Baby, it’s cold outside. Sounds like a good time for a Neapolitan holiday of the South Florida sort. In Naples, season always brings a flurry of new hot spots. Marissa Collections invites locals and visitors alike to peruse some of our favorite places, plus the chic fashions to wear to them.
Bunk by the Beach:
Following an $18-million renovation to the former Waldorf-Astoria, Naples Grande launched with a more contemporary concept for the 474-room resort, including nearly 80 suites. A slice of Miami Vice further arrives through luxury beach cabanas where champagne flows. Three heated pools are designated for family, fitness and adults-only relaxation, or grab a paddle board and hit the Gulf. After working up an appetite, dine at the hotel’s five eateries (Catch of the Pelican for Floridian fare, Rhode’s End for Mediterranean, Sunset Veranda for cocktails around fire pits). Book a treatment in the spa’s Japanese pavilions and gardens, or a round of golf at the 18-hole course designed by Rees Jones. Peter Burwash International manages 15 Har-Tru courts, while Old Florida trails appeal to nature lovers.
Hotel Escalante has been busy under Mary Brandt’s new sole ownership. Modeled after Palm Beach’s romantic Brazilian Court, the historic boutique property is midway through a makeover; some of its 10 rooms and suites have been redecorated with hardwood floors, a paler palette of dove gray and cream and unique pieces such as a bamboo kingsize bed. The Chicago brick and orchid-covered courtyard features a pool and Veranda E restaurant, which expanded to full-day menus for its Asian meets Caribbean cuisine with produce picked from the onsite, organic chef’s garden. Attendants transport guests to the beach in golf carts and set up chairs, towels and umbrellas for a day on the sand.
We’re biased of course, but Robb Report and Travel + Leisure, which named it among the World’s Best List in 2013, agree that the Ritz-Carlton, Naples is one of the brand’s best properties. Gulf views, a stunning contemporary renovation and over-the-top spa draw repeat guests. Dining options like Dusk sushi lounge, and The Grill, a glamorous, surf and turf restaurant, impress again with Bites, a hip tapas take on brunch served in the lobby. Try as many or as little of dishes like an organic poached egg atop a crabcake, fried chicken with a biscuit, shrimp cocktail and pastries. Drinks span from blended juices to bloody Marys.
In a steakhouse-saturated city, The Continental rises above for quality cuts, a gorgeous setting and live bands. Here, it’s about applewood-grilled beef—A5 Japanese wagyu, two grades of Australian wagyu, Piedmontese, and prime, natural Black Angus from Creekstone Farms. For sides, don’t miss Béarnaise-bubbling Brussels sprouts au gratin. Canadian customers can have their poutine plain or with foie gras. Finish with daily pies (apple bourbon) and soft-serve vanilla ice cream topped in salted caramel sauce. The gastro-pub section serves craft cocktails and decadent appetizers like caviar parfaits and peanut butter-infused chicken liver pate. Cast-metal cow heads, lush bougainvillea and lantern-lit cabanas for private parties create a festive atmosphere.
The Low Country lives at Naples Bay Resort through chef Charles Mereday’s eponymous fine dining destination. On his prix-fixe menus, eyes zero in on Creole shrimp swimming in Neuske’s bacon-flavored cheddar grits. Better begin on the light side with heirloom beet, goat cheese and mint salad doused in Thai basil oil. Seared black grouper and baby fennel is refreshing too. Pace yourself for sticky toffee pudding and brown butter ice cream. Drinks, such as sazeracs and real daiquiris, are by way of the French Quarter, while the wine list reveals treasures like a 1976 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux. After dinner, climb aboard the water taxi to Mereday’s Alto Live Jazz Kitchen.
Non-sharing types should stay home if invited to Lamoraga whose slogan “amo compartir” basically translates to “let’s order a bunch of tapas and go to town together.” Spanish classics are reinvented with ethnic touches like honey- and mirin-marinated eggplant sprinkled in wobiko flakes, and an Iberico roll of pork tenderloin stuffed with roasted red peppers and bacon and crowned with a dollop of chipotle sauce. The recently introduced happy hour extends to weekends—how nice is that?
The aptly named, happening HobNob is decorated with reclaimed wood, Edison light bulbs and local art works. Do as its “Eat” and “Drink” signs suggest and order Moscow mules with a twist (peach basil) and chorizo-filled sweet peppers, which have been landing more magazine covers than Kate Moss. Other hits are scallop ceviche and sea bass smothered in coconut pesto.
It isn’t exactly new, but Bha Bha is constantly adding items for its diehard patrons. The braised lamb’s top-secret dry rub is so tasty that people cancel their reservations if the dish runs out. Seafood paella goes Persian through saffron basmati rice and lamb stock dubbed “the magic brew.” Why save dessert for last when it’s a quince marmalade Napoleon with crème anglaise and mulberry syrup?
St. Tropez Home celebrates its third season by adding new collections like Ralph Lauren. The boutique has the local exclusive on Oscar de la Renta’s home line, too, from textiles to trays. Custom order bar stools in Italian leathers and load up on RabLabs’s geode coasters trimmed in metals for hostess gifts.
Adults are like kids in a candy store at BRuno gift and gadget emporium. Yes, you really do need that umbrella in a wine bottle-shaped holder and S’well water bottle in faux crocodile. Spoil grandkids with MOVA’s solar-powered globes, and the watch collector in your life with Ice and BMW’s new collaboration.
Saturday mornings mean a trip to the Third Street South Farmer’s Market. Grab a pastry and cup of coffee before browsing stands for local delicacies. Make sure to visit Inyoni’s farmer Nick for top-notch organic produce (butter lettuce, Swiss chard, baby pineapples). The one-stop shopping experience offers raw honey, cut flowers, and seafood and grass-fed beef from Florida for a fabulous dinner party—now all you need is someone to cook it.
The Hawaiian Crush cupcake frosted with strawberry buttercream at Grace & Shelly’s is worth the calories to get to its pineapple center. There are dozens of other flavors to choose from, including holiday specials. A dozen makes a great last-minute gift.
Peace Love & Little Donuts graduated from its corner in a gas station to a bona fide store on Highway 41. Old-fashioned sourdough donuts in 40+ flavors from cherry cheesecake to key lime pie to bestselling maple bacon are available until 2 p.m. Dunk them in Intelligentsia Coffee.
It’s hard to get out of Adelheidi’s Organic Sweets without sampling several gelatos considering the 20 gourmet flavors like starfruit, lavender and strawberry basil. Elevated sorbets and frozen yogurt also await to be scooped and swirled.
Stock up for your next barbecue at Johnsonville Sausage, which looked to its roots, an old-fashioned butcher shop, as inspiration for its new retail location. Beyond brats, Italian sausage and breakfast links, it sells mustard, buns, cookbooks and grilling equipment and accessories. Homesick Wisconsinites can be reunited with treats from their state courtesy of the Sheboygan Falls-based brand.
Something to Sip:
Oenophiles are pouring into Three60 Market, whose new wine program sells bottles at cost plus $3.60—yes, you read that correctly. Among 60 types are Far Niente, Silver Oak, Opus One, Cristal and Dom Perignon, as well as vineyards with Naples connections like Aril for handcrafted Syrah from Napa and Domaine Serene for pinot noir from Oregon. Don’t see what you like? They’ll custom order your request by the case.
A Michigan transplant opened Naples Beach Brewery to sate his craving for craft beer. Sip stouts, weissbiers, IPAs and more at his tasting room on Fridays and Saturdays.
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