2018 marks half a century since LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort opened its doors, and they’re thriving more than ever thanks to a $30 million renovation and the ever increasingly popular destination of Naples, Florida.
In 2018, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort turns 50…and it has never looked better, thanks to a recently completed $30 million transformation and the traditionally older community of Naples catering to more and more younger visitors. Here, we chat with the resort’s Managing Director Marco Perry to hear a bit about the hotel’s past, the vibrant transformation of Naples as a destination, and the hotel’s exciting new renovation.
Opened in 1968, LaPlaya Beach & Racquet Inn, as it was known, was owned and operated by local Naples hotel industry legend Philip M. Francoeur. The resort quickly built a loyal following and saw major renovations and additions in 1985, 1995, and 2001 as they’ve kept up with demand and continued to modernize.
A Loyal, But Changing, Guest Demographic
“We have families that have been coming here for three generations, often more than once per year,” says Perry. “It speaks to the soul of LaPlaya and what we’re all about. Yes, it’s a beach location, yes our staff is unique and consistently provides a wonderful guest experience, but Naples has become a draw in itself, too.” While you may think of Naples with images like retirement homes and shuffleboard, the reality is that the sleepy beachside town has woken up over the last decade or so.
The Destination Today
Looking for a pristine coastal town but don’t want to deal with jam-packed traffic and people everywhere you look? Naples is your place. “If you talk to people who have been here for 10, 20, 30 years, Naples as a destination has certainly transformed into a younger crowd looking for a bit more adventure, but the qualities its known for are still there, too,” says Perry. “We’ve started to become recognized more frequently at the domestic and international levels as well.” Naples has topped the Gallup-Healthways rankings over the two years as the healthiest city in the country, and is frequently near the top of other lists ranking by happiness.
More Than a Retirement Community
Lazily lying on the beach and enjoying the water is a must-do Naples ritual, but there’s much more to do, too. The US Open for the fast-growing sport of pickleball is in Naples. Kayaking has become an increasingly popular mode of adventure. The Everglades are easily accessible. The Red Sox and Twins have their spring training camps nearby. There are more options for shopping than there were just a decade ago. “We get direct flights from some key east coast cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. We get direct flights from international lifts in Canada and soon, Europe,” says Perry. “Just today I was with someone from Miami who said, ‘I can’t believe how beautiful it is.’” While Miami, Orlando, and the Florida Keys have long been the main destinations for international travelers visiting Florida, Naples is nudging itself into the conversation.
LaPlaya has invested $30 million over the last couple years into renovations that have touched many areas of the hotel including guest rooms, the pool, decor, lobby, BALEEN restaurant, and more. “We went from the old traditional Florida aesthetic to something that’s a bit more casual. We call it ‘elegance by the beach,’” says Perry. “It’s a brighter beachside ambience. There’s almost a residential feel. LaPlaya has always been known for bespoke style and understated service, and we honored that in this renovation.” And the reviews are in: customers, traditionally and appropriately the hotel’s biggest critics, have responded with excellent feedback, says Perry. “Out of all the properties I’ve worked in my career, LaPlaya has the largest returning customer base. They love it.”
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort