Benefits of Spring

Just a few weeks ago, traffic was backed up everywhere, and parking lots were jammed with folks competing for places to park. Restaurants were full, and if you did not have a reservation somewhere, you were pretty much out of luck. There was an event to attend—sometimes two—nearly every night, and I struggled to remember which outfit I had worn to which event so I would not repeat too often. (I know I could have written it down, but that is being WAY too organized.)

   Then the convoy of car carriers arrived. At one point, I saw six parked end to end on Pelican Bay Boulevard, almost like a mass invasion or exodus. And suddenly, my favorite time of year had arrived.

   It’s not that Bob and I don’t enjoy the craziness that season in Naples brings; we do. And we adore the friends with whom we spend much time. While most of them feel the need to go “home” during the summer months, we relish that our year-round home base is Naples and we finally have some time to enjoy it at a slower pace.

   May and June are two of our favorite months. The weather is great; traffic eases up (I can actually venture out on U.S. 41 again); fabulous restaurant deals begin; the Gulf waters warm up; and hurricane season has not really started yet. I often wonder why snowbirds feel the need to head north so early, or even at all.

   What our traveling friends may not realize is that no sooner do they leave town than magic starts to happen. For example, the elegant restaurant Lamoraga just opened to rave reviews.

Lamoraga Naples

Lamoraga Naples

Lamoraga outside and in.

Pan de Cristal, gazpacho, croquetas Iberico, Lamoraga, Naples, FL

From top to bottom: Lamoraga’s roasted red pepper Iberico roll, trio of gazpachos, pan de cristal (Photo: Chris Inslee)

   In case you missed it, Lamoraga occupies a freestanding building just north of Park Shore on the east side of U.S. 41. The cuisine is Spanish contemporary, and the Naples restaurant is the only outpost of this chain in the United States. Others are located in Budapest and Dubai, with additional sites to open in Barcelona and Madrid. Find it at 3936 Tamiami Trail North, Naples; 239-331-3669.

   On the real estate front, Naples Square, the new development by the Ronto Group on Goodlette-Frank Road just across from Bayfront, will break ground within the next few weeks. There has been so much interest in Naples Square that 55 condo reservations received to date are being turned into contracts already. Considering that 73 total condominiums were offered, that is a pretty good success rate. The Ronto Group plans to have actual models open in early 2015—if they have a spare condo or two left for that purpose. Adjacent to Naples Square will be some commercial sites. I am eagerly waiting to see who will occupy these spaces. It seems that Naples Square might be aiming to compete big time with Mercato.

   Speaking of competition and Mercato—there is some now for the development’s Silverspot Cinema. The Paragon Theater across the street in the Pavilion Shopping Center on Vanderbilt Beach Road is Silverspot’s new competitor. We felt we needed to give Paragon a try, especially since the movie we wanted to see was the new Spiderman, and Paragon was the only place showing it nearby. I ordered tickets and picked out seats online, as we do with Silverspot.

   What a pleasure it was to walk into this totally revamped theater complex. The seats recline and are very comfortable, while the aisles are wide so no one trips over anyone to get to a seat. Bob rated of the popcorn five stars. By the way, the movie was pretty good, despite the bad critical reviews. I think in the future I will pay more attention to what audiences say about a movie than to the paid reviewers. We still love Silverspot, but Paragon is a nice alternative. Since it has been so long in coming, I don’t think many folks know the place is open—so give it a try. Visit Paragon Pavilion’s website at and just follow the prompts, or call the theater at 239-596-0008.

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