(Mirror) I hate flying. OK, I said it. Funny because for decades I was the CEO of a company that supplied the avionics industry of Italy. I am fortunate to have traveled across the globe prior to 9/11. Since then getting on a plane is a major hassle, and that's not including the chronic delays before getting on, taking off, disembarking, and waiting for your luggage after having spent hours in a seat far too small for the medium sized American human frame, always with the soundtrack of the shrills and cries of obnoxious children and their parents.

Now I only fly if it is an emergency. I drive instead, it doesn't matter how near or how far but at least I know I am in control of my life. If I can't drive there I will not go there.

We are fortunate here in South Florida to have at our disposal various top notch destinations that can be reached by car. My favorite is two hours away from Fort Lauderdale: Naples, Florida.

After crossing Alligator Alley you are in a slice of paradise.

Our favorite place to stay is The Inn on 5th.

A chic boutique hotel on Fifth Avenue South in the heart of old  Naples, with high end shopping, art galleries, dining, nightlife, and theaters just outside its doors. It boasts a rooftop pool, a spa, a gourmet restaurant and plush guest rooms for a luxurious escape. It is only a half mile from the famous Naples Pier, where every day as sundown approaches, a multitude gathers with folding chairs and drinks in hand to watch the spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Naples is a walking city and it is yours to explore.

The Inn on 5th occupies a pair of Mediterranean Revival buildings on either side of Fifth Avenue South with chic awnings shading Juliet balconies, which makes it feel more Beverly Hills than Southwest Florida. Inside, the hotel is a study in measured red, black and white with sophisticated Art Deco-inspired furniture and a shiny marble floor in the lobby. Bathrooms are sumptuous and spacious in black and white Italian marble with rainfall showers and bathtubs in most rooms. They’re equipped with televisions and Starbucks coffee makers. Wi-Fi is free as is parking with a valet service that welcomes each guest with warmth and a smile. 

The staff is above anything I have ever experienced, even in European capitals at 5 star hotels. You feel at home. In fact my husband and I were considering buying a house in Naples but after we discovered the Inn on 5th and its Club Level we decided that it was more convenient to drive over anytime we felt like it and have a place we could call  home without having to worry about its upkeep. 

Case in point: A few months ago my husband and I were staying at the Club Level, which offers a fabulous free happy hour with the best selection of liquors anywhere. All the top shelf brands are there, well except one.

They did not feature Jack Daniel’s, my favorite after dinner drink. I mentioned it, as a joke, to Nancy and Miriam, the wonderful ladies at the concierge, and they confirmed that JD was not on their list. On our next visit we were greeted by a smiling and chuckling staff saying, “We have something for you, come back later.” Promptly at 4 p.m. I was invited to scan the array of liquors and they proudly pointed out that Jack Daniel’s was now part of their options. I had forgotten all about it but they were thrilled to tell me that they had done it for me.  

That's what I call customer care.

If you want to treat yourself fo a stress and hassle free vacation, get in that car and go to Naples. Make sure you stay at the Inn on 5th. You will not be disappointed. 


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March Mirror Travel Stories