Heart to Heart – A Fond Farewell

Karen Coney Coplin

In this multi-month issue, it’s typical to consider events related to the summer months as well as matters related to celebrating Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June.

Last year, all bets were off, even when the most restrictive “safer at home” orders were easing for Floridians and visitors to our city.

For a period of time, hotels and restaurants were closed in their entirety, restaurants offering takeout only and both hotels and restaurants gradually reopening with phased percentages for occupancy.

Some restaurants did not make it despite a concerted effort by many to shop small and shop local. And some other locally based businesses as well as national chains followed suit by closing their doors one final time.

But, an iconic hotel in Old Naples came back ready to make a mark and celebrate its last season after being in business since 1946 at its current location on the beach near downtown.

Before I became a Naples resident, I stayed at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club time and again. This really was a warm and welcoming introduction or entrée to this city, and an important part of my decision to relocate here in 1994.

One of the more memorable visits was in 1992, when I traveled here to see one of their summer concerts, later known as the popular Summer Jazz series. This one was special – maybe you were there too? Don McLean of “American Pie” fame was the featured attraction and he was fantastic.

The soft grass of the Watkins Lawn was completely packed and the stars were twinkling above as he sang his classic hits including “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night”).

Two years later I moved to Naples with a special fondness for this hotel, its staff, its grounds and its ambience. My pleasant experiences as a guest will be happy memories forever.

Friends who have vacationed there for years came down from Connecticut one last time this season to enjoy the beach in a casual setting, plus, some of the best sunsets in the world! They could not travel last year due to COVID-19 restrictions and decided to make one final pilgrimage to their favorite vacation destination spot. The evening sunset ritual did not disappoint.

I too am planning one final “staycation” before the Naples Beach hotel closes its doors forever on May 23, 2021.

That’s an end to an incredible run – 75 years! May we all be so lucky.

Many of us have enjoyed dancing on Sunday nights to music under the stars, before and after watching the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

Others have gotten married there with the perfect backdrop of the blue sky and sea.

Still others have passed through for various conferences and others have enjoyed a great round of golf in a serene setting so close to the beach.

Whatever your interaction has been with this hotel, I think we’ll all share a twinge of sadness when the lights go out later this month for the final time.

Email Karen at Napleskcc@gmail.com with ideas about future article ideas, especially focused on local charities and other local flavor. Follow her on Instagram for more slices of life in Naples: @Naplesbythenumbers

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