For a quick getaway to gourmet food and gorgeous beaches, take a two-hour drive to the other coast.
After learning Naples was recently voted the nation’s happiest and healthiest city, I thought I would put the west coast metropolis—just two hours from Boca, an easy stretch across Alligator Alley—to the test. LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort fit my tall order for accommodations: low-key, quiet and comfortable with a congenial staff eager to please.
Since biking has been my latest choice of exercise, I was in luck; LaPlaya was hosting a charitable spinning event on the beach with local studio Cycle Guroo and Bikes for Tykes. The setting was spectacular—bikes arranged on the lush lawn directly facing the white sand and stunning turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With no worries of flat tires or other “mechanicals,” how could I not give this popular workout a try? For me, it was slightly more challenging than the routine I complete at my own pace (well, yes, perhaps much more difficult because the fact is I’m a slow rider). After the workout, LaPlaya’s friendly staff passed around Sunday brunch bites—blueberry-banana smoothies served in shooter glasses, chilled mimosas and more delectable choices—to participants who had clearly worked up an appetite.
Following the event, I chatted with David Martorana, LaPlaya’s director of sales and marketing. He shared that maintaining health and wellness is the resort’s new focus. This celebratory cycling event was the launch of the LaPlaya Living wellness program, which offers guests a multitude of new health-focused initiatives, including yoga on the beach, fitness classes, healthy menu items, enriching activities and experiences to promote positivity. “Happiness and satisfaction of our guests is what it’s all about,” Martorana says.
Few getaways are “ultimate,” as we say in the industry, but LaPlaya exceeded expectations. Imagine stepping onto the beach from your private guestroom and relaxing in your beach chair. Reach over the arm, and pull up your flag, letting your beach butler know you’re thirsty. After your mango mojito, you might decide it’s time for that warmed Himalayan salt stone massage, which can only be described by one adjective: exquisite. The property’s award-winning Spa Terre is a full service 4,500-square-foot spa incorporating global rituals, body indulgences and natural facial enhancements. The beach house guestrooms just had a $6 million renovation.
Barefoot dining? Yes, the property has that, too. Shoes are optional at the toes-in-the-sand dining experience at Baleens. While casual dress is accepted, the restaurant still offers a true gourmet experience. Choose between indoor and outdoor seating—overlooking the Gulf—complete with a Tiki Bar and beach fire pits.
Beyond the resort property—and probably the only reason to leave—is golf. LaPlaya Golf Course is known as the “crème de la crème of Naples golf courses” and boasts meticulously manicured greens winding around 14 lakes and water features. Although I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, I never left the resort—my golf report will be a summer goal. I was a happy camper and perfectly content to experience this west coast paradise as my reality, at least for a few days.
Baleens: Artfully created by executive chef John Sexton and chef de cuisine Robert Solis
Must taste lunch: The Crunchy Grouper Tacos include chipotle lime crema covered grouper and charred corn and black bean salsa with a side of truffle fries.
Appetizer: The Gulf Coast Ceviche & Lobster Wedge Salad—think candied bacon lobster. Can it get any yummier?
Last but not least, the entrée: Blackened Gulf Grouper prepared with a delicious king crab and charred corn truffle risotto cake (hidden message: to die for!).
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, 9891 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples / 239.597.3123 / laplayaresort.com