Golfers’ paradise meets family luxe: A review of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
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Only 100 miles separate Fort Lauderdale from Naples, a city perched on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida. Yet once you reach “the west coast” (how we South Floridians affectionately refer to Florida’s Gulf Coast), you’ll find a much slower pace than the pulsating metropolitan vibe of South Florida.
Once the snowbird haven of Midwesterners, Naples has expanded its appeal to include families and couples looking for a relaxing getaway.
And as the “unofficial” end of summer arrived with Labor Day, I was looking forward to one final escape across Alligator Alley to Naples before cooler weather prevailed (yes, even in Florida) and my life reverted to biweekly soccer practices, homework assignments and the daily work grind.
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The solution? The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Lounging by the pool with an adult beverage in the hot Florida sun, reveling in recreation at an immersive waterpark and traversing every inch of this luxurious five-star resort were hopefully all in the cards for my weekend visit.
I was hoping the lofty expectations I had outlined in my mind would be matched by reality. Here’s what it was like to spend a weekend at this Mediterranean-style golf resort in Naples, Florida.
Nestled among two sun-drenched 18-hole championship courses, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, has a southern Mediterranean aesthetic and endless amenities for your entire family.
Upon arrival, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a prestigious country club. Its vibe appeals to an older generation that values exclusivity and enjoys golfing and relaxation. And yet, the resort also masterfully caters to families with children in a gorgeous hybrid setting of rolling greens and tropical elegance.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, is located just four miles from its luxury beachfront sister property, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and is about a 30-minute drive from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW). In under a 25-minute drive, you could get to dozens of shops and restaurants, including popular attractions such as the Naples Zoo and Downtown Naples, and you’re only 10 minutes from pristine white sand beaches.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, is a Category 7 Marriott property, requiring 50,000 to 70,000 points per night. Cash room rates can easily approach $1,000 per night, making this an exceptional use of points. When I stayed at this property over Labor Day weekend, the nightly rate was $904 for the cheapest room available, while award rates were 60,000 points. I did have to pay a daily $45 resort fee, but I got well over the 1.1 cents TPG values a single Marriott Bonvoy point to be worth.
If you happen to find availability at the 50,000-point level, it might be worthwhile to use a free night award from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (eligible at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program). Otherwise, several popular Marriott Bonvoy cobranded cards are sporting elevated welcome bonuses for a limited time which can easily cover a few nights at this five-star resort.
Things we loved
- The newly-opened, private waterpark with slides and a 600-foot lazy river.
- Rooms and suites include private balconies.
- The hotel offers an impressive Club Lounge (for an added fee), which includes breakfast, light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, beverages and tasty treats throughout the day.
- Free shuttle service to the beachfront Ritz-Carlton, Naples, its sister property, along with beach chairs and towel service.
- The resort fee includes waterpark access, onsite bicycle rental, enhanced Wi-Fi and complimentary access to the putting green and driving range at the onsite Tiburón Golf Clubs, as well as tennis court rental with racquets for two.
- Kid-friendly staff was willing to go above and beyond for guests.
- Extensive Ritz Kids programming with free arts and craft activities daily, an entertainment lounge with video games, a movie theater room and an imaginative indoor playground.
- You’ll need a car to go anywhere else. The hotel location is not within walking distance to any offsite restaurants or shops.
- The Ritz-Carlton brand lacks special perks or benefits for Marriott Bonvoy’s elite members.
- As with most Ritz-Carlton properties, be prepared for sticker shock.
- The hotel’s interior lodge-style decor could use an update – but I suppose the classic luxury look could be a draw for some guests.
- The 295-room property only has one pool, and it’s on the smaller side.
The sprawling Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, has Mediterranean-style aesthetics — think textured walls, stone and wood finishes, vibrant textiles and rustic furnishings — which gives it a high-end feel that is suitable for being home to two PGA-level golf courses. Families with small children can be seen in abundance, thanks in large part to the waterpark poolscape, but the resort equally caters to couples looking for a respite with its laid-back vibe.
Even at full capacity during a holiday weekend, the ambiance remained tranquil but also had a sense of activity — an optimal and difficult balance for a busy resort.
You can expect decent-sized rooms measuring 470 square feet and suite sizes starting at 750 square feet. Though the rooms could use some updating, they still convey a feeling of old-time glamour with white-marble tiled bathrooms and earth tones that blend well with the resort’s tropical motif. Rooms come equipped with a king or two double beds, and all feature a personal balcony with seating for two overlooking the resort grounds or a perfectly manicured golf course.
Well-lit marble bathrooms feature a separate bathtub and shower, double sink and single-use PAYA hotel toiletries. In-room amenities include complimentary bottles of water, Nespresso coffeemakers, well-stocked minibars and 55-inch LCD TVs with premium movie channels. All Marriott Bonvoy members receive complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.
Food and drink
The resort has two onsite standalone restaurants, Lemonia and RÍA. Lemonia serves daily breakfast and contemporary American cuisine for dinner. RÍA is a newly-added lunch and dinner spot, serving a variety of dishes such as Peruvian lomo saltado and other classic Latin American delicacies in a modish yet low-key outdoor setting. If you’re the on-the-go type or need a quick fix, the resort’s Express(o) cafe offers caffeinated beverages and pastries, while the Bella Vista Lounge overlooking the 18th hole of Tiburón Golf is the ideal spot for relaxing with a glass of wine or champagne before or after dinner. If you’re by the pool and don’t want to abandon your sunbathing, you can also order lunch right from your pool chair.
At check-in, I was offered access to the Club Lounge, an exclusive lounge on the second floor offering delectable light snacks, a complimentary selection of adult beverages and an excellent morning breakfast. Daily Club Lounge rates are $225 for non-elite Bonvoy members or $175 for Bonvoy elite members (Gold and up) and include internet access and valet parking.
I was admittedly hesitant at first, but when I considered breakfast, snacks and drinks for a family of four, I figured I’d likely save a considerable amount of money over paying à la carte prices. I opted to add lounge access for one day and breakfast for two mornings (think hot stations with bacon, scrambled eggs, and pancakes and cold options such as smoked salmon, charcuterie, fruits, and pastries), and it was well worth the daily rate.
Amenities and service
True to its name, the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, features two Greg Norman-designed, PGA-level golf courses. If you don’t fancy playing 18 holes, you and your family can borrow complimentary golf clubs and golf balls from the hotel’s concierge desk and hit the putting green in front of the Bella Vista patio.
Younger children can frolic at the interactive children’s splash pool, while older children and adults can zoom down waterslides to their heart’s content at The Reservoir, the property’s new, riveting waterpark experience.
Additional features include a heated pool with a sundeck, indoor playground, an entertainment room for kids and hydro clay tennis courts with one-hour complimentary court time and racquet rental included with the resort fee. The onsite spa offers massage and facial treatments, while the fitness center has Peloton bikes and a copious amount of cardio and strength-training equipment.
At the Ritz, the mission is its guests’ genuine care and comfort, and it shows. Each time a hotel employee walked by my daughters, there was always a reminder about a kid-friendly activity occurring or the tasty treats being passed out soon. This personalized approach to service was recognizable immediately upon arrival, when the front-desk employee introduced me by name to the bellhop who would assist us with our luggage – and that pursuit of service excellence was noticeable until the moment we checked out.
Out and about
The beach is only a few minutes away by car. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to pull your kids (or even yourself) away from the onsite waterpark with three waterslides and 600-foot, mellow and meandering lazy river, divine for a leisurely float on a hot Florida day. This is the type of resort where you want to stay on property and enjoy a day out on the golf course, by the pool or racing down one of the exhilarating waterslides.
The only time we left the grounds was to have dinner at the resort’s beachfront sister property, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and get a glimpse of the sunset from its outdoor seaside restaurant, Gumbo Limbo. Guests staying at either resort are offered complimentary shuttle service between the properties, which are approximately four miles apart. So whether you have a rental car or are mostly staying put, you can enjoy the amenities and restaurants at both.
Top-notch service, an upscale vibe, patently family-friendly staff and facilities, and an array of exciting activities for your whole group make The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, a notable option in southwest Florida for your next getaway.
That said, if you’re coming to Florida seeking oceanfront access steps from your Ritz-Carlton room, you may want to instead pick sister property The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, located on one of Florida’s most spectacular beaches.
Featured image by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy.
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