Daytime patio dining at Baleen
As the only true beachfront, boutique resort on the Gulf Coast, the 189-room LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples is the perfect Florida meetings hotel. With gorgeous views of sweeping white sand and crisp blue cabanas facing the sunset, the hotel will leave your group revitalized post meeting.
The property is rimmed with stone lined pools, sparkling waterfalls, an expansive palapa bar, panoramic views of the splashing ocean and calming Vanderbilt Bay. During a recent trip, I stretched out on an adirondack chair and sunk my toes in the ivory grains of sand to learn more about LaPlaya’s laid back lifestyle.
“The nice thing about the resort is that it has a true beachfront location,” says Sean Mullen, chief sales/marketing officer for Noble House Hotels & Resorts. “Some resorts in Florida are set back off the water and they have different avenues to access the beach, but when you arrive in the lobby at LaPlaya, you are right on the beach.”
The lobby bar is adjacent to Baleen restaurant, a fine dining eatery with indoor/outdoor seating with marble topped tables looking out onto the water. Popular menu options include Gulf-catch ceviche, seared diver scallops, and chili-rub short ribs. There’s a 25-seat private dining room with rows of red wine bottles racked vertically up the walls that open out onto the open-air patio.
Ninety percent of group events are booked on the Gulf Lawn, located next to the flaming fire pits on Baleen’s exterior. Mullen says that planners can use this space to their advantage since there’s direct beach access.
“We create super fun beach events with cigar rollers, tropical seafood buffets and salsa dancing and steel drum music,” he says. “We’ll do whatever the planners vision is.”
Standard king rooms are located in the hotel tower, while double rooms are located in the Beach House, a few steps from the main building. The guest rooms were renovated in late 2012, upgrading some the tropical decor and amenities. The best part was the direct access to the beach from our patio. It was the perfect spot to stare out at the water and beach, sip coffee and prepare for my day.
You’ll pass a round palapa that serves icy drinks and casual bar food near the many stone rimmed pools onsite. The palapa is the main area for mixing and interaction here. I felt quite at home as I posted up in one of the chaise lounge chairs inside one of the many white cabanas with blue trim.
The 11,000-sf meeting space is located across the street from the main tower, overlooking the magnificent Vanderbilt Bay on the intracoastal. The 25,000-sf terrace outside of the conference center seats 125 for receptions and dinners. The ballroom is filled with natural light inside, dining outside in a covered environment and great views. The planners justify the value and the return. The water puts the attendees in a good frame of mind.
The resort includes the 4,500-sf SpaTerre spa, an 18-hole, Robert Cupp-designed golf course and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. The instruction facility includes a doubled-sided driving range, short-game practice facility, a separate pitching area and chipping/putting greens.
“If you want to have a meeting in Florida, you want to be outside as much as possible,” says David Martorana, director of sales. “This is the perfect spot to step outside, get energized and network between sessions in the conference center.”