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What's New for 2009-2010 on the Paradise Coast
May 28, 2009
The latest news on what's new with hotels, attractions, events, spas, restaurants and more.
USA: JoNell Modys, email@example.com, 239-252-2425
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What’s New for 2009/2010 on Southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast
Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades
Naples, Fla. (May 28, 2009) – The vibrant communities of Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City, Immokalee, and Ave Maria comprise the Paradise Coast region of Southwest Florida. The area ranges between over 30 miles of white sand beaches, along with natural mangrove coastal areas, to vast expanses of pristine inland wilderness preserved as park or conservation land, with vibrant and growing urban areas in between. If you haven’t visited the area recently there is plenty to explore that’s new since your last visit.
For more information on where to stay, things to do and information about visiting the Paradise Coast, visit the convention and visitor’s bureau’s official visitor information Web site, www.ParadiseCoast.com, or call 1-800-688-3600 for a free visitors guide. From outside the United States, call 1-239-225-1013.
Getting Here & Getting Around
Air service is available to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Ft. Myers just north of Naples via most major air carriers. Air Berlin offers direct service between Ft. Myers and Dusseldorf with an increase from three to four weekly flights to RSW effective June 28, 2009. The flights will be operated on the A330 aircraft, which features a new business class product with luxurious leather seats and elegant in-flight amenities.
Vision Air will begin daily service from Naples Municipal Airport to Miami and Atlanta beginning November 2009.
A new Airport to Hotel shuttle service is available for $30 per person from Southwest Florida International Airport to greater Naples area hotels from Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planning. Call 239-262-3006 or fill out their online form to reserve in advance. For visitors flying in to Miami it is a two hour drive and from Orlando a four hour drive to reach the area.
How to Save in 2009
The Paradise Coast Values in Paradise VIP card is available May 1 through December 15, 2009 and offers visitors thousands of dollars in savings at participating restaurants, attractions, and shops. Some of the savings for 2009 will include attraction discounts, buy-one-get-one-free or half-off offers and other discounts and deals. The VIP card is free to all visitors, can be used immediately upon arrival, and is easily found at four convenient visitor centre locations: the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Naples Association Visitors Center, Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Everglades Area Chamber of Commerce.
Many visitors are aware of the beauty and upscale amenities in the Naples area, along with the many luxury hotels and resorts but might not be aware that some lower cost accommodations put visitors in the middle of the scene at lower rates. Visitors that would like to take in the atmosphere on a budget have some excellent choices. Several hotels offer value-priced rates that leave plenty of room in your travel budget to splurge on dining, spa treatments, shopping or fishing and eco excursions.
New and Updated Attractions
Naples Botanical Garden is in the process of creating a world-class tropical garden paradise that will include cultivated gardens of Brazil, the Caribbean, and a hands-on interactive Children’s Garden along with 90 acres of beautifully restored natural habitats. The Garden will open to the public in November 2009. Starting January 2010, Naples Botanical Garden will be available as a venue for meetings, conferences, receptions and dinners. The lush backdrop of the beautiful Garden with vibrantly colored flowers makes a picturesque tropical paradise backdrop, all just ten minutes from downtown Naples. The newly remodeled Windstar Garden Room, a 4,000 square foot air-conditioned space, can accommodate up to 125 guests. Also available is The Garden Lecture Room that can accommodate up to 60 guests www.naplesgarden.org
Adventure Training Concepts is an adventure-based team training facility utilizing authentic U.S. Army strategies to facilitate curriculum-based training, team spirit, fitness and bonding experiences for corporate, youth and other groups. ATC now has a public ropes course and training facility located near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary between Naples and Immokalee, and also stages various event scenarios throughout the surrounding area. Indiana Jones and Survivor themed-events are growing in popularity. www.adventuretrainingconcepts.com.
Seminole Casino Immokalee has undergone a 35,000 sq. ft. expansion that includes additional gaming, dining and nightlife to the attraction. New gaming options in place now include blackjack, several varieties of poker and Las Vegas-style slot machines. www.theseminolecasino.com
Big Cypress Market Place, an upscale, air-conditioned flea market with a winery, Tiki bar, produce market, Expo Center for home, antique and car shows, and a 2-level food court with an entertainment center, all decorated in a historical Everglades theme, is now open. The market place is located just east of Naples on the Tamiami Trail and is already proving to be a popular shopping and entertainment destination for locals, visitors and groups. www.naplesbigcypress.com
Sea Excursions is now offering their —dolphin experience” cruise aboard the Dolphin Explorer out of Port O Call marina in Naples as well as out of Marco River Marina on Marco Island. Guests volunteer as citizen scientist dolphin researchers during the sightseeing cruise. Lead by dolphin researchers, passengers participate in the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project, a 5-year scientific research study to identify and track the movements of resident dolphins in the Marco Island and Naples areas. Children may complete tasks onboard that earn them entry into the Dolphin Explorer’s Club, with a survey patch, newsletter and follow-up activities for after you
return home from vacation. Group team experiences are available with advance notice, as are more intensive full day volunteer experiences. www.dolphin-explorer.com
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, a classic area attraction that has recently become a non-profit zoo, is the only zoo in the Southeastern United States to exhibit the fosa, a rare predator from Madagascar. Naples Zoo also has a large population of Madagascar lemurs, the main prey for the fosa. Of course, the Naples Zoo lemurs will be safe from the fosa, which will be visible through a glass pane while they stalk their rocky habitat. Other new state-of-the-art exhibits include Black Bear Hammock, the largest black bear exhibit at an Association of Zoos & Aquariums accredited zoo east of the Mississippi, with Florida black bears. Leopard Rock features a floor to ceiling glass window that allows visitors to get eye to eye with the carnivorous cats. Newly paved pathways provide ease of passage for walkers and strollers through the zoo’s old growth botanical garden environment. Visitors continue to enjoy the unique primate expedition cruise, a boat ride to view the cage-free island homes of the zoo’s many primate species. www.napleszoo.com
Saltwater Sports recently opened new kayak launch and rental locations at Little Bar Restaurant in the village of Goodland on Marco Island and in Naples at the Village on Venetian Bay. www.saltwatersportsflorida.com.
Everglades Area Tours is now headquartered at JT’s Island Cafe & Gallery on Chokoloskee Island. They have added multi-day kayak fishing/camping tours in the Everglades, along with sunset and full moon paddling tours, as well as half day and full day motorboat assisted kayak eco tours and fishing excursions. www.evergladesareatours.com.
Everglades Rentals & Eco Adventures, the guide service operating out of the Ivey House B&B in Everglades City, now offers guided canoe and kayak adventures year round. www.iveyhouse.com
You And A Kayak is a kayak guide service providing customized tours departing from City Seafood restaurant in Everglades City. Half day, full day and multi day trips are offered at all skill levels with extensive interpretation of the natural environment. Two of the more unique trips are the Cowgirl Kayaks half and full day trips for women, along with the women-only Cowgirl Kayakers Camping expedition, with all equipment and instruction supplied for a 2-day, 1-night camping and kayaking adventure. www.YouAndAKayak.com.
Opening in 2010, C’MON, the Children’s Museum of Naples will be an inspiring environment where children and their families play, learn and dream together. Under construction at North Collier Regional Park in Naples, the 30,000 sq. ft. Children’s Museum of Naples will feature ten spectacularly designed, child-scaled exhibits to invite sensory and intellectual exploration. Children’s museum specialist Mary Sinker and acclaimed exhibit designer Jack Rouse Associates conceived each exhibit as a model of three interrelated principles: an appreciation of children’s play behavior, knowledge of how an environment can influence play and learning, and an understanding of children’s developmental milestones. These three core beliefs enabled them to transform the learning landscape so that serious learning looks like play… for those who know how to look. www.cmon.org
The Naples International Film Festival has announced the location of the inaugural film festival event, to be held Nov. 5-8 at the new Silverspot Luxury Cinemas, opening in summer 2009 in Naples. For four days, NIFF will showcase the extraordinary on Silverspot’s screens, showing the finest films, shorts, and documentaries from around the world, with a special focus on Southwest Florida’s filmmakers. Silverspot will offer NIFF attendees and moviegoers the finest cinematic accommodations, and will also host a number of events, galas and award ceremonies surrounding the international festival event. The Naples International Film Festival will be holding weekly pre-screenings leading up to the November festival. Every Thursday at 7 p.m, at Six Degrees Exhibitions in Naples the community can join the judging committee to see and rate films in consideration for the festival. Discussion with the judging panel and local filmmakers, actors and directors follows each film.
The Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa has a new luxury destination spa offering full service spa treatments including massage therapy, skin care, body treatments, hair and nails and a retail boutique. The 10,000 square foot spa has 10 treatment rooms and also includes a state of the art fitness center. www.hiltonmarcoisland.com
Bellasera Hotel in downtown Naples opened Verde, a new environmentally friendly spa in 2008. This exquisitely intimate space boasts 100% organic products. Massage services include Swedish massage, Bamboosage, Hot Stones, Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy and Thai Yoga massage. Skin care is customized to fit the client’s needs using fruit-based, organic products. Nail care features vegan nail polishes, fruit-based products for scrubs, and a heated soy bath for hands and feet. www.bellaseranaples.com
The new SpringHill Suites Marriott Naples opened in November 2008. The 102-suite hotel is located just off I-75 at Collier Blvd. (Exit 101), the gateway to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades. The SpringHill Suites Marriott features all studio suites, a complimentary hot breakfast buffet, free high speed Internet, a 24-hour business center, a 24-hour snack shop, a guest fitness center and a guest laundry room.
The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort is an 85-room hotel that opened in 2008, part of the new Naples Bay Resort mixed use development on the Gordon River and Naples Bay with direct
access to the Gulf of Mexico. Naples Bay Resort also includes condos, a spa, vacation cottages, a marina, the Olio on Naples Bay and Bonefish Grill restaurants and shopping. Starting in winter 2009 the resort hosts free entertainment on Wednesday evenings with opera and other musical entertainment, gondola rides and more. www.naplesbayresort.com
The area north of downtown Naples continues to expand. Waterside Shops at Pelican Bay welcomed a new Nordstrom’s department store and a newly expanded Saks Fifth Avenue. The contemporary German fashion house Basler opened its first boutique in the United States at Waterside. Other new shops include Kate Spade, De Beers, Juicy Couture, Van Cleef & Arpels and Salvatore Ferragamo. www.watersideshops.com
Also in North Naples, the new Mercato development continues to welcome new restaurants and shops, including the Whole Foods natural and organic market, Capital Grille, AZN, McCormick & Schmick’s seafood and The Pub, an authentic English Pub. A new movie theater, Silverspot Luxury Cinema, opens in 2009 featuring independent and art films along with general release movies. www.mercatonaples.com
Hotels Going Green in Collier County
Hotels along the Paradise Coast continue to achieve designation as Green Lodgings by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Fourteen hotels have received their official Green Lodging designation to date with two properties, the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa and Hilton Naples having just achieved the Two Palm designation due to their elevated level of conservation and other green initiatives. The Florida Green Lodgings in the region are:
Naples area: Hilton Naples; the Doubletree Guest Suites Naples; Bellasera Hotel; Inn at Pelican Bay; Naples Grande Beach Resort; The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, Hawthorn Suites of Naples, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Courtyard by
Marriott Naples and GreenLinks Golf Resort & Conference Center. Marco Island: Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa and Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa. Everglades City: Ivey House Bed & Breakfast. Several of the hotels have initiated innovative practices to conserve energy. Hilton Naples has planted a rooftop Confederate jasmine vine garden atop its ballroom, to reduce heat absorption. The DoubleTree Guest Suites Naples has a designated parking space for hybrid vehicles right outside the front door.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort has just debuted $6 million worth of new venues and enhancements. vue, or Virtual User Experience, is a state-of-the-art interactive entertainment lounge featuring all of the latest and most popular interactive virtual-reality games played via consoles hooked up to 40” LCD TVs, from Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite® game stations with wireless controllers, to Sony Playstation 3 and the latest from Nintendo Wii. In addition, vue boasts a 63”
LCD with Blu-ray player controlled via remote touchpad and a top-of-the-line Bang and Olufsen surround sound system. The new Sushi Bar features a stunning 150-gallon fish tank. The tropical ambiance of the Gulf-front Gumbo Limbo casual restaurant was enhanced by the addition of a roofed area and an expanded boardwalk. The Sand Bar opened with a hip Tiki roof, a
specially hand-carved wooden bar and unique cypress-stump chairs for guest to enjoy spectacular Gulf of Mexico views and tropical beverages. Nature’s Wonders offers children an interactive sanctuary complete with eleven aquariums including two touch tanks and a lab complete with microscopes. The Poolside Café has a recently added roof for a shaded, cooler experience to accompany its light fare menu, full bar and six new HD TV’s. The Beach House is a two-story, multi-purpose facility located overlooking the beach, the perfect setting for weddings and corporate and social events. The resorts traditional Lobby Lounge has been updated with elegant hardwood flooring and new furnishings. www.ritzcarlton.com
The Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort recently renovated guestrooms and meeting space and now has a luxurious new 10,000 sq. ft. spa. www.hiltonmarcoisland.com
The Local Restaurant Scene Continues To Expand:
Sea Salt opened in late 2008, bringing a fresh new dining choice to the Third Street South area. Chef Fabrizio Aielli, a former Naples Winter Wine Festival celebrity chef, is inspired by the Southwest Florida seafood repertoire and uses organic and local produce, wild caught seafood, poultry and meat raised naturally along with fresh and seasonal ingredients. www.seasaltnaples.com
Always on the culinary cutting-edge, Naples Tomato is the first Florida restaurant to introduce the —mozzarella bar,” a cheese tasting concept already popular in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and throughout Europe. Originating in Rome at the famed Obiká restaurant four years ago, the mozzarella bar was made popular in the U.S. by renowned chefs Mario Batali and Nancy Silverstein at their L.A. restaurant, Osteria Mozza, and other restaurateurs in major metropolitan areas have followed suit by offering the creamy dairy concoction as a menu mainstay. The mozzarella cheese tasting concept is the same as with Naples Tomato’s approach to wine in that several varieties are available in small portions, which allow the taster to compare flavor, texture and style. Naples Tomato offers five mozzarella choices The daily selections feature a combination of Italian and homemade cheeses, consisting of cows’ milk, buffalo milk and burrata.
The mozzarella bar also includes antipasto accompaniments such as sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, marinated mushrooms, roasted eggplant, cherry tomatoes with pesto, and Italian meats.
Naples Tomato was also the first restaurant in Florida to install the Enomatic self-serve wine-by-the-glass system, where 350 vintages rotate in the 48-bottle wine tasting system. Recently added is the addition of a single malt scotch tasting station. The restaurant serves excellent Neapolitan Italian cuisine prepared with fresh, locally grown produce, fresh seafood and more. In 2008, the restaurant doubled in size with new indoor and patio dining areas and added a full
liquor license. They now feature martinis with fresh muddled seasonal fruits and a full bar along with a large selection of fine wines. www.naplestomato.com.
A taste of Napa Valley has arrived on the Gulf Coast with Olio on Naples Bay at Naples Bay Resort, which opened February 28, 2008. The menu blends simple Italian flavors with inspiration from California wine country in a contemporary and casual setting with waterfront views and both indoor and outdoor seating. Under the direction of Chef Frank Whittaker, Olio guests can expect heirloom ingredients and regional produce creatively paired with grilled meats and poultry, and the freshest local seafood. www.naplesbayresort.com
M Waterfront Grill is now serving at the Village on Venetian Bay, specializing in cutting edge continental cuisine utilizing fresh and organic ingredients, all with a beautiful view of Naples Bay. www.mwaterfrontgrille.com
The Capital Grille’s first Southwest Florida location has opened in the Mercato development, a center for upscale condominium homes, retail, restaurants and entertainment. Also new at Mercato are AZN pan-Asian restaurant and The Pub at the Mercato, an authentic English Pub. www.mercatonaples.com.
Naples Originals is an organization of locally-owned, non-chain restaurants that lend an air of uniqueness and authenticity to the Naples dining experience. Naples Originals restaurants hold restaurant weeks the third week of each month between May and October 2009 featuring 3-course fixed price meals. To find a member restaurant, log on to www.naplesoriginals.com.
For more information on Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – The Paradise Coast, call 1-800-688-3600 for a free visitors guide or go at the area’s official visitor information Web site, www.ParadiseCoast.com.