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  • Writer's pictureMick Moore

Beach vacations in the time of social distancing.

We pride ourselves on being an “Olde Florida” hotel. We were founded in the 1950s before Naples - and even Florida - were fully developed with restaurants, entertainment, and shopping on every corner. In “Olde Florida”, people visited simply to enjoy the warm weather, swim in the shallow blue-green waters of the Gulf, lie on the beach, spend the day fishing, relax and enjoy the company of their travel companions. Since 1951, our hotel has been the setting for these casual and relaxed beach experiences while still keeping pace with the modern world. While the COVID-19 virus has temporarily changed our ability to dine out, shop, and gather in large groups, it has reminded us that even though much has changed since 1951, some of our best experiences harken back to simpler times. It has forced us to slow down to what is really a more classically tropical pace and to enjoy the simpler things in life.

A beach vacation on Vanderbilt Beach is one such simple pleasure. Our small boutique hotel sits on a beautiful stretch of beach, waiting for the return of guests who have become our friends and family over the years. As we wait for their return, we are pondering not only what beach vacations will look like during the time period when humans are adapting and gradually acclimating to the COVID-19 virus, but how we can provide hospitality and a safe place of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation to people who desperately need it.

If you’ve stayed with us, you know that we are well-suited to provide hospitality in this new world. Our boutique property is small with only 34 rooms. Each room has either a semi-private patio or a lanai, each with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, Vanderbilt Lagoon or our lush gardens. All of our rooms open directly to the outdoors - no long, sterile hallways - and each has a kitchen with a full size refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, pots, pans, dinnerware, glasses and utensils, and a dining table to eat on. These arrangements have always been attractive to families and budget-conscious groups who want to prepare some of their own meals in their rooms. Now, in times of social distancing, our apartment-like rooms are even more attractive because they allow guests to stock up on their own food while social distancing, tropical-style, at their beach home-away-from-home.

Our pool area is small but well-appointed. And the pool is located directly on white, sandy Vanderbilt Beach, where we are able to arrange beach chairs and umbrellas (available at no extra charge) at an appropriate distance from other guests.

Imagine having coffee on your patio each morning, then taking a dip in the pool or Gulf of Mexico and spending the day on the beach (six feet away from your neighbors) or on your patio. For lunch, fix a sandwich in your room or take food (and tropical drinks) out from our legendary Turtle Club Restaurant. When the afternoon sun is high overhead, curl up in the shade with a book or rediscover classic tropical leisure games - cards, dominos, or “Shut The Box”.

For the more adventurous, we have a private dock on the lagoon side of our property, and we will help you charter a private deep sea fishing charter with a captain. We can arrange a pick-up from our dock so that you do not have to drive anywhere! Or you may rent paddle boards or motor-powered WaveJet boards on our beach and really put some distance between yourself and others while you explore the Gulf beyond the sandbar to dive for sand dollars or chase dolphins. Cap off the afternoon with a game of tennis or pickleball on our private court.

Finally, at day’s end... pour yourself some Turtle Club rum or indulge in a glass of wine for a sunset drink and watch the sunset from the beach. As restrictions ease, continued social distancing does not have to mean extreme self-deprivation or complete isolation. Your Naples beach vacation may look a little different - but it can still be relaxing, affordable and enjoyable.

We stand ready to welcome you with our Olde Florida hospitality once social distancing restrictions are relaxed and you are ready to ease back into a beach vacation. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy and know that we will be ready when you are.

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