What's New for 2018 in Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades

Renovated hotels, cultural exhibits and growing dining and cocktail and craft beer scenes tempt visitors. 

Naples, Fla. (January 2, 2018) - Renovated beach resorts top the list of what’s new to welcome visitors to the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades region of Southwest Florida in 2018. They'll enjoy spending time exploring the expanding dining and craft cocktail and beer scenes as well as special exhibits at top area attractions.

Renovated Hotels Transform Guest Experience

The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort rebranded as the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort on January 1, 2017 after a $320 million renovation that will continue through early 2018. The resort now features 716 newly renovated and enhanced guestrooms, new dining options, a reimagined lobby, and the amenities and service standards befitting a JW Marriott. Work is nearing completion on the new adults-only Lanai Tower featuring 94 new and luxurious guest rooms, a chef-driven restaurant, rooftop lounge, new meeting space featuring stunning beach and Gulf views, a luxurious new pool deck, and a virtual entertainment center. Event function space opens March 21, followed by  the opening of the virtual entertainment center in June, with guestroom openings to follow, bringing the resort’s total guestroom total to 810.

Also opening in March 2018 on the beach at Marco Island are the fully renovated and reimagined guestrooms at Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa. A full renovation project was underway prior to Hurricane Irma. Guests currently have access to the newly renovated meeting and event space and The Deck at 560 Restaurant & Bar, which is open daily for lunch and dinner with an all-day Happy Hour.

Marco Beach Ocean Resort has completed a comprehensive renovation of its one- and two-bedroom suites and has updated the resort’s Gulf Ballroom and pool furniture. The updated luxury interiors capture the essence of the boutique resort’s beachfront location in a palette of soft blues and mint greens against white and sandy-hued backdrops, with warm and washed wood tones, linen-inspired upholstery, and elegant mirror and satin nickel surfaces. Each of the resorts 77 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom suites offers a kitchenette, spacious living room and private balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico or lush garden terraces. Meanwhile, signature restaurant Sale e Pepe has once again been awarded AAA Four Diamond status. 

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort reopened to guests after an $8 million renovation when it reopened for guests on November 17after a two-month closure due to Hurricane Irma. The transformation includes luxurious new guest rooms in the Gulf Tower, a reinvigorated lobby, and a stunning new look for award-winning signature restaurant, BALEEN. The resort partnered with waldrop nichols studio, a leading luxury hospitality and interior architecture and design firm known for delivering an aesthetic enveloped in refined luxury to execute the resort’s renewal.  The newly transformed lobby reflects Naples’ abundant flora and fauna with custom artwork of hibiscus flowers and monstera leaves by Lorne Progosh of Iconic Design Concepts. The lobby features new terrazzo flooring and furnishings, custom chandeliers, decoratively painted console tables, dramatic wicker lounge seating, sculptural floor lamps by renowned London artisan Taylor Llorente, accent tables by New York’s MMaterial, an Italian-crafted Paola Lenti area rug, and outdoor accent seating by Kettal from Barcelona.

LaPlaya’s signature restaurant BALEEN now houses a four-foot wide sculpture reminiscent of a whale bone designed by Barcelona artist Sophie-Elizabeth Thompson. Famously known for Naples fine dining, the restaurant will also has new finishes of textural wicker, natural shell stone, and cerused oak paneling. The restaurant is known for its toes-in-the-sand dining experience on the beach, providing diners with the ultimate romantic setting. Guests who choose to stay in the Gulf Tower, featuring endless views of the Gulf of Mexico and private balconies to view the famous Naples sunsets, will enjoy new oversized, organic patterned area rugs, four poster beds with Floridian-patterned textiles, unique photography, and a canvas oil art collection. Well-appointed bathrooms will introduce new backlit vanity mirrors and silver trimmings throughout. 

Naples Grande Beach Resort reopened on December 15th, following a three-and-a-half-month closure due to Hurricane Irma. The independent, luxury resort had a multimillion-dollar refresh that is reflected in its guestrooms, public spaces, pools and lush outdoor landscaping. The 474-room property is set on 23 waterfront acres adjoined by a pristine 200-acre nature preserve and mangrove estuary that embodies a quintessential southwest Florida experience. Guests will find a revitalized appearance from the lobby to the top of the 18th floor, where all public spaces and tower guestrooms have been refreshed, repainted and renewed with Naples Grande signature coastal chic aesthetic. Refreshed décor and sleek, new flooring can be found throughout Aura Restaurant and the Lobby Lounge, which now has the addition of Mantra, serving inventive pan-Asian cuisine and cocktails in the evening.  Additional amenities that have been restored to their grande glory include the resort’s signature restaurant; The Catch of the Pelican, The Spa at Naples Grande, the resort’s meeting space including the premier Vista Ballroom, as well as the guest elevators throughout the property. 

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has completed a total redesign of the AAA Four-Diamond beachfront resort’s historic golf course. The redesign was done with input from golf icon and acclaimed course designer Jack Nicklaus in collaboration with noted course architect John Sanford. The course is open for public play as well as for resort guests. This major $9 million project follows $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements at the resort over the last few years. Set on 125 lush acres, complemented by seven miles of pristine white sandy beach, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is located directly on the beach with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center. 

Special Exhibits at Area’s Top Attractions

Visitors to Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens are welcomed by the pitter-patter of tiny webbed feet with the debut of Penguins in Paradise featuring four African penguins. Penguins in Paradise is a seasonal traveling exhibit on display through April 15, 2018.  This will be the first time that penguins will have ever been on exhibit at Naples Zoo. Unlike their cousins in Antarctica, this African species thrives in a subtropical climate like that of sunny Naples, Florida. The special exhibit is included in regular zoo admission. It features naturalistic rock work, ledges and irregular surfaces, and a pool for swimming. Guests will be able to learn about penguins in the wild and conservation efforts underway to help them. 

Dinosaurs inhabit Naples Botanical Garden February 17-June 3, 2018. The Dinosaurs: Back With a Roar! multi-sensory exhibit features life-sized replicas that move and growl, including an 85-foot Brachiosaurus and a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex. This dynamic and interactive dinosaur exhibit is both educational and entertaining for the entire family and is included with regular garden admission. 

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary invites visitors to experience the world-famous Corkscrew boardwalk in the evening light and participate in educational programs, interpretive exhibits, and enjoy live music in the Blair Visitor Center with several magical Corkscrew After Hours programs. Upcoming dates are February 2 with education centered on World Wetlands Day, and March 9 with education about Florida Native Plants. 

Recent Destination Awards & Accolades

Visitors to Florida’s Paradise Coast will find it easy to create a healthy and very happy vacation experience. The area has received numerous recent recognition as a top destination for health, happiness, outdoor adventure and quality of life. 

The Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee metropolitan area is ranked the #1 Happiest Healthiest City in the United States in 2017 for the second consecutive year by the Gallup-Healthways State of the American Well-Being Community Rankings.

The Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee metropolitan area is #11 in “The 25 Happiest Cities in the United States” ranking in the National Geographic/Blue Zones Index. The area is featured in the November 2017 cover story in National Geographic and in the newly published The Blue Zones of Happiness by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner.

Naples was recently named the Best Beach Town to Live In by WalletHub.com.

Naples and the surrounding metropolitan area is ranked in the “Top Ten Best Adventure Destinations in the United States” by the U.S. Tourism Quality Index.

Naples is ranked the #1 Least Polluted City in the United States by Realtor.com. 

Culinary Scene

Naples Restaurant Week is a semiannual promotion that celebrates fine dining for an affordable price in the greater Naples area. The Spring Edition kicks off May 31-June 13 with participating restaurants offering three-course prix-fixe dinner menus with special upgrades and deals starting at $25 and $35. The goal is to encourage increased traffic to the best area restaurants and to celebrate the wide array of cuisine available in the Naples area.

Taste of Naples Tours offers creative and fun all-inclusive tours focused on dining in top locally-owned restaurants and other experiences. The door-to-door tours are hosted and chauffeured in luxurious comfortable coaches. They pick you up and drop you off from your hotel, vacation rental or home.  The menu of public and customized private tours includes food and wine dining tours as well as sightseeing and shopping tours. 

The restaurant scene in Florida’s Paradise Coast continues to heat up with some exciting new restaurants that have either recently opened or that are scheduled to open in 2018. 

The newest restaurant from Vincenzo Betulia, an award-winning and locally popular chef who is a leader in the Southwest Florida culinary evolution, pays homage to turn of the century Parisian brasseries with his third Fifth Avenue restaurant, The French. Diners enjoy classic country and coastal French dishes in a bustling, vibrant atmosphere with a romantic, street-side setting. 

The family-owned Pinchers, which serves only the freshest fish, shellfish and crab from Southwest Florida waters has opened its second restaurant in Florida’s Paradise Coast. The new location is at the Marco Walk Plaza on Marco Island. The other is at Tin City on the Old Naples Waterfront. Kids 12 and under eat free at Pinchers (with a paying adult) and the restaurant offers a popular all-day-every-day happy hour special of two-for-one house wine, beer and well brand cocktails. 

True Food Kitchen, a partnership between Fox Restaurant Concepts founder Sam Fox and integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil, is now open in Naples at Waterside Shops. Inspired by the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, True Food Kitchen merges nutrient-rich ingredients with a flavor-forward menu that rotates regularly to let guests experience great-tasting ingredients at the peak of their freshness and flavor. Signature dishes include the Spaghetti Squash Casserole, Inside Out Quinoa Burger and Scottish Steelhead, in addition to flavorful and healthful bowls, pizzas and antioxidant-packed desserts.  Behind the scratch bar are fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seasonal cocktails, wine and a selection of local beers.  

Other restaurants coming soon in 2018 to Naples include Sails, featuring a menu with a northern Mediterranean flair including a raw bar and a full brunch on Sundays, located at the west end of Fifth Avenue South; and Fishers, an authentic fish and chips restaurant opening in partnership with Alan Fisher of the famed Fishers Fish & Chips in London. 

Craft cocktails are mixed and poured at area hotspots including Bar Tulia, The Continental and The Bevy in downtown Naples. At JW Marriott Marco Island signature restaurant Aria, special emphasis is placed on craft cocktails and fine wine. 

Visitors are joining locals at the area’s top spots for craft beer including Bone Hook Brewing, Naples Beach Brewery, Riptide Brewery and more. 

About Florida’s Paradise Coast
Whether travelers are looking for a romantic escape or family getaway, Florida’s Paradise Coast — Naples, Marco Island and the western portion of the Everglades — has an array of vacation options year-round. With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, distinctive dining, family attractions and the best of outdoor adventure, the Paradise Coast is truly a destination with it all. Located just two hours from Miami, four hours from Orlando and three hours from Tampa, the Paradise Coast is easily accessible from some of Florida’s largest cities. Travelers outside of the Sunshine State can fly into Southwest Florida International Airport, which provides nonstop service to 49 destinations on 15 different air carriers. For more information about the Paradise Coast, visit www.ParadiseCoast.com. Follow the destination on Twitter and Instagram @ParadiseCoast and #ParadiseCoast, and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheParadiseCoast.


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