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April 2000

CocoPlum

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at a private residence called CocoPlum in Naples, Florida.

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Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips



Accommodations

Cocoplum is a beautiful private home located in Naples, Florida. This was our first try at renting a private home. The home is rented directly by the owner; no realtor gets involved. We found this home on the internet. The owner was most gracious and did exactly as he promised. We paid a security deposit and rental up front, and he sent us the keys, directions, address, etc., the week before our vacation began. There are only two pictures on the website - the front of the house and the pool in back. The house was beautiful and very clean; these pictures do not do it justice. We are respecting the ownersí privacy and only providing pictures of the pool area.

The house is a single-floor residence, with beautiful landscaping, very well-kept. There are lots of windows and it is full of light. It is a two/three-bedroom (one room is a sitting room with a sofa bed) and two full baths. The kitchen area is open to the family area, and the back of the house has the lanai as its focal point. There is also a dining area and separate living room.

The pool area is the main attraction of this home. It is very clean, and includes a spa. The entire pool area is screened in...a very nice feature in southwest Florida, as the carefree vacationer does not have to be concerned with insects (especially great at night while sitting in the spa!). As Lori is allergic to bees, she especially enjoyed not having to constantly be on the look-out for them.

We went to a local pool supply store and bought two inflatable lounge chairs (with drink holders, of course), that came in extremely useful during our stay. It was completely relaxing to float around the pool with a cool drink. The pool was heated...refreshing but nice in the morning. In addition, there are well-placed lights (in the pool and spa as well as strategically placed in the landscaping) that looked beautiful and really set a romantic mood.

One last thing - renting a private home is truly cost-effective. We found it was actually cheaper to rent this luxury home (where we had our own private pool and spa, as well as a complete kitchen, several televisions with cable, and laundry room) than to rent a comparable hotel for a week. Not to mention...you can also save money by picking up some liquid refreshments and some food (and not have to pay resort prices).

Resort Amenities

See above - it really was like being in our own private resort!

Resort Food

Mostly we chowed on English muffins in the morning, chips and salsa, wine and cheese, and went out for dinner. But there was a full kitchen.

Resort Bar/Lounge

We had our own private lounge area in the pool!

Resort People/Service

No people, no service, just us, relaxing with each other, doing whatever we felt like whenever we felt like. The owner of the home was very nice and courteous when we talked with him about renting his house for our vacation.

Area/Attractions

Naples is a beautiful, clean little town on the Gulf Coast. There is an area near the ocean called "Olde Naples" with quaint shops and restaurants/bistros on a main plaza-type street. It is very non-commercial. Do make sure to go out on the Naples pier. The pelicans are truly amazing, as they dive into the water searching for fish.

Dining

Frascatiís Italian Restaurant - 1258 N. Airport Road, Naples, 941-643-5709
This is a wonderful Italian restaurant, not to be missed if you enjoy Italian food as we do. This is truly a place the locals flock to. Do not be intimidated by their understated appearance...they take up several storefronts in a shopping center (Keith was ready to turn around). While the ambiance is not exactly romantic, it is interesting. There are many private booths available, and in lieu of wallpaper, there are quotes about food and wine on the walls that make for interesting reading. The menu is extensive, and can satisfy the most demanding gourmand. We began with an appetizer...Pomidore Quattro Formaggio (OK, we didnít write down the exact name) ..it was baked fresh bread heaped with toasted cheese (and quite a bit of gorgonzola). Salad was a large bowl served with tongs for individual helpings. Keith ordered veal saltimbocca, very tender and tasty. Lori had Shrimp Francese...eight shrimp (delightfully with tails removed) in egg batter in an olive oil/wine/lemon sauce that was delicious. (Are you hungry yet?) Both were served with a side of pasta. We had to pass up dessert, but had some aperitifs at the bar. It was probably the only place we visited that week where Keith could order grappa.

The Dock at Crayton Cove - 12th Ave. & Naples Bay, Naples, 941-263-9940
The Dock at Crayton Cove Web Site
This is a great open-air casual bar/restaurant right on the water, specializing in seafood (although there is some fare for landlubbers like Keith). It overlooks the city dock and boats are constantly coming in and out. The steamed clams were exceptional...the seafood is all fresh. Keith had some good wings. They do have a nice selection of wines (both by the glass and bottle). A no-frills restaurant, but good times, good service, and good food.

Maxwellís on the Bay - 4300 Gulfshore Blvd. North (Venetian Village), Naples, 813-263-1662
Maxwell's Web Site
Maxwellís bills itself as an upscale restaurant located on the bay. It was on the bay, but you really couldnít see much of it unless you had one of the choice few tables right in front of the windows. We wore shorts (like we did everywhere), but felt a little underdressed. Lori thought she was one of the few women of child-bearing age in the restaurant. Lori had a nice brie appetizer (Keith even ate a little, even though he is not fond of brie), and Keith had a salad with vinaigrette. Lori had stuffed shrimp - unfortunately, the stuffing was mostly a spicy bread mixture, with no additional seafood. Keith had pasta with chicken - good, but too much food. Maxwellís is located in a quaint (but very touristy) upscale shopping arcade (Venetian Village). After dinner, we stopped in at the Village Pub (around the corner). They specialize in burgers and sandwiches, and their liquor license is limited to beer and wine. It was a comfortable little place, full of wood.

Bistro 821 - 521 Fifth Ave. South, Naples, 941-261-5821
Bistro 821's Web Site
This is a nice restaurant in the quaint area of Olde Naples. Dining is available on the sidewalk. Since we ate lunch, we chose indoors. We ate lunch here on our first day in Naples. We both ordered burgers, which were very juicy, and served on focaccia bread. In addition, a side order of very tasty, fresh bread was served with a vinaigrette and freshly shaved parmesan for dipping. They had very refreshing, tasty iced tea. We did not make it back there for dinner, but feel certain their entrees are creative and tasty. Service was very good and professional...our waitress had a great smile and used it often.

Theís Waterfront Cafe - 1444 Fifth Avenue South, Naples, 941-775-8115
This bar/restaurant is located right along the water and is great if you want open-air dining with a view. The bartenders are friendly, and the food is good. Keith had a great caesar salad (full of garlic though!). He tried a pasta dish with chicken which was good but way too much food! Lori stuck with Rum Coconut Shrimp, which was very tasty. The bread was great. A good place to hang out. We werenít impressed with the margaritas, though...they seem to do strange margaritas all throughout the Naples area. Instead of lime, they use sweet & sour mix.

Billís Pier on Fifth - 1200 Fifth Avenue South, Naples, 941-261-1811
This restaurant is located in Tin City, a ramshackle/quaint-looking tourist area along the water. Billís is an upscale restaurant, with lots of weathered wood and great views over the water. You can still go casual, though (once again, we wore shorts, but shirts with collars!). Billís claims to have one of the most extensive wine lists in Naples, and it was pretty extensive. Keithís filet mignon was very tender and good. Loriís scallops were excellent. A little pricey, but the service and food was good.

Watermark Grille - 11280 North Tamiami Trail, Naples, 941-596-1400
This restaurant is located on the far north end of Naples, practically in Bonita Springs. We drove up there our last night. The restaurant is very new and the decor is upscale. It was 6 p.m. on a Friday night...we didnít have reservations and were handed an electronic coaster/beeper that lit up like the Starship Enterprise when it was our turn. We didnít even have to go to the bar...our magic coaster lit up in five minutes. The restaurant is circular, with two levels, and the theme is water (a waterfall behind the bar, and scenes of water throughout the restaurant). Our waitress was very professional and recommended their Saganaki as an appetizer (a house specialty). We took her up on it and were pleasantly surprised. It is a more obscure type of Italian cheese flambeed table-side in Ouzo, accompanied with bread for dipping. It was yummy. Keith had the Linguini Agli Olio with chicken...tasty, but once again, too much. Lori had the crab legs. They were good, but not the best she ever had. Dinner was a pleasant experience and well worth the drive to the top of Naples.

Nightlife

Honestly, we dined early most nights and returned to our beautiful vacation home and relaxed in the spa...except for the very last night...

Dry Dock Bar & Grill - Davis Blvd. & Fifth Avenue, Naples.
We actually tried to go there for dinner one night, but there were a bunch of motorcycles in the parking lot and a band that looked like it had camped outside on the spur of the moment. In addition, it seemed the only drink available was Coors Light in cans. We passed and decided to return later. We did...on a Friday nightl, when Sal & Bob were playing. Well, they were trying, anyway. This place definitely has a personality crisis. The inside was clean and cool and seemed to be a seafood restaurant. The outdoor area had a couple bars (we sat at one under a great big thatched roof), with TVs showing sports and the afore-mentioned Sal & Bob in an alcove. The mix of people was different...a combination of bikers and senior citizens fresh from the local Moose lodge. No kidding. But, boy, did they enjoy Sal & Bob. Weíre still trying to figure that out, because we thought some kids on air guitar may have been able to do a better job. But...everyone was having fun, and we were too. They also have karaoke at the Dry Dock a couple nights a week...Lori was disappointed we missed that.

Weather

We found out the April was the dry season, which was good because we only had rain on one day. In addition, we had three very gorgeous days of sun and low humidity. But...when itís dry, there can be brush fires, as we also found out. (It never got closer than about 6 miles away, but it was a little scary one day...) Use your common sense; Florida is great in the winter and spring, hot in the summer, and prone to hurricanes in the fall.

Tips/Suggestions

We visited Pinch-A-Penny Pool-Patio-Spa (2301 Davis Blvd., Naples, 941-732-8233), which had a great selection of floating lounges and other pool accessories. We found two great lounges at bargain prices. Our salesman was most friendly and helpful...he was semi-retired and had relocated to southwest Florida from Buffalo, New York, and was happy to be in the sunbelt. He told us, "You carry a snow shovel, and when you get far south enough that people ask what it is, you know youíre in a good place."