A pair of Ritz-Carlton hotels in Naples are planning and implementing major capital improvements aimed at modernizing the resorts for today’s travelers.
The Ritz-Carlton Naples and its sister golf resort are in the midst of a “re-imagining” that will result in multimillion improvements including a new 14-story tower of suites, modern amenities and the most ambitious refurbishment to the two resorts in their 35-year history.
At the Ritz-Carlton Naples, upgrades at the AAA five-diamond beachfront resort are slated to begin in the coming weeks. When completed in 18 months, the resort will contain a new 74-guest suite tower that will be constructed in the place of an existing swimming pool.
The new suites will boost the hotel’s number of rooms and suites to 474.
As part of the estimated more than $50 million renovation, amenities will be added or shifted on site, as well. An existing swimming pool, tennis courts and outdoor bar and grill will be relocated, and a new lap pool, private poolside cabanas and an expanded Club Lounge will be added.
“We’re calling it the evolution of an icon,” says Jim McManemon, area general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Naples and the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort nearby since January. “It’s going to be a huge transformation but one that we think will fit in with the existing resort very well.”
The renovations, designed by Atlanta-based architectural firm Cooper Carry and Parker-Torres Design, of Boston, will mark the first time the 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road resort has received a major makeover since 2013.
As part of the upgrades, existing rooms will be completely redone, with new configurations, flooring, bathrooms, furniture and other fixtures, and bathed in color schemes of gold, creams, blues, greens and grays “reflective of the resort’s natural surroundings.”
At the same time, major renovations will take place at the hotel’s 51,000-square-foot spa, which debuted a decade ago, on-site restaurants and other amenities.
In the hotel’s lobby, McManemon says Tuscan-styled influences will be replaced by “cleaner lines” and more modern looks.
Meanwhile, at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, hotel staff are readying a series of new amenities that are scheduled to debut on May 10.
Most notably, the hotel has been constructing a 14,000-square-foot “immersive water activity experience” with a pair of body slides, a tube slide and a 600-foot-long “lazy river” since last summer.
Additionally, the 2600 Tiburon Drive hotel has added a 3,600-square-foot event lawn and outdoor restaurant and swimming pool.
“The golf resort has proved to be very successful,” McManemon says during a tour of the beachfront hotel earlier this month. “But what we’re finding is a lot of families don’t play golf, so we wanted to open up the amenities to have the widest possible appeal to all our guests, while still accommodating the golfers who come here.”
There have been key personnel moves afoot at the 295-room hotel, too. In February, Ritz-Carlton veteran Jenny Piccione was named general manager.
Piccione joined the Naples resort from the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, where she had worked as hotel manager for the past four years and oversaw a $34 million renovation. She had also worked at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, in Atlanta.
The capital improvements come as the pair of Ritz-Carlton resorts in Naples are recovering, like most lodging properties, after being ravaged by COVID-19.
Average occupancy at the two properties today is above 80%, up from an anemic 13% in April 2020 when the pandemic took root throughout the U.S. and disrupted travel and nearly every other facet of the global economy.
Both resorts are owned by Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., which spun off from operator Marriott International Inc. in 1998. Today, the real estate investment trust is the largest in the lodging and hospitality sector.
In all, the company controls a portfolio of 80 properties valued at roughly $13 billion, including the Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach and the Tampa Airport Marriott, according to the company’s website.
Ritz-Carlton, which is a subsidiary of Marriott International, operates more than 100 hotels in 32 countries and territories, its website states.
James Risoleo, Host Hotels’ president and CEO, told investment analysts last December that the pandemic actually makes this “an opportune time to renovate the guestrooms and to make (return on investment)-generating upgrades to the resorts pools, pool bar, and restaurants.”
In describing the Ritz-Carlton Naples as among the company’s “top-performing hotels,” Risoleo also noted that developing suites makes more economic sense than simply adding additional keys.
Suites, he says, are “highly sought after by the hotel's loyal customer base” and generate roughly $800 per suite daily — nearly double the revenue per available room (RevPar), a key industry metric, vs. typical rooms.
In 2023, Host Hotels’ investment in Naples is expected to generate more than $10 million annually in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
That performance equates to a 12% cash-on-cash, Risoleo told investors and analysts.
McManemon, too, says that developing suites better accommodates the resort’s visitors.
“Often times we have families come here, or extended families even, and they want to be together but they also desire some space of their own,” he says. “Suites provide that, especially for guests who desire to stay for a longer period of time per visit.”
McManemon believes the latest slate of improvements should set the tone for the hotel for the next two decades.
“Ritz-Carlton is always at the forefront of providing luxury and meeting guests’ expectations and desires,” he says. “In Naples, this property has evolved over time to meet contemporary guest demand. The spa and the members club here were part of that.
“Now, customers are telling us that they’d prefer to have more suites as a setting for their stays, and so we’re providing those based on our loyal customers’ input,” McManemon says. “I truly believe that these improvements will take us through the next 20 years here.”