Hotels: Opulence, decadence and magnificent grandeur are the only words that can truly describe the Ritz-Carlton Naples and even then it still doesn't seem to do the property justice. The hallmark of this 14-story Mediterranean-style hotel is clearly its customer service. The staff is committed to excellence and you will notice it the moment you arrive. From the valet who greets you upon arrival and whisks your car away to the friendly and helpful front desk attendants who prepare for your check-in, the service is first class.
Standard Ritz amenities certainly apply here and you'll notice it from the moment you walk in the door, including imported marble floors, antique art, Oriental rugs, along with Waterford-crystal chandeliers and its Gulf Coast beachfront location certainly can't be beat.
The hotel owns a portion of the public beach and the hotel staff is readily available to set up chairs, rent umbrellas, cabanas and boats as well as to deliver drinks and snacks. Each set of lounge chairs was accompanied by a flag that you could run up a pole for immediate service. The beach is located just a few steps from the pool area and can be accessed by taking a boardwalk across a wooded tropical area (where one alligator has been known to surface).
Be sure not to miss the elegant spa, one of the first and largest under the Ritz-Carlton brand, themed around the rose garden in the front yard. There are so many fabulous treatments to choose from, including a 50-minute Eco-Luxe body cocoon that is composed of calcium rich sea minerals, trace elements and vitamins for healthy skin. The signature Elements treatment (a Chinese astrology-based treatment) is designed to either stimulate, calm or maintain balance using essential oils mixed with seaweeds, muds, clays, floral water elixirs, massage oils and infusions. The spa also offers a "Naturally Nutritious Cooking Class" January through May once per week each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon.
The Club Level rooms (located on the highest floors, 12 and 14) are some of the best on property, offering private access to the Club Lounge that serves four food and beverage displays daily. Breakfast includes everything from coffee, tea and mimosas to fresh baked goods, salmon, bagels, fruit, yogurt, muffins, croissants, a variety of juices (be sure to try the watermelon), and warm cinnamon buns. In the afternoon, relax with a glass of wine, a sampling of cheese and crackers and perhaps some sushi out on the balcony. As you leave, don't miss the arrangement of cookies located in their own "cookie humidor," which keeps them moist and fresh.
Our room faced directly onto the Gulf, offering an encompassing view of the beach and had a beautiful balcony with table and two chairs where we enjoyed reading morning newspapers. At night, we enjoyed the cool sea breeze over a glass of wine. The turn down service staff was extremely friendly arriving between 6 to 7 p.m. for turn down. Upon return to our room, we would always fine the covers pulled down and chocolates were left behind.
Dining here is an event itself. There is something for everyone whether you are looking for a formal dinner at the property's signature seafood restaurant Artisans (the area's only AAA five-diamond restaurant), a prime steak at the beef emporium, better known as The Grill, or more casual fare at Gumbo Limbo after a day at the beach.
The 22-ounce dry aged rib eye served at the wood-paneled Grill restaurant was tender and juicy cooked on a cherrywood fired grill to enhance the steak's natural flavors. The crispy seared rainbow trout was also fabulously prepared topped with an almandine crust.
The view at Gumbo Limbo is simply amazing -- located right on the beach, there is no bad seat in the house here, offering expansive views of the Gulf and pristine white sandy beach. We stopped in for lunch but the restaurant is also open for dinner nightly. The lobster, ruby red grapefruit and arugula salad topped with a white truffle dressing was a light treat and nice break from the sun. The enormous crab cake on a jerk spiced molasses roll also had a sweet taste of mango.
There are two pools here located on either side of the pool bar/restaurant area -- one designed for adults and the other for families. Food and drink service is available directly from your chair and there is barely a need to walk, except to merely cool off. Towels and chairs are complimentary to guests on both the pool area and beach area. Just two years ago, the property also constructed a $4.5 million Beach House, a 3,000 square foot, two-story multi-use facility designed to accommodate business and leisure guests for functions.
There is also a Nature's Wonders program for families to connect with nature, including nature walks and a three-hour Eco-Sail through the mangrove islands to view sea turtles and manatees native to the area.
One last note that truly deserves mention is the nearby Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, a 295-room property located just a short drive down the street. (The Beach Resort offers a complimentary shuttle to the Golf Resort). While staying here, you can also enjoy all of the amenities the Beach Resort has to offer, including access to the fitness facility, restaurants and spa facility.
Whether you are checking in, taking a ride on the elevator, ordering a fruity cocktail by the pool or checking out, the staff here truly should be commended for not only their friendliness but also their knowledge of the property. They are truly committed to maintaining The Ritz-Carlton's name and reputation through its exemplary service.
Rates start at $1,049 for Club level guest rooms.
For LxM Kellie K. Speed