I am almost ashamed to admit this, but after all my years of personal travels through Florida and numerous assignments in more recent years, I had yet to venture into Naples, Florida. It was time to remedy this with a weeklong getaway at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. To have the best of both worlds, I chose to stay at the primary resort on the beach, and visit the second resort for the world-class golf associated with The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, which was less than four miles away. For me, this was a great decision as the primary resort has immediate access to the white sand beaches I had heard so much about, as well as numerous pools, bars and dining options.

And did I mention the sunsets? This seems to be a religious experience for the locals, as I was told no less than five times that sunset would be at 8:37 on the day that I arrived, and that I would want to plan my evening around being at the beach during that time. They were not wrong – it was spectacular.

It took me less than a day to wonder why in the world this was my first visit to Naples. A charming downtown area filled with more restaurants and local boutiques than I could possibly experience in a week; amazing public and private golf courses by some of the best designers in the world; locals who were inviting, friendly and eager to share their home with visitors; and the overall feeling of unpretentious luxury at every turn, including the plentiful high-end shopping centers that were overflowing with designer fashions and obtainable luxury finds – all within these shopping centers that were the cleanest I have seen in some time.

For the record, Naples is not a late night mecca, but “rolling in the sidewalks” at 9:00pm just works for this community. Like many visitors, I wanted to enjoy the days playing golf, shopping and enjoying the many beach and water sports; and then settle down with a nice glass of rosé or perhaps a mojito while watching the legendary Naples sunset. Back “home” at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, sitting on the balcony as the sun disappears into the Gulf of Mexico leaves you wanting for nothing, and only thinking that life is pretty nice here in Naples, Florida!

1. The Beach
Unique to The Ritz-Carlton Naples is the boardwalk that meanders through a natural preserve of mangroves and palms where you can enjoy the shade and observe the fish, turtles and birds that call this area home. Pass by Gumbo Limbo Beach Bar & Restaurant (great place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset) and step down into the pristine white sand. Three miles of beaches are your playground, and they also offer a number of watersports and even waverunner rentals from here. During the primary season (mid November until May 1), private beach cabanas are available, which always makes a visit to the beach that much better.

2. The Golf
Just steps from The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, you will find the exclusive Tiburón Golf Club, which is just proof of what can happen when all of the “stars” align – both 18 hole courses are designed by Greg Norman and managed by Troon Golf. The Club’s management is nearly flawless, and the staff goes above and beyond from the moment you arrive. Tiburón is home to the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship and the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout and is consistently rated among the top 20 golf facilities in Florida by Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine.

3. The Spa
I am always a fan of at least an afternoon at the spa when at a resort like The Ritz-Carlton Naples. The Salon offers a lot of treatment options for resort guests, as well as hair, nail and waxing services. There is nothing worse than getting ready for your spa treatment in small or outdated lounges, which is not the case here as the lounge area is fresh and bright. Allow time to enjoy the rejuvenating and healing steam rooms, saunas and aqua lounges, along with an outdoor mineral pool for a complete holistic experience. Make sure to plan a visit during your stay, and take time to enjoy the entire spa experience.

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4. The Gourmet Shop
While I know that it is expected that I rave about a fine dining experience or a phenomenal steak dinner (as I often do when visiting hotels and resorts), I am also a huge believer in service. The team at the unassuming Gourmet Shop was there every morning with a smile and cup of coffee; and their attention to detail and service continued to impress me during the entire stay. The coffee was nothing special, but the interactions with me and other guests are what are most important in the long run at luxury hotels and resorts. I must also mention that the cookies were amazing for an afternoon snack, and the house made gelato was divine!

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5. The Naples Community
I quickly fell in love with downtown Naples and several of the higher-end shopping areas with an impressive number of stores, restaurants and great cafés when a break was needed from too much shopping. There are several areas that I strongly suggest: Fifth Avenue South was ideal for an afternoon or evening visit since you can park your car and then walk the blocks of charming boutiques and local restaurants to see what inspires you; Third Street South is considered the birthplace of Naples and a charming area to explore; and Waterside Shops is not only incredibly clean, but has an insane amount of stores to satisfy almost anyone that is all nicely packaged into one location with some delicious dining.

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Favorite Shopping:

Favorite Dining:

BrickTop’s Restaurant http://luxegetaways.info/bricktops
A great overall restaurant experience with a good value for the quality food and service…

The French Brasserie Rustique http://luxegetaways.info/the-french
This is a great place to eat outside and enjoy the casual vibe in the heart of Fifth Street South…

Blueberry’s Diner http://luxegetaways.info/blueberrys
On the go for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this is a local’s favorite – it is not fancy, but features great daily specials and a large menu of diner favorites…