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Naples Florida

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, JoNell Modys, PR & Communications Manager Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention Bureau.

Good day JoNell and thank you for participating in our interview.

Norm:

Please tell our readers where exactly is Naples Florida, Marco Island and the Everglades, as well as something about its topgraphy and climate.

JoNell:

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades area is located within Collier County, Florida.

We are just south of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, in fact, the Southwest Florida Regional Airport in Fort Myers is our main airport.

From Florida's east coast, it is about a one and a half to two hour drive to our area from Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.

We are essentially the last point of civilization on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast.

Just below Marco Island and Everglades City, the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades Wilderness Waterway stretch for a hundred miles or so to the tip of mainland Florida.

The area topography includes over 20 miles of white sand beaches, and large expanses of coastal mangrove estuary. Our inland areas include beautiful cypress swamps and pine forests. Our climate is sub tropical so we have very lush tropical plants including many types of palm trees and flowering plants, as well as rare orchids out in our preserve lands.

Norm:

Our readers are always looking to find unique romantic destinations. Could you describe six unique romantic destinations that one can find in your area?

JoNell:

The entire area is really beautiful but here are six of my favorite romantic settings:

*** One of the most romantic places to be is on the beach at sunset.

*** Take that one step farther and put yourself on a sailboat or sightseeing yacht and cruise into the Gulf of Mexico to watch the sun drop below the horizon.

*** Inside one of our beautifully decorated beachfront resorts in either Naples or on Marco Island, gazing from the balcony over the Gulf of Mexico. *** On a sightseeing boat with playful dolphins cavorting alongside.

*** Dining at a sidewalk table along either Fifth Avenue South or Third Street South in downtown Naples, enjoying delicious fresh seafood.

*** Side by side in kayaks, quietly cruising the waters of one of the area's beautiful rivers or near coastal esturaries - marvel at the birds, dolphin, manatee, sea turtles and more.

Norm:

As a follow up, could you describe six unique wedding venues such as parks, beaches etc?

*** All of our beach resorts in Naples and on Marco Island offer wonderful beach access, and it is very close by to head right to the reception.

*** At Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, there is a beautiful coconut palm grove just before the main beach that is often used by parties, and there are several gorgeous green lawns that overlook the Gulf of Mexico.

*** Some on-the-water venues include the Naples Princess and Marco Princess yachts, beautiful yachts with indoor air-conditioned salons as well as fresh air decks, which can be chartered for a wedding party.

*** For barefoot-style ceremonies, try the Calusa Spirit power catamaran, the Kahuna sailing catamaran or the Lady Stirling, an 80-foot schooner.

*** Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens offers several beautiful locations with lush tropical landscaping for ceremonies and receptions, as well as the pontoon boat ride in Lake Victoria to visit the zoo's primates, who all live cage-free on islands within the lake.

*** For bird watchers, tie the knot at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, with a boardwalk through the country's last remaining old growth bald cypress forest. This Audubon-owned sanctuary is one of the top bird watching sites in the USA and is the Southern Gateway for the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Norm:

What is there to do in the Naples area?

JoNell:

Arts and culture top the list - we have over 130 art galleries in the greater Naples area, along with performances at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Sugden Theater and Naples Dinner Theatre.

Many of our favorite activities are focused on the pristine natural environment. There are boat tours, both large and small, that feature dolphin watching as a favorite activity. Bird and wildlife watching are also top of many people's list, and there is a long list of places, both in town and out in the Everglades, where you can connect with your wild side.

Shopping is especially popular in Naples. We have boutique stores and art galleries downtown, and very upscale luxury retail at Waterside Shops and Village at Venetian Bay. And, since we have many very wealthy winter residents here, they often donate or consign their designer duds to our many thrift and consignment shops.

Norm:

Could you describe some romantic restaurants in your area?

JoNell: Baleen at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort is located right on the beach with a perfect view to catch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Their menu is "seafood-centric" and is a favorite with both locals and visitors.

Kurrents at Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa offers a unique Asian-inspired fusion cuisine with fabulous steaks and seafood and a world class martini menu.

Naples Tomato is getting rave reviews for its fresh ingredients and fabulous favorites, including lasagna, fresh seafood and pasta combinations, Osso Bucco and more.

Ridgway Bar & Grill has a fabulous wine list and wonderful menu, served in a garden setting or indoors just a block from Naples Beach.

Norm:

When is the best time to visit Naples, Florida?

JoNell:

At the visitors bureau we like to let people know that early summer and fall offer nice weather, less crowds and great savings on hotel rates and greens fees. Our peak season is January through April, and it is gorgeous here at that time, but we are often sold out during the peak season so it's best to plan ahead to make sure you get your desired reservation. May and October are my favorite months, with beautiful weather, great fishing and less crowds.

Norm:

Please tell our readers something about the beaches in your area?

JoNell:

Travel Channel named Naples America's Best All-Around Beach in 2005, and in 2006, Barefoot Beach Preserve in North Naples was named to Dr. Beach's Top Ten American Beaches list.

White sand stretches as far as the eye can see along our shoreline in Naples, and for 5 miles along Marco Island's coast. We also have many nearby deserted island beaches - perfect for a boat trip to look for shells or a nice picnic.

Norm:

How easy or difficult is it to travel in and around Naples? JoNell:

It's easy to get around by car in the area. If you want to explore the Everglades nearby, it's best to either rent a car or take one of the guided van tours to the Everglades. There are several good ones to choose from. If you don't want to drive, there are some great options. Take the Alligator Alley Express shuttle from the airport, then stay downtown on or near Fifth Avenue South, where shops, restaurants, bars and the beach are within walking distance.

We also have the Naples Trolley, which provide a two hour round trip narrated excursion, or you can hop on and off during the day to get to nearby shopping and attractions.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

JoNell:

The greater Naples area is truly one of the most beautiful places in Florida. Our downtown is lovely, with tropical landscaping and sidewalk cafes - almost like Paris with palm trees. We have some of the country's last truly pristine wilderness just around the corner, with recreation including hiking, swamp walking, kayaking and canoeing, fishing, boating and more. Golfers love the courses, especially those at our top resorts, and many people actually plan their trips here to get in their holiday shopping, since we have so many unique stores and boutiques.

To explore what there is to see and do in the area, along with where to stay, visit our WEBSITE or call 1-800-688-3600 for a free visitors guide.

Thanks once again.

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