Fla. resorts move forward with openings, refits

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NAPLES, Fla. -- Hoteliers in Collier County, encompassing Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, remain hopeful this year's high season won't be a wash.

To that end, despite sagging occupancies, many hotels are pressing on with openings and renovations scheduled prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

One marked difference over previous years, however, is the reallocation of advertising dollars to the drive-in market.

The Tourism Alliance of Collier County is completing plans for an ad campaign, in conjunction with Visit Florida, to attract travelers from the Northeast, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati -- traditional winter markets -- as well as Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa, usually relied on as the off-season market.

The campaign will consist of Internet advertising, radio spots and direct mailings, according to a spokeswoman.

Higher-end properties appear to be suffering the least since Sept. 11. "The luxury market seems to be back on track," said the spokeswoman.

Though business dipped post-Sept. 11, according to a spokeswoman for the Ritz-Carlton Naples, the property had a 92% occupancy rate over Thanksgiving. She said the hotel is projecting occupancy will average 85% during the week between Christmas and New Year's.

The Tiburon/Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort is set to open Jan. 4.

The Marco Beach Ocean Resort, Marco Island, is slated to open Dec. 17. It will offer 103 one- and two-bedroom suites with balconies, conference facilities, a spa and a fitness center.

LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort will celebrate its grand re-opening Jan. 2. It had been closed since April for a $45 million overhaul.

It will house 189 rooms, including nine suites, meeting and conference facilities, five swimming pools and a spa.

The Marco Island Marriott Resort & Golf Club, which had closed one of its towers for a time because of a decline in guests, now plans to proceed with a $43 million renovation that includes room upgrades and the construction of a 24,000-square-foot Balinese spa.

As the industry waits for an economic upswing, Naples continues to promote what the area is known for -- golf and spas.

The Hotel Escalante in Naples, Fla.The Hotel Escalante is offering a Winter Golf package for $539 per night, double, that features suite accommodations, breakfast and 18 holes of golf plus a second round for a discounted rate.

The Inn on Fifth is spotlighting its Inn'timate Getaway, an overnight package starting at $499 per couple, with his and her's massages, breakfast and a restaurant gift certificate.

Also, the Philharmonic Center for the Arts is gearing up for its 13th season with dance, music and theater performances.

This year, the venue will play host to Itzhak Perlman, Julio Iglesias, Debbie Reynolds, Mandy Patinkin and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Hotel Contacts

Hotel Escalante
(877) 485-3466

Inn on Fifth
(888) 403-8778

LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort
(800) 237-6883

Marco Beach Ocean Resort
(800) 715-8517

Marco Island Marriott Resort and Golf Club
(809) 438-4373

Ritz-Carlton Naples
(941) 598-3300

Tiburon/Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort
(941) 593-2000

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