In order to understand the importance of Naples first Ritz Carlton (yes, Naples boasts two), context is helpful.
Flash back to 1885 when the founding fathers of Naples (as we know it today) dropped anchor in search of their “land of forever summer”. Their names, Senator General John S. Williams from Louisville, Kentucky and his wealthy friend, Walter Haldeman, owner of the Louisville Courier Journal. What better spot on earth to develop into a world destination? This was it, they decided!
Wealthy visionaries? You bet- but not wealthy enough. They would deplete their resources in no time attempting to reach the world with news of this paradise. Little wonder since the trip alone was so expensive and was not an easy journey. It would not be until 1928 until there even was a viable road to Naples. The next great conquest occurred in the 50’s: air conditioning and mosquito control. Paradise has its challenges. A foregone conclusion that the world would not listen until then they were cooled and protected in this semi-tropical climate.
Still, Naples remained a sleepy little beach town. In the mid 80’s, a little-known company announced it would build another resort hotel in Naples. Who? Where? The only Ritz Carlton in operation in the States, based in Boston, MA, had newly reorganized with plans to expand. Their research determined Naples, FL was perfect. It had its newly expanded airport nearby, and Interstate 75 was completed.
It was if the stars aligned for both Naples and The Ritz Carlton. As if in divine synchronicity, in 1982, an old ditty, penned by Irvin Berlin, was re-mixed and became a global hit: “Puttin on the Ritz”. Suddenly the Ritz Carlton was being associated with wealth, glamour, and prestige thanks to lyrics like:
“Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)
Come let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts
Puttin’ on the Ritz”
So, successful that today, Naples, FL, stands as one of the few places in the world that can boast TWO Ritz Carlton resort hotels: the 2nd golf Ritz Resort some 3 miles east of the beach front Ritz and Spa.
Such a sight! Traveling toward Vanderbilt Beach the Ritz Carlton rises with all the decorum and splendor one has come to associate with “The Ritz”. A beautiful beacon for Naples which confirms a hundred-fold the founding Fathers belief in this place we call Paradise… Naples, FL.