Naples Florida: “Candy Land” on the Gulf


A good description of Naples is; its a perfect mix of Key West and Palm Beach. Quaint, colorful, happy people, partying all night long at live music establishments like Handsome Harry’s, or hanging out at the decades old historic Old Naples Pub, with comfort food to die for like fresh caught fish and chips, burgers and fish tacos. Naples is just so visually delicious it reminds me of Candy. So I dubbed it Candy Land.

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Handsome Harry’s is well known for their Giant Bloody Mary’s. I couldn’t finish mine!

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Old Naples Pub located up a ramp in a courtyard just blocks away from the Historic Pier.

Then there is the live music and amazing rum runners at Tommy Bahamas Bar and Restaurant. These are just a few of the hot spots located on Third Street South

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One of the Sculptures on Third Street South

Naples is a place where the “resident snowbirds” and tourists all dress in bright candy colors and dance the night away.

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Dinner at Handsome Harry’s-Lobster Salad and a rather slimming portion of fresh fish (make sure to make a reservation, but be prepared for small portions and the highest prices I have seen in South Florida). Well worth it to sit outside on the patio being entertained by an amazing singer and watching the show of young and old dancing to everything from Boston’s Anthem “Sweet Caroline” to Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It”.

People who visit and can afford it (homes are in the millions) tend to want to invest here in a winter getaway or come back and rent for the season. There are few places that mimic the lifestyle, ease, and upscale recreational amenities of Naples.

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The homes are breathtaking and worth the time to drive around the neighborhood surrounding the Pier … just to dream.

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The historic Naples Pier: Be sure to take a stroll out and stop mid-way as there are some benches there. Close your eyes and take in the fresh ocean air with the sun and cooling breeze on your face.

Now, not all was as perfect as it looked. Naples could benefit from an accessibility consultant, pronto, as many of their ramps are dangerously difficult to negotiate for wheelers (unless you are a wheelie master). There is parking, however, behind the 3rd Street and up close to the Pier.

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We stayed at the Naples Bay Resort, a 4 diamond luxury resort, voted one of Florida’s Top 40 Resorts by Conde Nast Traveler and Top 500 Hotels in the World by Travel and Leisure. This property with full Marina view suites with balconies is located within a few minutes from all that Naples Gulf Coast has to offer..beaches, shopping, dining GALORE.

Our room was surprisingly well appointed with marble, granite, wallpaper, and high end finishes one would expect from a condo, not a hotel room. Full kitchen with dishwasher and full size fridge, 2 bedrooms, two baths (one accessible, one regular) even a washer and dryer!

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This is the room with the fully accessible en suite bathroom

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Yes I could actually get under the sink and see myself in the mirror (WARNING: Avoid if you spend the night partying at Handsome Harry’s bar!)

The suite, as they refer to it, is really a full size apt with a huge balcony the size of most rooms (though a large lip would make it difficult if not impossible for a wheeler to get over). I will ask them next time if they have perhaps provided a lip ramp for this in what they call the Fully ADA suite (see official ADA Compliance Policy here: ).

Unfortunately, while we were thrilled with the accommodations and beauty and sheer size of the 2 bedroom apartment, the view from this room, was, you guessed it, not the most desirable, but rather a view of a canal and the small homes located directly across. Marina view is what I paid for and confirmed upon reservation and check–in. I was very sad and disappointed that yet again, the handicapped room was located in the least attractive location on the property with the worst views. This establishment, however, did not let my heart be broken for too long. They quickly called me and offered me another free night in a room that was not an ADA room on steroids like the one I had with a roll in shower, and a bathtub!, but a bathtub with bars and an ADA height toilet WITH a Marina view, upon my return.

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Marina at Naples Bay Resort

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Posing in front of the Marina where they have the Yacht Club for breakfast buffet, several restaurants, boat tours and shops galore (even one for your pampered pooch!)

So I will return! And next time I will take on the Beach as I found this great location that actually has rentable Beach wheelchairs I will take a Boat tour and go down the famous 5th Street. I will have lunch at Roy’s of Hawaii with our new friends who own a very cool classic car restoration and sales business . I will endeavor to keep my husband from buying a classic car…for now, though I do believe this one looks kinda good on me, don’t you think?

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Deborah Davis

Deborah is a Speaker, Disability Inclusion Consultant, Entrepreneur, Writer and Business Owner of Wheelchair Lifestyle Enterprise Push Living Inc.

She was a Former Dancer, Accident Survivor (C 6-7 Spinal Cord Injury resulting in incomplete Quadriplegia 1985), College grad (BBA Finance 1991 U of Miami), with a background in Sales and Marketing and Non Profit Development and Management.

She is now embarked on new path creating a market for Disability Inclusive Stock Images with the creation of and publishing an online enterprise: The mission is to create Inclusion for people with disabilities through stock images for advertising, marketing and editorial uses, providing accessible properties for travel, swap or purchase, publishing an online magazine for improved health and well-being, providing information and opportunities for Accessible Travel, and operating an online store with products that improve lives.

She is most passionate about building a network of people with disabilities who are empowering, supporting and creating a more inclusive world. Personally, she is a mother of two beautiful, wise and exceptionally bright young women, and residing in South Florida.

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