Naples, Florida is a 21st-century city bathed in bright white – from the sand on its snowy beaches to the walls of its sprawling strip malls and towering condominiums. But it’s home also to a golden-brown, 14-story-tall angel called the Ritz Carlton, Naples.
Inside, this resort’s all marble and double-height windows topped by half-rounds. And while other resorts may offer the same materials, this one’s a cut above: It’s staffed by a team of self-described “ladies and gentlemen” known for their grace and manners.
Case in point: During a recent stay there, it seemed nearly everyone knew my name.
There was Elliott, the youngish concierge in the 4,000-square-foot Club Lounge, the nation’s largest. It’s on the ground floor of the brand-new Vanderbilt Tower, a 14-floor expansion overlooking a beach by the same name. Not only did Elliott pull together a charcuterie out of the club’s closed-at-3-P.M. buffet for me late Monday afternoon, he remembered my surname with the flash of a smile on Tuesday morning.
And when I strolled through DUSK, the sushi restaurant staffed by a pair of splendidly grinning, let-us-both hail-you-at-once servers, I was greeted by a nattily attired stranger with shining eyes and gleaming teeth. He called me by name too, concerned about the quality of my six o’clock cocktail in the Lobby Bar.
Very nice, I replied, then returned to my mission out to the hotel veranda, seeking an ephemeral phenomenon slated for 7:28 P.M. It was the cosmic Green Flash that sometimes explodes above the setting sun – and the haunting turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Alas, there was no flash that night. And as it turns out, these waters are not always as calm as I found them. Back on September 28, 2022 when Hurricane Ian roared into Naples, an 18-foot storm surge nearly breached the Ritz Carlton’s first floor. A renovation begun in early 2021 was delayed, and the hotel was closed. But it persevered, using the opportunity to expand renovations to guest rooms and back-of-house areas.
Nine months after Ian departed – on July 6 this year – the completely restored resort reopened. Its staff of “ladies and gentlemen,” temporarily employed at Ritz Carltons elsewhere, returned to a hotel filled once again with starstruck guests.
The renovation happened so quickly that some still refer to it as a miracle.
But of course. What else would one expect from an angel in the white city?