You’re in a swimming pool and you hear a young voice yell, “Marco . . .” What comes to mind? “Polo,” of course. But our last experience may change that expectation. Now, when we hear, “Marco . . .” we are likely to think “Island!”
We are very fond of vacationing in the Caribbean and have reviewed and will continue to review Caribbean resorts. However, on this assignment, we were looking for a resort that had a Caribbean “feel,” but was actually stateside.
Mission Accomplished: Marco Beach Ocean Resort
The most northerly of the 10,000 Everglade Islands and a paradoxical combination of sophistication and wild nature, Marco Island allows you to seek out the best of both worlds. We went for the sophistication of the all-suite hotel, Marco Beach Ocean Resort.
From anywhere to South West Florida International Airport in Ft. Myers, it’s a 45 min ride to Marco Island. You can take an $80 taxi ride or rent a car from Hertz for about the same price, get your shopping done, explore the six-mile island and then drop your car off at the Marriot office next door to Marco Beach Ocean Resort.
Travel Tip: When booking the Marco Beach ocean Resort, request the highest floor. The ceilings are much taller, and the views of the sweeping crescent beach and sunsets, are spectacular – much more so because of the regulated darkness of the Beach between May 1st and Oct. 31st. The beach is a vital habitat of the Loggerhead Sea Turtles and the law requires that room drapes be closed after 9 pm. No excessive lighting so as not to disturb their nests.
Marco Beach Ocean Resort has a heated pool (with a two-for one “happy hour”) and a private beach area with complimentary umbrellas, lounges and towels. At mid afternoon, complimentary smoothies are served to you at your umbrella location. Dolphin and Manatee watching, parasailing, wave runners, kayaks and paddleboats are available. Although beautiful, the beach is not the super soft sand you might expect. It does have a crushed-shell quality. So if you are tender-footed, make sure you bring beach or water shoes. Alternatively, you can purchase them cheaply enough at Alvin’s Island, just cattycorner from the hotel.
Travel Tip: Pick up groceries at the nearby Publix before you check in. It’s remarkable how much it offers (like Whole Foods) in the organic department – as sophisticated as any high end New York grocery store, but unlike NY, you may purchase wines, champagnes and beers. Speaking of liquors, if you want a mind-blowing experience, check out a nearby Total Wine supermarket, (www.totalwine.com) which is like a Costco or Sam’s Club for liquor. (5048 Airport Pulling Road North, Naples 239-649-4979.)
We were in room 1202, a one bedroom corner suite for romantic privacy with beautiful views day . . .
The fully stocked kitchen offers daily regular and decaf coffee/tea for its coffeemakers. Housekeeping provides shampoos, body wash, and daily amenities. Although you have a kitchen, you still have the option of ordering room service and daily breakfast delivered if you wish. We wanted to arise “whenever” without someone ringing our door with breakfast. We were able to make our own fresh coffee, drink our own fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice and fry up our own organic egg whites. In short, keep up our back-at home routine of healthy eating at breakfast and lunch so that we could indulge more in dinners out and that we did. But more about that later on.
Branka Guberina the Marco Beach Ocean Resort’s chief concierge, who arranged for our request (top floor-corner suite), golf tee times, restaurant choices, etc., was as efficient, invested, caring and personable as could be hoped for. But the “Ace of the Place” was Front Desk Manager Robert Keane, a man in whose capable hands any vacation couple/family would also hope to be. Sincere and adept at fulfilling and overseeing all of our needs, he was instrumental in upgrading us to more spacious suite which became available next door to 1201, with a larger kitchen/dining room and even more spectacular views. The expert service staff made it an easy move and a supervisor came in to give it a “white-gloved” inspection before we entered our new accommodation.
If you are a golfer, there are a number of golf courses to choose from. We went to Hammock Bay, which was a country club style golf course, but others are available. You can check with the concierge for availability and reservations.
The hotel has a fully equipped spa. We took advantage of the summer specials – a Swedish massage, customized to your preferred touch by expert Tatiania Beloshapkina.
Two restaurants you shouldn’t miss:
The Blue Heron Restaurant – Sunset over the mangroves at Johnson Bay
Over the bridge to 387 Capri Blvd., Isles of Capri, Naples, 239-394-6242 www.the-blue-heron.com
An intimate setting of just 12 tables, we can personally confirm what Zagat describes as “extraordinary to perfection for food,” which has been delighting palates for 37 years. The Blue Heron is expensive, but offers a light, less expensive menu between 5 and 7 pm from May 31 until October 31.
As an alternative to arriving by car, you can rent a boat, watch the Manatee and Dolphins, then dock and dine at the Blue Heron.
Travel Tip: Since seating is limited, reservations are a must.
Sale & Pepe at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort
The magnificent décor and grand Toulouse Lautrec Bar, with its paintings out of Florentine Museums, serves as a backdrop for native Umbrian, Chef Matarese, whose southern Italian, homemade fettucine al ragú brought tears of remembrance of our mothers’ own cooking. What a find – a romantic ambiance and brilliant cuisine. Socially refined and most knowledgeable, hostess Denise saw to it that we had an intimate dinner, highlighted with nature’s own spectacular display of a panoramic sunset. She also assigned to us the best waitress, Vessey.
At Sale & Pepe, you have the option of dining indoors, if you prefer being surrounded by art work and air-conditioning
or you can dine al fresco
and be closer to the magnificent sunsets
Travel Tip: Sale & Pepe can be pricey, but amazingly, an early bird dinner between 5-6pm is a 3 course dinner is only $29. Come back for the sunset and request to ring the traditional sunset bell, signifying the second the sun disappears below the horizon.
As you return to your suite at the end of the day, you'll find the crisp turn- down service has left mints and a decorative card with the next day's weather, sunrise and sunset times and a thought to sleep on by Victos Borge, "Laughter is the closet distance between two people." Laughter is good, but at IntimacyTravel.com, it is our goal to explore as many possibilities as we can fro attaining and maintaining closeness.
Gary de Sesa & Kita de Sesa are travel agents and owners of Gary D Travel. Contact us at 516-300-9924
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