Travel

By Erin Williams

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When you hear the word “Florida” images of scantily clad tanned women may enter your head. But if you get to the West Coast city of Naples the Ritz-Carlton shows a refined sense of ease – fully clothed! With their start to finish impeccable service and beautiful grounds, the Ritz-Carlton Naples is a welcome respite from the buzz of everyday life.

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With a recent $22 million renovation having taken place each room is even better than before and the quality shows in every detail – from luxurious bedding, to plush furniture, to Bulgari toiletries, to chocolate covered strawberries in your room upon arrival. There are 450 rooms and every one has a view of the expansive beach off the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly all have a private balcony which gives a beautiful spot for morning coffee! My Club Level Room also had a flat screen TV in the bathroom (in addition to one in the bedroom) which lets you get clean and catch up on your shows.If you’re not familiar with the Ritz-Carlton Club you MUST indulge at some point in your life. They serve (get ready!) breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, and late night coffee/dessert – it’s basically a never-ending supply of homemade treats that will have you planning your day around your meals. Also included are the service of a Club Level only concierge to help assist your every whim, complimentary cocktails, and use of a cozy library overlooking the gulf.

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If you want to explore other dining options you have seven to choose from. One of many standouts is Artisans in the Dining Room. It holds the title of being Southwest Florida’s only AAA 5 Star Restaurant – but wait, there’s more! Aside from the amazing food, Artisans features local artwork as its décor. Each diner receives an art guide in their menu detailing the work and inviting them to purchase pieces. And we’re not talking typical hotel art here – every single piece was so special and unique. It’s an incredible way to support your local artists!

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You probably wouldn’t plan on staying indoors all day in Florida and the Ritz doesn’t disappoint. Three miles of white sand beaches give ample opportunities to get sun, though you can grab a chaise lounge and umbrella Oceanside if you prefer the shade. If you want to do more than just swim parasailing, kayaking, and sailing are all other alternatives. Not a saltwater fan? Cross through the mangrove trees and find two pools (one for adults only!) and two whirlpools. To really do it up you can join the Cabana Club where you get two semi-covered lounges, fresh fruit, FIGI water, a butler (a butler for the pool!), robes, a flat panel TV with DVD player, internet, phone, magazines, and newspapers. Sign me up! For you sporty girls pop down for a game of tennis or take the shuttle to the neighboring Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort where you can play the 36-hole course, Tiberon, designed by Greg Norman. OR, hit up one of six shops to keep your calories burning – whatever workout makes more sense to you!

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Splash Pool at the Spa

One spot you cannot miss is the Spa. Run by Michelle Kelthy, who has brought the latest ideas in treatment to fruition at the Ritz, the freestanding 51,000 square foot building encloses over 30 treatment rooms, a salon, conservatory, fitness center, outdoor mineral pool, and café. After a refreshing massage (which can be performed in an outdoor cabana on cooler days) I followed Michelle’s advice and did her steam room/cold pool/hot pool/warm pool regime a few times and felt my worries melt away. Just this summer the spa also began offering Prada Beauty skincare products and treatments as a part of their menu for face and body.

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Traveling with the kiddies can sometimes make alone-time impossible, but Ritz Kids puts your mind at ease while your body is pampered. The kids play bocci and volleyball on the beach, snorkel, do arts and crafts, and go to cookouts. I found the caretakers to be warm, upbeat, and full of creativity. For a more “grown up” experience kids can be in the V.I.K. club, Very Important Kids, where they get their own key card, goody bag, a scavenger hunt, and puzzle among other fun treats.Great food, a respect for local surroundings, and cozy rooms – what more could you ask for?
For more information go to www.ritzcarlton.com

Originally published November 2006
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