By the time March rolls around in the Northeast, I have hit real levels of sun deprivation. Sunshine is simply a must for Spring Break. Although my kids get a two-week school break, it always coincides with hockey playoffs and tryouts, putting a major damper on our travel plans. I’m lucky to get a few consecutive days laced together, but have to wait to the last minute for schedules to be posted. A family vacation in Florida is always an appealing option as it is accessible, warm, and has reasonably priced upscale hotel options compared to other destinations.
Easy Family Getaway in Florida
From the east coast, Florida is convenient for families with plenty of non-stop flights and multiple areas from which to choose. Previously, we have gone to Miami, Vero Beach, South Seas Plantation, and Manisota Beach Club, and but this year we wanted to try the Fort Meyers and Naples area so could catch some baseball spring training games.
Fort Myers airport is well served by Jet Blue and small enough that you can walk to the car rental locations. With just three weeks notice to book, many of the popular choices for the west coast were sold out. I figured I would give JetBlue Getaways a try. Not only did they have access to rooms I could not get on my own, their package was also well-priced and easy to book.
Naples: Upscale Yet Low-Key
Naples is upscale yet low-key and it’s known for great restaurants (must keep my foodie husband happy). Although the laundry list of high-end retailers in the area had me questioning whether or not it would be too “fancy,” we were pleasantly surprised by the beachy, yet elegant vibe.
The downtown Naples area reminded me a lot of La Jolla, California near San Diego. With streets lined with cute boutiques and indoor-outdoor restaurants, there’s a village feel that lent itself to after dinner strolls, delicious lattes and even an art festival. We love Naples!
Over the five days, we spent a good deal of time, soaking up the sun either poolside or on the beautiful beach. We went fishing — a favorite family vacation activity — and it was a highlight of the trip. My husband found a great captain, Hunter, who took us out in the calm intercostal waters and then out in the ocean to a reef.
We caught a ton of fish, even a 25-pound Gag Grouper. The Grouper snapped the rod as it was being pulled in, but Hunter was very skilled and brought it in by hand — crazy and fun! The boys had fun going to the Minnesota Twins Spring Training Park and Jet Blue Red Sox Park.
This 90-room, all-suite property was just what I was looking for — beachfront and not crowded. The hotel opens right onto the white sand beach, off of a fairly quiet residential street. It has a simple courtyard set-up with the hotel wrapping around its two pools.
Pools and beach: The pools are basic but pretty with outdoor food service. The highlight at the Edgewater Hotel is by far the beach with endless white sand. The waves are big enough to be fun and dolphins and kite-surfers are entertaining to watch.
Whether you choose the beach or the pool, there is no need to wake up early and reserve a chair, adding to the relaxed feel of the property. If you are looking for a water slide at the pool, you can drive two minutes over to the sister property, The Waldorf Astoria Naples and use their pool and slide. We did that a couple days, but the pool there was packed — they are not right on the beach and it’s a larger property.
At the beach, Edgewater Hotel offers rental boogie boards and water toys. You can just keep the car at the hotel and rent beach cruisers to bike to everything. The roads are quiet enough to do this with kids here.
Guest rooms: The rooms are spacious — all six of us fit comfortably in a two-bedroom suite. Appointed with beautiful linens and updated bathrooms, the rooms have a cheery feel. Although the staff is friendly, they are not plentiful.
It is important to set the correct expectation with this property, it’s a hotel, not a full-scale resort like the typical Waldorf properties (Ex. The Boca Raton Resort or The Grand Wailea). It is about half the size. Our room had a kitchen that included a microwave and refrigerator but no stove or oven. Other rooms have a full kitchen.
Next time, I would definitely step up to on ocean front room for the gorgeous sunsets. I suggest ground floor rooms for the easiest pool access, although it might get a little noisy.
Food: The food is just fair at the hotel, so we made use of the great local options. From delicious breakfast spots like First Watch and 5th Avenue Coffee Company (amazing chocolate chip cookies), to outstanding dinners at Pazzo, Nemo, Blue Provence, and Azean (At Mercado, an outdoor mall), there are plenty of choices. You definitely need dinner reservations; all the spots were very busy.
Bottom line, we loved Naples and the Edgewater is a perfect launch point for a quiet but very family-friendly holiday in Florida. We’d return in an instant!
Photos by Nancy Solomon