A luxury weekend in Naples, Florida

This post is brought to you in partnership with Visit Florida

 

Naples, Florida was the second stop on my Florida luxury road trip, after a fabulous 4 days in the Miami Beach area. I had heard about it quite a bit, but had never been before.

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Getting to Naples, Florida

In my case, I flew to Miami from London, and after spending 3 nights at the fabulous Four Seasons Surfside, we drove 2 hours and 30 minutes to the Naples area.

Actually, we made a pit stop for lunch and some excellent shopping at The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills, which are almost equidistant (but ever so slightly closer to Miami).

I was really looking forward to the drive via the Everglades Expressway and I had planned to stop and fly the drone – but we were caught in a major thunderstorm (typical of June) and that was not to be. The storm came and went and Naples welcomed us with the most gorgeous sunshine.

luxury weekend in naples florida driving from miami

 

Where I stayed in Naples, Florida

Naples is one of the most affluent towns in the USA and known to be home to some of the most expensive real estate in Florida. The houses are truly spectacular and I must confess I did not do my research well. Why? Because I felt that the hotel options did not match the destination – and if I ever go again, I will definitely look into a villa rental because I had a quick look and.. I missed out, I really did.

We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Naples at Vanderbilt Beach, which is actually 10 miles away from the centre of Naples (or Downtown Naples, as it is known). It is the best hotel in the area and the grander of all dames. It is, however, very very very tired – and having come from the Four Seasons Surfside near Miami Beach (which was probably one of the sexiest hotels I have ever stayed at, and a hotel that went straight into my Top 10, which is a big statement), I wasn’t impressed.

luxury weekend in Naples florida pier luxury hotel ritz carlton old fashioned lobby

I have no issue with an older hotel – but I honestly felt it wasn’t worth the $700+ room rate (and it really wasn’t high season in June). I had a room (at a media rate) to myself for one night and shared the second night with my friend Lauren who came in from Boston, and my friend Kirsten (who was with me in Miami) had her own room at full rate. We pay this regularly at other places – but we feel it really fell short.

luxury weekend in Naples florida pier luxury hotel ritz carlton old fashioned bar lounge

It was a big hotel and it was really busy and everyone was incredibly loud (huge contrast to our previous hotel and our following hotel in Sarasota – which was also a Ritz Carlton, but completely the opposite).

The rooms were sparse, to be kind – the beds were very comfortable, and the photos on the website looked much better than reality.

luxury weekend in Naples florida pier luxury hotel ritz carlton twin room

With regards to the bathroom, I must confess I had not seen a shower curtain in a very long time. The only positive comment I can make is that the toiletries were Asprey (which are officially on my list of hotel toiletries worth stealing – but I promise I did not.)

luxury weekend in naples florida ritz carlton beach hotel bathroom

The room, however came with a spectacular view – and the beach really is wonderful.

luxury weekend in naples florida ritz carlton beach view 3

The beach set up, however, wasn’t fabulous. I can’t show you a proper photo of the pool area (because it was really busy, with towels and people everywhere), but you can see it on the hotel website. The sun loungers looked nice but if you chose the beach, your experience would be really downgraded. And you have to pay $30 for an umbrella (on top of the daily resort fee). For those feeling nostalgic, you may recognise the beach chairs from noir Hollywood movies.

luxury weekend in Naples florida pier luxury hotel ritz carlton vanderbilt beach

 

luxury weekend in naples florida ritz carlton beach view 2

I felt the beach and the beach bar/food experience was really stripped back to basics (and again not worth the $700 plus tax). Our lunch – which was just fish tacos with a margarita.. was all served in plastic glasses and cups and containers.. and cost $200 for 3 people. With plastic menus.

I just kept thinking of Finca Cortesin, which is one of Spain’s most expensive hotels, and one we visit yearly because it truly is spectacular and how different it could be. And the Ritz Carlton in Ras-al-Khaimah which we visited earlier this year (both the desert and beach properties were amazing) – so I really wasn’t asking for much.

luxury weekend in naples florida ritz carlton beach lunch plastic glasses

On a final positive note – the bar was really nice (service was excellent and it was actually quite modern) and I had an excellent hydrafacial treatment at the spa. They cost $250 and the therapist was fantastic.

luxury weekend in Naples florida pier luxury hotel ritz carlton old fashioned spa

I have heard that a facade refurbishment is currently under way and a full renovation is planned – which is good news. And Naples deserves a true luxury hotel – and I would be glad to revisit when it is completed.

 

Where to eat and drink around Naples, Florida

If I was ‘a bit’ negative about the hotel, worry not – everything that is coming up will make up for it. We did not give ourselves as much time to explore downtown Naples as we should have. We went for dinner twice (we only had 2 days which wasn’t enough) and we felt it had more to give us!

My first dinner with Kirsten was at Ocean Prime (I know it is not a local restaurant, but it is a nice one and it had recently opened at The Inn on Fifth, which is a nice boutique hotel (we had considered staying but we really wanted the beach).

Our meal was exceptional Рwe may have gotten a bit carried away, but I love a good American steakhouse dinner which starts with dirty martinis, Alaskan king crab legs, sharing a 16 oz. rib eye and all the fabulous sides. We had corn and jalape̱o au gratin and just a tiny desert. It was our last dinner together, so we thought that the Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon was just what the doctor ordered. We may have had some cocktails afterwards Рdinner was $380 ($450 with service). But it was absolutely fantastic.

luxury weekend in naples florida steak seafood dinner ocean prime downtown naples

On our second dinner (now with Lauren), we went to Sea Salt – which was recommended by at least 10 people. We loved it – we got to see a bit more of downtown and see more ‘locals’. We did not stand out for being too young – my friend Lauren said that most ‘snow birds’ leave by Easter, so things were quite lively in June.

luxury weekend in naples florida downtown dinner seasalt

We happened to visit during Restaurant Week and having opted out of this option the night before (only because we wanted the crab legs), we had an excellent 3 course meal from a set menu for $34 each. We managed to get the bill up to $80 per person after drinks and service, which was very reasonable. I would say that without the discount, dinner would be around $120-150 per head including wine and cocktails.

 

Exploring Naples, Florida

I am saving the best for last – because I wasn’t expecting Naples to be so pretty. And we didn’t even explore the surrounding areas. The downside of a roadtrip is that you have to make quick decisions of where to go and what to do but you get a good taste for the place.

luxury weekend in naples florida downtown

We used Uber to get around and we hit the jackpot with our driver Osvaldo and his white Hummer. He took us to the restaurant on the first night (driving from the hotel to downtown Naples is around 20 minutes and costs around $17-20) and then he also picked us up to take us back to the hotel and on the second night, he drove us around Naples so we could get to see it a bit more.

And I would highly recommend anyone visiting to do the same – you can call him on +1 702 686 6259. We first went for a drive around Port Royal and its amazing houses. I selected 2 random photos for you to get an idea of what it’s like.

luxury weekend in Naples florida luxury real estate port royal luxury homes

I then understood why Naples was rather special – and why a villa rental would be the way to go (and a quick search online will lead you to rather wonderful homes).

Our next stop was the most special: Naples pier. We got there at the perfect moment – and I will never forget how beautiful it was as we got off the car and just made our way to the beach.

luxury weekend in naples florida naples beach pier sunset 2

It was my Naples moment, and I loved it. We walked down the pier and it was the opposite of other piers I had been to before. There was nothing to buy – it was spotless, everyone there was just walking around enjoying the view. It felt rather ‘pure’.

luxury weekend in naples florida naples beach pier sunset 1

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Naples – I know it is a place where many retire to (and actually I can understand why) and many feel that there isn’t much for us (in our late thirties and forties). And is wrong.

It was my ‘first’ stop in South West Florida and I am really glad we took the time to visit. I should have stayed a few more nights – as the area has a lot more to see (and some spectacular beaches to enjoy), but there is always next time.

xo

Mrs. O

 

Disclaimer and Fact Box: this trip was funded and sponsored by Visit Florida and I was able to organise the trip entirely on my own, like I normally would. My collaboration with Visit Florida also included a live social media campaign, which allowed those who follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be able to join me during the trip. I loved every minute and opinions are all mine (and I promise you, it was great). You can access the Instagram Story highlights here too.

Find out more about Florida by visiting Visit Florida‘s website – it has a good collection of resources and can help you plan your next trip. Start here for ideas on what to do and see in Miami, accommodation and shopping, of course. You can also visit the Paradise Coast website (which covers Naples, Marco Island and Everglades).

I would also recommend following Visit Florida on Instagram – it will give you a good flavour of what to expect as the state really is so diverse.

 

How to get to Naples, Florida and how much it will cost to do it Mrs. O style:

– Fly there – I flew with AA and BA in business class and fares start from £1800 direct from London Heathrow. My flight was £2750 due to the dates we chose. You can also fly to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) with a connection in major US airport. My friend Lauren was able to fly direct there from Boston with JetBlue.

– Sleep – I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Naples Beach. Rates for a double room start at $390 + tax excluding breakfast for a city view room. A twin ‘coastal’ room (with a view) with Club Level Access starts at $650/night + tax.  Valet parking costs $32 per day. 

– Getting around – I used Uber pretty much everywhere around town and also hired a car with Avis. 

 

The post A luxury weekend in Naples, Florida appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World – a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

A hotel to remember: a review of Almar Jesolo, Italy

This hotel had been on my radar for a year or so – there was something about Almar Jesolo. The promise of wellness, luxury, modern surroundings and a sandy beach in Italy appealed tremendously – as these are things that do not always go hand in hand.

I have recently stayed 3 nights as a guest of Almar Jesolo, and here is how my stay went.

 

 

 

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Getting to Almar Jesolo

Almar Jesolo is located at the Lido di Jesolo, which is a purpose-built beach resort in north-east Italy, on the Adriatic Sea close to Venice.

We flew in to Venice Marco Polo Airport with British Airways and hired a car with Avis and we drove to the hotel, which took us around 35 minutes as there was no traffic. We could have had private transfers organised by the hotel, but we wanted the freedom that comes with a car to explore the area a bit more – and read on as it really was worth it. We visited in early July, before the season really started and had no issues at all.

Lido di Jesolo is not the same as Venice Lido (Lido di Venezia), which is an island several miles to the south-west, between the Venice and the sea. Click here to see the map of the area.

 

Arrival and Check-in at Almar Jesolo

We had a very early flight, meaning we landed at around 10am local time and got to the hotel at around 11.30. We checked in very quickly but our room wasn’t ready yet as the hotel was fully booked and the previous guests hadn’t checked out.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness hotel details and view

We took the opportunity to have a much deserved coffee, have a tour of the hotel (which was really interesting) and get our bearings.

We then decided to head out for lunch and with the help of the concierge and the hotel’s PR, we had agreed on the perfect spot (and this is where the car came in handy). Bear with me and I will tell you all about it later in this article.

When we returned, our room was ready to go and our luggage was waiting for us.

 

Around the hotel

The hotel had quite an interesting layout – which took us a while to understand (but hopefully I will make it easy for you). From the photos I had seen, the hotel had beach access and was a large modern building. What I hadn’t realised is that the hotel wasn’t exactly beachfront. It was recessed a bit and in front of it there were 2 apartment buildings with pools which were private property and nothing to do with the hotel.

Access to the beach was via a walkway (and was very straightforward), but I found it a bit confusing at the beginning. It is actually quite clever how the developers achieved this.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness beach

The hotel has just under 200 rooms, a large swimming pool and a standout spa, which we got to experience properly during our stay. Decor is really modern and I really want to highlight the service which I thought was very good. Nothing was too much trouble, everyone was very helpful and in, all honesty, people seemed to be happy to work there. This is a locally owned hotel, but if you put in a big brand name next to it, they couldn’t improve it much. So yes, you are in for a treat.

 

Our suite at Almar Jesolo

We had a lovely and very spacious suite at Almar Jesolo which had something quite different: two separate full bathrooms, which isn’t normal. Had we taken 2 toothpastes, we could have experienced the room in a whole different way, but I have to say, having the option was really great.

The room was spacious and light – it came with a separate living room area, a bedroom area and, as mentioned before, two bathrooms – one with a walk-in shower and another with a full bath.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness suite living room

On the sleep front, I felt that the mattresses were too hard and the pillows too – I asked for more pillows but the problem remained. I managed to sleep, but I would have preferred a softer option – and a featherbed, which we take for granted at more international hotels. From what I gathered (and from my experience), beds are a bit harder in Southern Europe. It is the local preference but not mine!

We also had a balcony with a seating area and two sun loungers.

 

Our bathrooms at Almar Jesolo

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness suite 2 bathrooms

I had stayed in many suites with 1.5 bathrooms but not 2 and I did like that. A lot. I have to highlight the hotel’s own toiletries in XL size (which really were amazing, but weirdly there was no hair conditioner). I asked for it at the spa and they quickly gave me some.

Also worth noting – the towels weren’t white and that was certainly different. What I really liked was the heated towel rails which were turned on. It is something I have at home and love every morning (even in the Summer I get it going for an hour before we wake up), but having that at a hotel isn’t so normal. I am sure we had it elsewhere… but I actually do not remember. So Almar gets an extra point there.

 

The pool and beach at Almar Jesolo

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness swimming pool

The hotel has a pool across its width which is split in 3 – and comes with different temperatures. During our stay, we used the beach every day, as the set up was really nice. We accessed it via the walkway you can see on the photo above.

Each hotel at Lido di Jesolo has its own ‘private beach’ and the sun loungers are free for hotel guests. I really liked the ‘Italian’ sun beds with their face shade – and funnily enough, we saw them later this Summer in Malibu in California too. You have a full parasol per 2 beds and also a safe, which was a clever touch.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness beach balcony view

There is a check in point at the beach (but you can also get towels from the pool) but little else. That means no toilets – to use them, you have to walk back to the hotel. There is no easy fix to this as the hotel doesn’t own the land by the seafront. It isn’t a make or break deal, but I thought I would point it out.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness beach chairs

Next to us, there was an ‘open public beach area’, ie. with no sun loungers for rent and it was packed as you can see from the photos above. Our area was super quiet and even the waterfront was the opposite of elsewhere. I don’t know how the hotel ‘polices’ the sea, but it worked very well.

In terms of beach service, I have to say.. there was none. We really struggled to get the attention of a staff member and when we did, he did not come back with the menu. We ended up buying water from a beach seller – and we made sure we had some money with us for small things like that. As far as service is concerned, this is my only negative comment.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness beach sea

 

The Spa and Wellness Programme at Almar Jesolo

This is one of the areas where Almar Jesolo really has a differentiating product and we really were onboard with the ‘wellness’ offering.

We did Pilates daily (my husband tried for the first time and really enjoyed) and I wished there were more classes as we would have gone. We always had a space (max is 6) but I could see this getting very popular.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness gym pilates private classes

The hotel was a spectacular spa area – with hydromassage, shower therapy, hot and cold sauna and everything else you can imagine. It is free for all hotel guests to enjoy and we felt we had it all to ourselves. There were no noisy children running around and the whole experience was very enjoyable. I even had a go at the ice basket (you can see on my Instagram stories here).

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness spa

We also really enjoyed the spa treatments. I had a complimentary massage but paid for all the extra treatments I wanted – and I thought that at 90 Euros, they were so reasonable. Mr. O also really enjoyed his two massages.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness couples spa suite

 

The food and drink options at Almar Jesolo

Breakfast is included in all room rates and I thought it was excellent. I read some reviews before going stating that it was small, but I couldn’t disagree more. The buffet was great and there were loads of a la carte options as well as the usual cooked to order station.

The hotel also offered some signature breakfasts – Russian and Japanese, for example and we tried the first one, and it was really interesting. We have a daily shot of kefir at home now (we really are on a health kick) and because of the Russian breakfast the hotel had it.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness breakfast options

 

The hotel only has one restaurant, which I thought was a bit limiting when we arrived… but it actually wasn’t. The menus were completely different per meal and I have to say… it was excellent.

We had 2 lunches and 2 dinners as we went out for a dinner and the first lunch – and I have to say.. I wished we had more meals there. We tried some options from the ‘wellness’ menu and others from the naughty menu… jokes aside, it was the same menu but had some dots… we couldn’t pick the wrong thing either…

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness food restaurant

But the reason why I went to this hotel? The fruit pizza – you can see it below, or in all its glory on this Instagram post. I also had my first Hugo cocktail (a-m-a-z-i-n-g) and the one captured was only the first of many. We also had the chance to try different and local Italian wines and I cannot fault a thing. The service, the food… we loved it.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness fruit pizza

With regards to the bar… I have to say, for a fabulously designed hotel… we didn’t love it. It felt cold and a bit impersonal – and we always seemed to be the only guests there at 9.30/10pm. The cocktails were excellent, but I feel it needed a bit more atmosphere.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness bar

 

Out and about

I have 3 experiences I would like to highlight and the first one was the lunch we had on the first day. We went to a tiny restaurant in Lio Piccolo, which is around 30 minutes from the hotel. We knew we were going somewhere typical, but not to somewhere so beautiful. Whilst we did not explore Lido di Jesolo at all (could be lovely, I do not know), I loved the less developed surrounding areas.

We went to this restaurant called Al Nocturno (see Google Maps) and had the most incredible meal – the owner didn’t speak English, my Italian is appalling, but I said ‘si’ to everything he asked. Turns out it was the right answer for a bottle of prosecco to appear and 5 courses which we did not choose. It was extraordinary and a meal I will never forget. (Cost: 70 Euros for 2).

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness lio piccolo lunch

I have mentioned Venice before a few times – and yes, of course we went to Venice one evening. There are various options to get there – you could drive and then cross the bridge, but you can also go by boat.

We drove to Punta Sabbione (around 30 minutes) and then took the ferry to Venice (13 Euros return). It was straightforward on the way out, but on the way back, it seemed that the schedule was ‘optional’ – we were there 10 minutes before the scheduled time, but ended up having to wait 45 minutes for no apparent reason.

The hotel is also able to organise private transfers (taxi to dock and then private boat) – I didn’t want to be on a small boat at night returning, so we opted for the ‘BIG’ ferry. The cost would be around 350-400 Euros.

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness venice flytographer

In Venice, I happened to coincide with one of the people I admire the most: Nicole Smith, founder and CEO of Flytographer, a company many of my readers will know well as I use their services a lot when I travel. She was on a family trip with her children and we met for drinks at Gritti Palace and then had a more casual dinner at Cantina do Spade with her boys.

The end of the afternoon and evening really were great and I loved returning to Venice (I hadn’t been since we had gone on the Venice Simplon Orient Express a few years ago).

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness venice gritti palace

The third and final outing I would like to highlight was on our way to the airport. We had a late flight back to London (23.00 to be precise) and wanted to do a bit of shopping after checking out. So on our way back to the airport, we made 2 detours: one to Noventa di Piave Designer Outlets and the other to Treviso, which is a town I had heard of, but did not have a visual at all.

Turns out it was a charmer and we loved walking around the walled part of the city. We had a lovely dinner at Hosteria Due Torri which was perfect (and packed packed packed).

almar jesolo luxury hotel lido jesolo venice italy wellness treviso novenna outlet shopping

 

Final thoughts

We really really enjoyed our stay at Almar Jesolo – we felt so welcome, as if we had been before. There were 2 or 3 little things that could be improved, but the overall impression really was excellent. The weirdest thing was coming back home after 4 days in Italy with the same weight having ate all the pasta. It is how magic this place is.

We will go back.

xo

Mrs. O

 

Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was a guest of Almar Jesolo and you can probably tell that I REALLY liked it. I would absolutely recommend to my best friend.

STAY: a night at Almar Jesolo starts at 200 Euros for standard rooms and 350 Euros for suites including breakfast. We did the math and the half board programme made sense as you can order a la carte.

GET THERE: we flew with British Airways from London Gatwick on this occasion (because all flights from Heathrow were full). We paid £360 for business class return.

GET AROUND: we hired a car with Avis (class M) at a cost of £190 for 3 days. If you hire a car with Avis, ensure that they close the booking when you return the car and do not leave until you get the receipt or email. Avis Preferred worked very well on pick up.. but was disastrous on the return. They didn’t close our booking for 2 weeks… and we couldn’t pick up our car in Lisbon on our next rental. No words.

 

The post A hotel to remember: a review of Almar Jesolo, Italy appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World – a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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