LaPlaya Beach Resort

Naples, Florida

Naples still offers a glamorous, beautiful and romantic Florida of yesteryear that has mostly disappeared in the South. Its Vanderbilt Beach matches anything the Caribbean has to offer, and the prime real estate on that wide expanse of fine sand is home to the old world charm of LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort.

The drive to LaPlaya from Ft. Myers airport is a soft breeze in anticipation of a visit to one of the star properties in the Nobel House Collection. My room, like most at the boutique resort, had incredible water views. When I looked out my window, there was nothing but Gulf of Mexico with a picturesque adornment of pelicans and a group of dolphins cruising by about 150 feet offshore. Relaxation is instantaneous.

It’s a delight to walk on the beach every day! Then pick your chaise and umbrella and the accommodating but never underfoot staff will deliver whatever you need. I did pry myself away from the beach late one afternoon to play a little golf.

The championship course designed by master architect Bob Cupp is a favorite around Naples and has just recently undergone an extensive and perfect renovation. In addition, there is a David Leadbetter Golf Academy on site, available for world class instruction.

Perhaps the most special experience I had at LaPlaya was dinner at Baleen, an exceptional restaurant with a view of the sun setting into the Gulf. I will wax rhapsodic about the lobster and lamb gnocchi for the rest of my days.

One more thing worthy of mention is the reward for thinking “green” and eschewing maid service for a day—a five dollar credit at any of the restaurants and bars. LaPlaya has it all figured out.