There’s a new vibe at the storied LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. Fresh from a $30 million renovation, the 189-room resort has commanded a pristine stretch of white sand beach for the past 50 years. During a recent visit, I experienced the results of the post-hurricane Irma rebuild, and learned what the resort has to offer small and medium-sized groups. “We’re really a new product, said Director of Sales & Marketing Linda Menshon.
Entering LaPlaya’s airy lobby for check-in, my first impression was one of un-stuffy elegance that felt Floridian but not barefoot beach. The tip-to-toe redesign has lightened and brightened the resort’s former aesthetic of dark woods and deep greens with modern styling and neutral hues. My beachfront guest room in the renovated Gulf Tower carried through the new look, albeit with the traditional spin of a super-comfy four-poster bed. I loved hearing the sound of the surf while sipping coffee on my balcony, and it was a treat to view the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the artfully installed glass wall by the bathroom’s soaking tub. The tower’s 70 guest rooms are well suited for a group buyout, said Menshon, adding that during peak season, the property can accommodate groups of up to 250 people, with additional guest rooms located in the resort’s adjoining Beach House. Off-season, full-property buyouts are available.
LaPlaya has a total of 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, all with views of the ocean or of Vanderbilt Bay. The 5,000-square-foot Vanderbilt Ballroom can accommodate up to 380 people for a banquet, or subdivide into as many as four 1,500-square-foot meeting rooms. An adjacent 2,000-square-foot, covered outdoor terrace holds 160 people for a reception. For smaller groups, the 3,045-square-foot Bayview Ballroom can host up to 190 people for a banquet or divide into four conference rooms. It also boasts a covered terrace with a spectacular waterfront setting for receptions of up to 100 guests.
LaPlaya’s sugary beach and copious outdoor space give receptions and banquets here a sense of place. I ate every meal al fresco, enjoying ocean views and vivid sunsets. With the red tide completely gone, Gulf waters sparkle and you might catch a view of dolphins cavorting. For me, the ultimate was dinner on the sand, catered by the resort’s signature restaurant Baleen. Other outdoor venues include the Gulf Lawn overlooking the ocean and the North Pool, with La Playa’s signature luxury cabanas. Also on-site is the tranquil, 4,500-square-foot SpaTerre.
Offsite, the resort’s 18-hole, links-style golf course designed by Robert Cupp is a short drive away. My fave offsite activity was a kayak excursion with All Water Excursions, paddling the mangrove-lined Cocohatchee River to where it meets the ocean at pristine Barefoot Beach. An exclusive water-service provider to LaPlaya, AWE is located five-minutes from the resort at the Vanderbilt Beach Marina. It has a huge inventory of watercraft from paddle boards to wave runners, and caters to corporate groups of 100+ people with customized water activities, from sunset cruises to backwater fishing.