A Seaside Sanctuary
Following Sandy Footprints to Edgewater Beach Hotel
written by HEATHER KW BROWN | photos courtesy of EDGEWATER BEACH HOTEL; BAR TULIA AND OSTERIA TULIA; SWEET LIBERTY CATAMARAN
Like toes in the sand, beach destinations can sink deep into the soul. Whether it’s the sound of seagulls, breaking waves or one’s company, solace found on the shoreline often results in a resurgence of spirit. A beachside escape, for me, has never been about how much I carry to the water’s edge, but rather how much less I carry away.
All it takes is finding the right beach to settle your soul and wild idyllic, island hopping isn’t always feasible once the school year has started. This thought arrived with the presence of our cabana boy who, as if on cue, inquired into our needs. I turned to my friend who was so relaxed she could barely shake her head and t5hen mimicked her reaction in assurance that Edgewater Beach Hotel had envisioned anything we might need and rendered us as low maintenance as possible.
Home to a recent redesign that has created a sleek and sophisticated setting, Edgewater is the only all-suite hotel on the beach in Naples, Florida. Situated on 7 miles of its own white-sand beachfront, this charming respite not only has the most expansive accommodations of any in the area, it has been welcomed into Preferred Hotels’ LVX collection of distinguished luxury properties.
That said, the laid-back, unpretentious flair belies its 30 years of barefoot refinement, relying instead on greetings as warm as ocean breezes and freshly baked cookies that regularly inhabit the lobby. Further setting itself apart from most beach hotspots, Edgewater is quietly tucked into a Naples neighborhood, yet resides minutes away from high-end retail shops found on Fifth Avenue South. Complimentary transportation via electric trolley is available from the hotel into town.
Calling one of the 125 suites home for a few days was perfect for a girlfriends’ getaway. Seconds after walking through the door, we were beckoned to the balcony, where a view of the ocean and endless opportunity to slow life’s pace awaited. As two moms, our retreat was long overdue and our destination of choice was spot on. Evidence beyond our balcony exists in the Serenity Suite, a specialty suite equipped with all things tranquil, including views of the Gulf of Mexico, a PranaSleep® mattress, an in-suite massage table, yoga mat, a complimentary set of aromatherapy lotions and oils and a selection of meditation, yoga and wellness CDs, DVDs and books.
Dining at Coast, the onsite signature restaurant, proved to be yet another treat. Our ceviche appetizer, grouper and snapper entrées were almost as memorable as the view from our table. Turns out, such unexpected pleasures are precisely how Edgewater exceeds expectation. Seaside Dining, an exclusive culinary occasion that can be booked upon request October through May, is another example. This private sunset dinner at a table set by the sea includes a custom menu, butler-style service, a Champagne toast and a guaranteed return visit.
Edgewater Beach Hotel is quietly tucked into a Naples neighborhood, yet resides minutes away from high-end retail shops found on Fifth Avenue South. Complimentary transportation via electric trolley is available from the hotel into town.
Sans pets or families, our attention turned toward an in-room wine tasting, paired with cheese selections chosen by Executive Chef Bill Zimmer. Originally on board as executive chef in 2013, Zimmer was promoted to director of food and beverage in 2014 and is currently at the helm of the hotel’s entire culinary program including Coast, the pool and beach service, in-suite dining and wedding, meeting and event catering.
Though the temptation is not to venture away from Edgewater, the lone concession should be Osteria Tulia. Undoubtedly the best restaurant in Naples, the restaurant’s namesake comes compliments of its Sicilian-born chef and partner Vincenzo Betulia, who won a Best Chefs of America Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015. His dream of opening his own restaurant took many years in the industry and a single vacation with his family to Naples, where he fell in love with the area and, ultimately, secured a chef’s position in the Naples dining scene. He opened Osteria Tulia in January 2013 and neighboring Bar Tulia in December 2014.
No surprise then that the heart and soul of Osteria Tulia resides in its hand-crafted pasta dishes. Start with the warm house-made ricotta served with grilled apples, walnuts and chives or the wood-charred octopus with pickled cabbage, pine nuts, sultanas and cipollini crema, then settle in for an incredible Italian meal. The night of our reservation, the evening special included a sampling of the chef’s popular pasta dishes. Choosing to participate was a wise choice.
So too, was our decision to dive into the hotel’s Milk & Cookies Bar, which appeared in the lobby every day, complete with glass jugs of milk and containers filled with soft oatmeal, chocolate chip and sugar treats for dipping. Apparently, pampering one’s palate is all part of vacationing in Naples.
Aside from coastal cuisine and basking beachside in a luxury cabana, the property also offers bicycles for cruising nearby paths, two heated pools, kayaks, paddle boards and a friendly concierge to arrange local activities. For us, that meant a sunset sail complete with picnic and wine aboard Sweet Liberty, a beautiful 53-foot Gold Coast Yacht. As the largest sailing catamaran in Southwest Florida, the Sweet Liberty is consistently rated a top activity for locals as well as visitors to the area, with a variety of cruises to choose from such as shelling, sunset or sightseeing tours.
With picnic basket in hand, we followed the dock to the boat slip where our floating chariot, captain and crew pushed off and steered us toward the Gulf of Mexico. The round-trip cruise takes about an hour or so and provides plenty of sights, including mangroves and wildlife.
On water or beside it, we couldn’t get enough of the ocean and found ourselves gravitating back anytime we could. Staring into the expansive view at the endless horizon, I tuned into the ebb and flow of the ocean and pondered … until suddenly, it was quiet and a sense of calm conquered what had been an otherwise restless mind. Funny how the waves seem to sweep more than sand and shells out to sea, leaving room to appreciate time well spent at the water’s edge.