, and the latest continental and fusion cuisines are abundant, along with many opportunities for café, alfresco or waterfront dining – from casual to elegant. Some of the Naples area’s top local favorites are seafood centric, including The Dock at Crayton Cove, Riverwalk and Pinchers Crab Shack in the central downtown area, the beachfront restaurants HB’s on the Gulf, the Turtle Club, Baleen and Gumbo Limbo, and Fish Restaurant at the waterfront Village on Venetian Bay.

 

For a relatively small city, Naples boasts a large number of locally owned and operated restaurants, giving the area a real ‘sense of place’ through dining, apart from many Florida cities that are dominated by popular chain restaurants. Over forty of these local restaurants belong to the Naples Originals group that regularly features special gift certificate savings and other promotions.

 

For help in getting to know the area’s culinary culture there are two guided food tours to choose from. Taste of Naples Tours offers door-to-door pick up and drop off service to some of the area’s most delicious dining spots. Naples Food Tours offers several hours worth of interesting stops at area artisan food purveyors, out of the way markets and a variety of restaurants.

 

Here’s an excellent, affordable and fun transportation options that make dining and shopping outings a lot more fun. The Naples Bay Water Shuttle takes passengers between the main shopping and dining hot spots along the Old Naples Waterfront for just $7, and includes a fun boat ride.

 

ARTS & CULTURE

Culture abounds in Naples. From theatre to dance, to its many art galleries and numerous fascinating museums, greater Naples is recognized internationally as a destination for the culturally minded. Naples was named the #1 Small Art Town in America in 2005 by author and art critic John Villani and Naples was named one of the “Top 25 Small Cities for Art” in the May 2010 issue of American Style magazine. The Baker Museum houses 15 galleries with both permanent and traveling exhibits, and the adjacent Artis―Naples brings the finest in music, theater and dance to Naples each season, including the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the Miami City Ballet. The Naples Players, recognized as one of the top community theater groups in the country, perform throughout the year at downtown Naples’ Sugden Theatre. Theatre Zone brings Broadway style professional productions to town. Gulfshore Playhouse brings quality entertainment to the Norris Center in downtown Naples. Opera Naples has an increasing number of performances. Historical museums abound, featuring information on the area’s early inhabitants, the Calusa Indians, as well as early southwest Florida pioneers. Every November is Celebrate the Arts Month in the area, which kicks off with the Naples International Film Festival.

 

 

SPAS

Relaxation is a way of life in Naples, and an abundance of spas now serve the area. These range from small to enormous in size and include: Esterra spa at Bellasera Hotel, the The Spa at Waldorf Astoria Naples; The Spa at Naples Bay Resort, The Spa on Fifth at The Inn on Fifth, Spa Terre at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, The Spa at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples (open to guests at either The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort or The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples). There is also a growing collection of day spas, medical spas and individual custom treatment practitioners in Naples apart from those at area resorts. Some of these include TruGlo Medspa offering a full range of skin, face and body solutions; and The Salt Cave, featuring walls of Himalayan pink pink crystal salt and a salt generator device that recreates the special healing microclimate of the ancient underground salt caves.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

From life at the top to accommodations for the budget-minded, Naples has an excellent array of hotels, motels and resorts. Directly on the beach you’ll find The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Edgewater Beach Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Vanderbilt Beach Resort and LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort. Naples Grande Beach Resort is connected to the beach via a boardwalk over picturesque Clam Pass. Other hotels and resorts in the area include Naples Bay Resort & Marina, the Bellasera Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Newly renovated properties include, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Bayfront Inn 5th Avenue, the Inn of Naples, the Lemon Tree Inn, The Inn on Fifth, the Red Roof Inn and the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort. Notably, The Inn on Fifth in the center of downtown Naples has recently expanded with a new luxury wing of 32 club level suites across the street from the main hotel, which also underwent an extensive renovation. .

 

Numerous medium-priced chain hotels and boutique hotels and motels provide a wealth of options for the budget minded – all within minutes of the area’s many public beaches and shopping. For a full listing of Naples area accommodations and direct online booking, visit the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades area official visitor information site, www.paradisecoast.com.

 

ON THE WATER

Whether it’s a sunset cruise aboard the Naples Princess yacht, Pure Naples’ Double Sunshine double-decker boat, or the Sweet Liberty sailboat, a nature cruise on the Gordon or Cocohatchee rivers or a private charter to either the Ten Thousand Islands or the Gulf, there is no shortage of ways to get out on the water from Naples. The area’s many bays, canals and rivers provide a network of waterways for cruising, kayaking, canoeing, fishing or relaxing. Boat tours are also a popular way to peek into the luxurious lifestyle of Naples’ wealthier residents, with elegant estates lining the waters of Naples Bay. There are so many bottlenose dolphins living in Naples Bay and the Gulf that most every boat trip includes numerous dolphin sightings. Many professional fishing guides offer private or group boat charters that allow anglers to experience the unique thrill of fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish, permit, snapper, grouper and other popular game fish species.

 

BACK TO NATURE

One of the beauties of Naples is that it is surrounded by thousands of acres of private, state and federally preserved land. Within short driving distance you can be bird watching or adventuring at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Lake Trafford in Immokalee, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Collier-Seminole State Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Picayune Strand State Forest, or Everglades National Park, with an entrance in Everglades City. Right in town you can get back to nature at popular attractions including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center, Naples Botanical Garden, Naples Marina & Excursions and Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens.

 

GETTING TO NAPLES

Getting to Naples is easy – visitors only find it difficult to leave this relaxing paradise. Southwest Florida International Airport, the region’s largest airport, is just 30 minutes to the north in Ft. Myers. If you’re driving, four exits from I-75 offer drivers entry into Naples. Exit 101 to State Road 84 leads visitors to downtown Naples. Exit 105 (Golden Gate Parkway) leads to Airport-Pulling Road, the Naples Municipal Airport and US 41. Exit 107 (Pine Ridge Road) leads you to US 41, Waterside Shops and Naples. Exit 111 (Immokalee Road) leads to North Naples and the National Audubon Society’s renowned Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – just 15 miles east. If you are driving from Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach international airports, take I-75 (Alligator Alley) to Exits 101, 105, 107 or 111. Naples can also be reached from Miami via U.S. Highway 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail.

Florida’s Paradise Coast – the Gulf Coast destination including Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and the Gulf Coast Everglades and Big Cypress wilderness areas, offers plenty that’s new and upcoming for 2016, including hotels, new restaurants, and plenty of choices for either a relaxing or an adventurous getaway.

 Hotel News

The Hyatt House Naples/Fifth Avenue on the picturesque Gordon River section of Naples Bay opened in March 2016. Naples architect Matt Kragh designed the 183-room property with an Old Florida feel with modern touches, featuring an off-white exterior plus parapets and cornices. The hotel has 3,160 sq. ft. of meeting space and a large waterfront restaurant/bar.

 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida added a new 99-room hotel in 2015 at its casino and entertainment complex in Immokalee just northeast of Naples featuring modern décor with a fresh Florida feel. The entire Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee complex is now 175,600 square feet, up from its previous total of 75,600 square feet. The casino floor expansion now totals more than 51,000 square feet, with more than 1,300 slot machines and 38 live table games. The Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee is the only gaming destination in Southwest Florida with slot machines or table games such as blackjack and baccarat. The 99-room hotel features 19 suites and 80 deluxe guestrooms on four stories, plus a swimming pool with adjacent private Seminole Chickee cabana huts. This new hotel offers and interesting and convenient lodging location for those seeking to fish for bass, crappie and bluegill at Lake Trafford or explore the natural beauty at Corkscrew Swam Santuary.

 

The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa has completed the first phase of a $250 million transformation that will ultimately result in its rebranding to the first JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in the continental U.S. The resort now has 716 newly renovated and enhanced guestrooms, new dining options, a re-imagined lobby and lots of amenities while work continues on a new resort tower. The new Kane Tiki Bar offers a retro-cool setting, an extensive menu of rums and rum-based drinks, all just steps from the pool and the beach. A new adults-only tower featuring celebrity chef driven restaurants, new meeting space, a luxurious new pool deck and much more makes its debut with the rebranding to JW Marriott on January 1, 2017.
Guests dining at the restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples enjoy greens so fresh they appear on plates within just hours of being harvested from the resort’s new onsite Grow House. The first of its kind in a resort setting, The Grow House is a re-purposed shipping container with the capacity to grow one acre of produce. The Grow House provides an extension to the work space for the culinary team at the resort and provides greens to compliment the produce brought in fresh from regional farms. Crops currently growing in The Grow House include Bibb and romaine lettuce, cilantro, arugula, spinach, cabbage and assorted micro-greens. The highly flavorful greens are served throughout the resort’s restaurants including the Italian-inspired Terrazza and =H2O+, a healthy dining café located on The Spa Deck.

 

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort and LaPlaya Golf Club announced the re-opening of the par-72 championship golf course after an extensive six-month renovation. In collaboration with the original designer, Bob Cupp, the upgrade to the 18-hole course incorporates everything from rebuilding all 18 greens and enlarging the putting greens back to their original size, the re-grassing all tee boxes (and rebuilding a number of them), as well as landscaping enhancements. LaPlaya Golf Club now offers more than 120,000 square feet of new putting surfaces, including all hotels and practice areas. The resort offers luxurious accommodations with a tropical flair located directly on Vanderbilt Beach in north Naples.

 

The Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites is renovating the hotel’s executive boardroom. Already completed in this phase of renovation is the redesign of the hotel’s pool deck, with new landscaping and accents. Also completed is an extensive remodeling of the award-winning Spa on Fifth. The full-service spa has all-new interiors and contemporary design elements. The spa’s treatment menu also received an upgrade with several new luxurious options, including the Good As Gold Facial ($145), 60-minute anti-aging treatment that includes a deep pore cleaning, exfoliation and a collagen mask infused with pure 24 karat gold. Meanwhile, the hotel’s signature restaurant Avenue5 has a new Avenue5 Wine Club, offering member’s private monthly wine tastings, opportunities to rate wines and making suggestions on pairings with menu items, and discounts on bottles of wine featured at monthly club events and any bottle wine while dining at Avenue5. Wine Club members can also attend private monthly wine tastings conducted by a variety of wine experts, including key distributors, winemakers and vineyard owners.

 

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has completed the renovation of the guest room balconies in its main Tower Building. The beachfront resort removed the brick balconies and replaced them with glass balconies in the Tower’s 90 guest room and suites. This latest renovation project follows $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements over the last few years, including a new Everglades Room ballroom, renovation of the resort’s Gulf-side meeting rooms and the expansion of the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill.

 

The Edgewater Beach Hotel recently completed a full property renovation and has also introduced a new custom-designed Serenity Suite. The Serenity Suite is a supremely comfortable luxury accommodation with custom amenities intended to create a tranquil, soothing and transformative experience. The suite offers a view of the Gulf of Mexico, is equipped with serene lighting on dimmer switches and includes exclusive features such as a PranaSleep® mattress, a NutriBullet Pro® juicer; an in-suite massage table and yoga mat; a selection of meditation, yoga and wellness CDs, DVDs and books; and complimentary set of aromatherapy lotions and oils.

 

The Naples Grande Beach Resort recently transitioned from the Waldorf Astoria Naples to the independently branded Naples Grande Beach Resort. The hotel recently completed $18 million in renovations. New guestroom décor offers a soothing, coastal inspired design and a new signature restaurant, Catch of the Pelican, featuring fresh Florida seafood.

 

The Hilton Naples has earned the Three Palm designation in the Florida Green Lodging
program administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Hilton Naples joins the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Naples as the second Three Palm designated hotel in the greater Naples area. Hilton Naples achieved the honor by showing quantifiable improvements in the hotel’s “green” efforts, including environmentally friendly practices, increasing recycling, reducing water consumption, dramatically lowering waste, and reducing natural gas and electrical usage.

Transportation News

Elite Airways initiated weekly non-stop service between Naples and Newark Liberty International Airport in 2016. Other new routes out of Naples include service to Portland, Maine, with several Midwest routes possible for 2017.


Sun Country has started weekly nonstop service between San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) and Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in south Fort Myers, Florida, which is the main airport servicing the greater Naples, Florida area. Flights operate Thursday through Sunday through August 15, 2015.

 

The Key West Express offers regular fast boat service to Key West from Marco Island. The service, previously offered only in winter and spring, is now also available through the summer months.

The Keewaydin Express is a new water shuttle offering water taxi service from a variety of Marco Island locations to Keewaydin Island’s expansive, deserted beaches, which are accessible only by boat. This express boat shuttle is dog friendly. It’s a great way to take your dog (on leash) to the only dog friendly beach in the Greater Naples/Marco Island area without having to rent your own boat.
The Naples Bay Water Shuttle provides low-cost and convenient water taxi service from multiple Old Naples Waterfront locations that are home to some of the area’s most popular restaurants and bars.

 

Salt Island Seaplanes offers flights from Naples Municipal Airport to Key West aboard a Cessna 206 amphibious seaplane from October through April. The plane takes off from Naples and then lands on the water in Key West 55 minutes later. Since the plane flies different paths than larger commercial craft, you will see areas of the Keys those flying or driving traditional routes will never see. And the on-water landing will add to your adventure while saving you the hassles of airport crowds and security. Flights are available daily except Wednesday and major holidays during the peak season of October 1 through April 30.

 

Raven Air has new direct charter service to Key West out of Marco Island Executive Airport.

 

New and Hot on the Cuisine Scene

Celebrity chef Art Smith brought a new restaurant concept to Naples in early 2016. His 1500 South waterfront restaurant is located at Naples Bay Resort and features something new and different. “I will be pairing Southern American food with what I just saw in Milan at the World’s Fair. Italian families understand the love and power of food so the pairing is perfect,” said Smith. “For Naples’ sophisticated diners this will definitely be a one of a kind menu with a lot of surprises,” Smith added. Art Smith is an acclaimed chef and was Oprah’s personal chef for more than a decade.

 

D’Amico and Partners continues to elevate the cuisine scene in Naples. The Continental American Provisions and Craft Bar is the newest addition to Third Street South in the Old Naples section of downtown. Hand cut steaks use only the finest Prime, Wagyu and Piedmontese beef and a variety of fresh seafood rounds out the menu. A 30-seat craft cocktail bar and live entertainment seven days a week has made it popular with both locals and visitors. The Lurcat Catering division of D’Amico recently opened the Fogg Café at Naples Botanical Garden, as well as taking charge of the garden’s group catering needs. Fogg Café features a creative menu using local, sustainable and seasonal products, some of which is grown right on site at the botanical garden.

 

The chic new signature restaurant at the expanded and renovated Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples is Avenue5 with executive chef David Nelson supervising the creation of approachable American cuisine prepared with the utmost care and attention to quality ingredients.

 

Downtown Naples’ Osteria Tulia, with interior design resembling an exquisitely-restored old world Italian farmhouse, established itself in its first year as one of the busiest and most popular restaurants in Naples. It’s the perfect setting for innovative peasant-style dishes from locally-popular chef Vincenzo Betulia. The new Bar Tulia gastropub next door opened in early 2015, serving chef-driven food and craft beers and cocktails nightly until midnight, providing a welcome addition to the late night dining scene.

 

Another new buzz-worthy dining hot spot in downtown Naples is 7th Avenue Social, providing delicious dining and live entertainment into the early morning hours.

 

Latin American cuisine is represented in fine fashion in the region. Masa brings an elevated level of Latin American cuisine to the north Naples local-favorite nightspot Mercato. The popular Martin Fiero Steakhouse has opened in a new location just east of downtown Naples, serving steaks and Argentinean and Uruguayan favorites. Inca’s Kitchen, La Cuisine and Gustitos Bakery offer tempting Peruvian cuisine
The Local is gaining traction serving farm and sea-to-table cuisine that is delicious, fresh, local and healthy. The Cider Press Café features a Florida-inspired, plant-based modernist cuisine. The vegetarian and vegan restaurant uses local organic produce and the latest techniques in food preparation to create a unique, sophisticated, and healthful dining experience. Cider Press Café includes a smoothie and juice bar to serve fresh ciders, smoothies, house-brewed kombuchas (fermented tea) and cocktails, all made to order from locally sourced produce and spirits. The Naples Blue Zones initiative recently certified Cider Press Café is the area’s first Blue Zones restaurant.
Plans were recently announced to begin development on a complete hospitality campus on the banks of the Cocohatchee River in north Naples. The Bay House Restaurant and The Claw Bar at Tierney’s Tavern will be folded into the new complex to be named Reverie Hall, which will also include a cooking school, boutique hotel and expansive special event space.

 

Chef Fabrizio Aielli of the popular local favorite restaurants Sea Salt and Barbatella on Third Street South in downtown Naples has just released his new cookbook with a collection of 75-plus recipes. Included are such notable dishes as Pan-Seared Black Grouper with Black Truffle Butter, Best Chicken Ever and many more as well as a number of Sea Salt signature cocktails. Barbatella is now offering a rustic Italian brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sundays and a new menu of creative craft cocktails.
Attraction News

Naples Botanical Garden recently added the new Eleanor and Nicholas Chabraja Visitor Center and three new gardens: the LaGrippe Orchid Garden, Irma’s Garden and Kathryn’s Garden, all designed by famed landscape architect Raymond Jungles. A new onside food and beverage option, Fogg Café, is led by the culinary team at Lurcat Catering and uses a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs grown right at the garden.

 

A clay shooting aficionado from the U.K., Collin Burrows, has opened Gulf Coast Clays after purchasing the former Port of the Islands Gun Club, located halfway between Naples and Everglades City. The club features a 15-station sporting clay course in the beautiful outdoors setting surrounded by the western Everglades wilderness, as well as skeet and trap.

 

Visitors can enjoy free ranger-led activities at Everglades National Park’s Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City and at Big Cypress National Preserve from December through March. Advance reservations are all that is required. This is a great way to be introduced to the unique Everglades wilderness during 2016, the Centennial for the U.S. National Park Service.

 

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a 13,000-acre preserve that is home to the largest stand of old-growth bald cypress in North America. A 2.25-mile boardwalk weaves through this ancient bald cypress forest and other habitats including pond cypress, wet prairie, and marsh. Free guided nature walks are now available by signing up at the admission desk.

 

Kayaking in the Gulf Coast Everglades is popular year round, but winter and spring are the peak seasons for overnight camping and paddling excursions. Everglades Area Tours’ popular Base Camp Kayak Tours include two, three, four and five-day excursions. Camp sites are on deserted white sand beaches within Everglades National Park and guides provide campfire-cooked meals.

About Florida’s Paradise Coast
Whether travelers are looking for a romantic escape or family getaway, Florida’s Paradise Coast — Naples, Marco Island and the western portion of the Everglades — has an array of vacation options year-round. With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, distinctive dining, family attractions and the best of outdoor adventure, the Paradise Coast is truly a destination with it all. Located just two hours from Miami, four hours from Orlando and three hours from Tampa, the Paradise Coast is easily accessible from some of Florida’s largest cities. Travelers outside of the Sunshine State can fly into Southwest Florida International Airport, which provides nonstop service to 47 destinations on 17 different air carriers. For more information about the Paradise Coast, call 800-688-3600 or visit www.ParadiseCoast.com. Follow the destination on Twitter and Instagram @ParadiseCoast, and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheParadiseCoast.

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