I hope you like the beach. Look out your window and see it, miles of it, stretching further than any human eye can see. Stand on your balcony and smell it, the tropical scent calling you to feel the warm sand beneath your feet, to hear the subtle surf receding into the Gulf of Mexico, to taste the five-star meals that are waiting on every corner. Every one of your senses will come alive at LaPlaya Resort in Naples, the Floridian beachfront arcadia that draws you in and doesn’t let go.
A trip to LaPlaya brings with it a promise of luxury and relaxation. Lounge at one of the private poolside cabanas with a margarita in your hand, or walk down to Spa Terre, where any number of blissful treatments are available. The innocuous-looking lobby area of the spa belies what awaits behind closed doors. Guests may choose from a selection of sensual oils in the mood-lit massage rooms before lying down and receiving treatments like the Balinese Massage—a gentle, rhythmic procedure that washes away every ounce of stress and fatigue that may have stowed away on your plane ride down.
Meals at LaPlaya play out like taste bud roller coaster rides. The menu at Baleen, the hotel’s signature restaurant, is loaded with dips and corkscrews. Begin with an appetizer of baked oysters Rockefeller, steamed mussels in a Thai-coconut ginger broth, or a rare tuna tataki on a bed of mushroom salad. Move on to a meal of Chinese fried snapper and coconut rice, Roquefort crusted filet mignon in a red wine sauce, or roasted grouper in a garlic-caper sauce. Order one of Baleen’s fine bottles of wine to complement the meal, then enjoy Baleen’s award-winning key lime tartlet or the cleverly named “Monkey in the Middle,” a dark chocolate cake with a white chocolate-banana truffle center, bananas Foster ice cream, caramelized bananas, and a rum and banana caramel sauce. I’d say that you’d go bananas for this dessert, but I think you get the idea.
The wonderfully prepared dishes at Baleen spring from the talent of Executive Chef Rick Vogt. Vogt has crafted a seafood-based menu at Baleen that takes known dishes and makes them new again. Guests can enjoy his creations either inside or out, depending on if they prefer the warm Gulf breeze or the strangely captivating monkey-themed wallpaper.
Members at LaPlaya enjoy the use of a gorgeously appointed club, bar, and dining room that features five-star quality cuisine that is equal parts art and delicious. A sample from the ever-evolving menu includes snapper shabu-shabu, hearts of palm salad, a grilled New York strip steak with cilantro coriander jasmine rice, and a ginger lemon grass crčme brulee. Lest you disregard these wonderful dishes, know that I have yet to eat a better meal since returning. The balcony of the club is the perfect place for a cocktail, private conversation, and relaxation.
For those of you who have read diligently up to this point so that you could find out about LaPlaya’s golf, I won’t disappoint you. The 18-hole LaPlaya Golf Club is a spectacular exercise in golfing challenge. That’s a complicated way of saying that this course is tough. Low-handicappers that tee off from the blue tees will need every iota of their ability as they try to carry the water on LaPlaya’s first hole tee shot. Duffers like yours truly will gratefully accept the yardage deduction that the white tees provide, while still enjoying the challenge of trying to clear LaPlaya’s multiple water hazards.
Don’t let LaPlaya’s difficulty be a turn off. It’s actually a very good thing. Even in the eyes of someone that shot a 95 (and was quite happy with it!), the challenge that LaPlaya presented was never unfair. Many shots provided a thrill as I tried to avoid one of many watery deaths on my way from tee to green. Every play requires plenty of thought, as the water-lined doglegs don’t play well to students of Grip It and Rip It University. Golfers who excel in course management will never want to leave LaPlaya and its multi-option, high-risk/high-reward design.
There’s a lot more to LaPlaya than just a challenging layout. It’s a very beautiful course, filled with postcard-worthy shots. The greens are quick, but they roll perfectly. Many fairways are bordered by palm trees and flower bushes, and the calm, still water will almost soothe your nerves before you attempt a 170-yard carry to a pin that seems just out of reach.
LaPlaya gives golfers extra incentive to come experience one of Naples’ best golf courses. The Stay & Play package includes a one-night stay, a 50% discount off greens fees, and complimentary resort fees and valet service. The Golf & Sand package includes one round of golf per day, including the use of a golf cart, unlimited range balls, a complimentary beach umbrella and two beach chairs, plus accommodations and valet service. Golfers can also better their games at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, home of the most advanced golf school in America and the most popular teacher in the game.
LaPlaya has 189 beautiful rooms, 141 of which overlook the beach. Step into your room and you can’t help but notice the sliding glass door that reveals the endless seascape view. The balcony in the back is the perfect place to watch one of Naples’ famous sunrises or sunsets, but it isn’t the only place. Many rooms come equipped with a “shower window,” meaning guests can take in the view while cleaning up for a night on the town. The rooms are extremely spacious, and the beds are even softer than the fine sand that awaits outside.
Daytime activities at LaPlaya are plentiful. Rent a Jet-Ski outside on the beach, or give parasailing a try. Sip afternoon cocktails to the sound of live local music in Baleen, or tan on the beach and soak in Naples’ warm sun. LaPlaya can even arrange an Everglades expedition for adventurous guests, and the golf course is always available for play.
The nights at LaPlaya are wild. Naples is a hopping place, and the fantastic staff at LaPlaya is more than happy to organize a night on the town for you. Eat, drink, and dance the night away at the dozens of bars, clubs, and restaurants that populate Old Naples’ 5th Avenue. Other outings may include a trip to the Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex, which houses the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, site of numerous Broadway shows and stand-up comedy acts; the Naples Museum of Art, a 30,000 square-foot museum that is among the largest in Florida; and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, a nationally-recognized performance ensemble.
The best place to enjoy the night is actually right back at LaPlaya itself. “Martini Mark,”perhaps the world’s foremost martini expert, is constantly inventing exciting new concoctions for you to imbibe—his latest, the caffeinated martini, is already a hit. The mastermind mixologist can make you a delicious grape martini, chocolate martini, or the ever-popular “flirtini.” Enjoy the drinks around LaPlaya’s fire pit, the perfect place for friendly conversation and beachside stargazing.
LaPlaya is what a vacation should be—a place to relax and indulge in the sweet pleasures of life. Every meal is amazing, the temperature is ideal, and the water is inviting. Playing a round of golf on the fabulous LaPlaya Golf Course is probably the hardest work you’ll do during your stay. Like the beach? No—you’re going to love the beach.