A charismatic city that’s oh-so-chic any time of year, Naples is west coast Florida’s prestigious answer to Palm Beach. Dining venues that delight gourmands, haute couture boutiques, championship golf courses and performing arts that please even the upper crust are as plentiful here as there. But this up-market haven also boasts the sugar-white sands and gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico. And there’s more. Each summer, Naples offers “dreams on sale.”
The allure of this city in summer is that it is literally a breeze. From navigating shops to nightclubs and languishing on the wind-swept shore, when temperatures rise, so do the opportunities. Our tastes run toward the refined, naturally beautifully and historically elegant, but we’re on a beer budget. If you can relate, read on. If you own your own jet, read on anyway. What you save on accommodations, shopping and dining, you can use to fuel your flight into Naples Municipal Airport.
An Inn-timate Getaway
Even when you live in Paradise, it’s refreshing to get away. Spend quality time alone; see new sights, meet new people; be reminded that you don’t know what you don’t know. So, on a well-timed weekend, my husband and I made the short jaunt from our beloved city of Sarasota to that of the ever-intriguing Naples. (By car, not private jet).
In the summer, people of ordinary means can freely partake of perks otherwise reserved for the rich and famous who live here. Move over, Mr. Trump, the premier address on our coast is The Inn on Fifth. And for a couple of magical days, we felt privileged to call it “home”.
Talk about first – and lasting – impressions. Upon entering the lobby, we found ourselves awash in jaw-dropping, ineffable beauty. I was speechless… and that never happens. Fine artwork adorned the walls, framed by stately marble columns, accented by an abundance of floral centerpieces. All presented with classic, European flair. The staff was far from reserved; for me, a warm, friendly welcome to this Mediterranean-styled masterpiece and otherwise daunting environ. It was at once tranquil and pulsating with artistic energy.
The artistry didn’t stop at the décor; but extended to the Inn’s epicurean offerings. Would you dare order filet mignon from an Irish Pub? I did, but only because I had first done a bit of research about McCabe’s.
Named for Phillip McCabe, the owner of the Inn on Fifth, it represents the ultimate in authenticity of design and quality of cuisine. The lunch and dinner menu combines traditional Irish fare, such as shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage with established favorites such as the aforementioned (perfectly prepared) filet mignon. A plentiful array of desserts, ales, stouts and whiskeys are accompanied by a lively blend of Irish and American music. McCabe’s is also open for breakfast and serves up a legendary Sunday brunch.
The other culinary jewel in the Inn’s crown is Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House. A semi-casual yet cosmopolitan restaurant, it’s open for dinner seven nights a week. As its name suggests, the restaurant specializes in freshly-harvested stone crabs and seafood as well as tender, juicy thick-cut steaks. It also features more than 100 wines by the glass and a reserve wine list.
Fifth at a Fraction
The Inn on Fifth is in the heart of Naples’ renowned shopping district, at the center of Fifth Avenue South. Florida’s west coast version of Rodeo Drive, this shopping hotspot is lined with a fashionable mélange of stylish boutiques, chi-chi shops and trendy galleries. As one would expect in this high-rent neighborhood, “it ain’t cheap.” Unless, of course, you happen to be visiting this city in the summer when you can expect incredible discounts on finery that would otherwise break the bank. I’d love to share with you all the treasures I unearthed on my austere budget… but that’s another story for another time. I will say that, besides the great finds, what made the experience all the more exceptional was the dearth of other shoppers. The streets were quiet; the shop-owners attentive – perhaps grateful for any scant traffic. All the better for bargaining.
As you Wish
Besides boasting a serendipitous location for shoppers and aficionados of art, the Inn offers a host of amenities, including state-of-the-art fitness center, full-service spa, golf privileges and our fave, a sprawling rooftop swimming pool and hot tub. And, the beach is a heartbeat away. If you don’t happen to have your own transportation in tow, the city offers complimentary trolley service to the beach as well as around town.
How often have you read or heard about the beauty of Southwest Florida’s shores? Chances are, a lot. They are among the top-rated in the world and Naples is no exception. Especially in the summer, when it’s quite possible you’ll be flanked only by seabirds while sipping that pina colada at water’s edge.
Steamy Starlit Nights
Naples holds a complimentary weekly summer concert series, and luckily, our visit coincided with the very last event of the season. Held under the stars at Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club – again, a minute away by car or trolley – it was one of the many highlights of this short, dream-like getaway. We learned about the concerts while perusing the Inn on Fifth’s website, which provides a wealth of pertinent information about the area.
The musicians, the music, the mood – the visitors from all over the country and the world who shared our sensibilities, from smooth jazz to hip-hop to blues – it was all red-hot. Just like a Southwest Florida sunset. Which, by the way, is also presented free of charge.