The Suite Green Life: Bellasera Resort – Naples, FloridaMay 27, 2011 1 Comment
Like many travelers before us, the siren song of south western Florida’s blue skies, warm ocean, and soft sandy beaches lured us to the Gulf Coast. We were touring Florida, but as a stand alone vacation destination, Naples and the beautiful Bellasera Resort condominium hotel can’t be beat. In fact, after enjoying a grand tour of Florida, we ended up adding extra days here, for the gentle swimming and the family friendly luxury of Bellasera.
Bellasera embraces the whole Neopolitan theme of this relaxed beach front community with elegant fountains, Italian architectural flourishes, and a dining menu that offers many Italian dishes. As elegant as the hotel is, it was the accommodating staff that won our hearts. Need a tour to the Everglades? No problem, we’ll give you options and set you up with your choice. Where’s the nearest grocery store? We’ll give you directions, or a ride if you don’t have a car. Need a computer? No problem, free access, take your time. We felt cosseted but not constrained; the atmosphere isn’t stuffy. We loved the fresh flowers in the lobby and the quality bath products. We also loved having our own in-unit washer dryer. No more bathing suits washed out in a bathroom sink.
The pool offers plenty of shallow space for the kids, and it’s pristine. Add in the proffered big umbrellas and comfortable loungers and you’ll have a great, relaxing afternoon. If the gulf waters are more to you’re liking but you don’t have a car or don’t feel like driving yourself the five minutes it takes to cross the street, park and hit the sea, Bellasera offers a pick up and drop off service that’s free, plus towels and umbrella set up. If you want a picnic, that too can be arranged.
And yes, there’s a spa, luxury cabanas, and a fitness center…and the “rooms” – well, they’re not rooms, which is why we extended our stay by two extra days. They’re ample suites with granite counter topped kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a full living and dining area and a screened in porch. Bellasera has one, two, and three bedroom suites, and they are all commodious.
Oh, and it’s reasonably priced, too. The practical price – the resort offers many excellent packages and special offers throughout the year was what led us to select Naples over any other Gulf destination. And we were glad we made this choice. What we got for our dollar was much more than expected: the size, modernity and spotlessness of the suite made our family really kick back and relax, which isn’t something we always get to do on a vacation – even though technically that’s the whole point of one!
But the icing on the cake for our ecologically driven family was the fact that Bellasera is a member of the Florida Green Lodging Program. So you’re helping the environment by making this luxurious choice, while you’re extending and enjoying your vacation dollars. The resort follows voluntary guidelines that Florida set up to assist in conserving natural resources and prevent air pollution. The resort practices recycling, energy and water conservation; it utilizes low flow plumbing fixtures, as well as energy-saving programmable thermostats and air filters; and uses green cleaning products and laundry detergents. So we could feel good not only about our wallets but our support for the environment, too.
We had one meal at the resort’s Zizi restaurant, a late dinner. Though technically we’d arrived just after closing, they still served us, and accommodated both our vegan and our low sodium diners with a smile. We had pasta dishes all around on the patio, with a view of the pool area and courtyard, while outside the last of a summer thunder storm lit up the sky. The rest of our time at the hotel we cooked – the well appointed kitchen led us to a very well provisioned upscale grocery chain a few minutes away.
When we finally tore ourselves away from the resort, we did explore sea island beaches and did take a thrilling air boat tour through the Everglades, which are very easy expeditions less than ninety minutes drive from the hotel. Downtown Naples, less than five minutes away, offers eclectic shops – our kids enjoyed the free ‘tastings’ of bread and oil at an olive oil store with flavors ranging from orange to garlic – and a range of moderate priced restaurants, many with pizza on the menu. There’s also the nearby Conservancy of Southwest Florida which offers up an excellent exhibit on the area’s natural history. The kids could touch snakes and alligator’s teeth. The museum also offers guided trails walks and boat tours in the Everglades.
The kids also really enjoyed the Bailey–Matthews Shell Museum in nearby Sanibel, FL. There’s a massive collection of gorgeous shells collected from the shores of both Sanibel and Captiva Island near by and those gathered from far away. We loved the massive globe pointing out the shells gathered from beaches around the world.
But our favorite destination was the beach just across the road from Bellasera, late in the afternoon, with dusky pink clouds hovering, the ocean still bath-water warm, and so many of our own shells to pick. The ocean’s detritus was our treasure. Our kids spent the late afternoon hours until full, moonlit dark called us back to the hotel, finding the lovely shells and stones, building castles in the powdery white sand, and bobbing in the delicious, nearly wave-less gulf waters.