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I had a whirlwind 24 hour trip to beautiful Naples Florida, one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S.; with the second highest proportion of millionaires per capita in America. Many ‘captains of industry’ have vacation homes in Naples.
This is a small city (pop. 338,000) with upscale shops, museums and galleries, 65 hotels, white sandy beaches and exquisite sunsets. It’s the crown jewel of Southwest Florida where you can find luxurious waterfront estates, island seclusion, tropical wilderness, boating, fishing and golf (over 70 courses).
A Decadent Sleep at Inn on Fifth
I checked into the ‘Inn on Fifth’ in the heart of Naples. I had a Deluxe Suite (just about as close to the lap-of-luxury that you can get) in the Club Level, which includes a personal concierge, secluded rooftop sundeck, and a whirlpool spa.
The property is comprised of two elegant structures – across from each other – on Fifth Avenue South. This exquisite hotel rates 4-Stars and Four Diamonds has 32 luxurious Club Level Suites in one building and 87 elegant guest rooms and suites in the other. All rooms and suites have contemporary designs, chic furnishings, luxurious bedding and a Juliet balcony or terrace. It’s hard to leave the comfort of this room.
When you stay on the club side of the property, you’re given daily access to a deluxe Continental breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening cocktails with appetizers. Now we’re not talking about ordinary food here, everything is house baked, gourmet and top of the line – that includes the bar service – premium brands.
Exploring Palatial Estates by Boat
Naples Princess Cruise docked at Tin City harbour takes guests along the waterways and Gulf of Mexico.
I had a glorious 90-minute cruise, taking in the luxury estates that line the shore and hoping to spot some dolphins. Armed with a cocktail and snack from below deck, I whiled away the afternoon – absolute perfection.
Cocktails to Swoon Over
After a quick freshen up at the hotel and a glass of champagne, I met my dinner companion, Jonell Modys, my tour guide from Naples Visitors Bureau.
We arrive at Bar Tulia, a gastro-pub, for cocktails and a little ceviche before heading to the Naples Pier; the place is lively and abuzz with clinking glasses. This rustic, Italian eatery makes their own dough, pasta, and cheeses; cure their own salumi and sausage. Their craft cocktail menu offers delicious well-concocted drinks – I tried the French 75 (Gin and Champagne). This is an excellent spot for people watching.
Florida’s Majestic Sunset on the Naples Pier
Viewing the Sunset from the Naples Pier is a must for every visitor. Locals and tourists mill around waiting for the magnificent sunset. There are always a number of fishermen honing their skills; I’m hoping to see a big catch before we move on.
Finishing the day with a Grand Dinner at Avenue5
Avenue5 is an impressive new ($3 million) restaurant on 5th Avenue at the ‘Inn on Fifth’. It’s sleek and modern with beautiful floor to ceiling glass, providing lots of natural light and some great people watching. They have excellent wait -staff and an amazing happy hour. There’s an incredible wine list with 400 varieties and two private dining rooms. Our meal curated by Executive chef Dave Nelson included: Kalbi Short Ribs Fermented black bean, ginger, grilled scallion, napa cabbage kimchi; Smoked jumbo lump crab, sweet corn relish, old-fashioned tartar; Rainbow Trout Piccata with Pistachio crust, crispy capers, artichoke heart, basil, garlic parmesan mashed potato. If that wasn’t enough we added a side of Truffle Mac & Cheese with Maine Lobster.
Naples Beach Visit
I spent an incredible couple of hours on Naples Beach, swimming and taking in the views; the hotel dropped me off and picked me up, it’s all part of their service. As you walk along the 7-mile expanse of pure white sand, you can take in the stately homes and estates that line the shore; mostly empty now as the winter season ends in April.
There are a number of access points to the beautifully maintained beach from the main roads.
Naples Botanical Gardens
Naples tropical location provides a year round choice of garden environments – Brazilian, Asian, Caribbean and of course, Floridian. Naples Botanical Gardens are simply a gorgeous place to visit, even with the 90+ degree sun beating down on me. The gardens cover over 170 acres of cultivated gardens and preservation land, representing 7 different natural habitats and ecosystems. The gardens have a wonderful balance of cultured and themed gardens with water features, and a stunning wonderful lily pond.
There’s an excellent café on grounds, where I grabbed a delicious arugula chicken salad to enjoy on my journey back to the airport.
TripAdvisor ranks Naples Botanical Garden as the #1 attraction in Naples, and I completely agree.
My time in Naples is short, but I’m definitely returning for another visit; who knows, maybe next time I’ll be invited inside one of those stately homes.
Note: My trip was organized by Naples Tourism Office and Visit Florida but all opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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