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Shula’s & Hilton Naples, Florida: A Home Away From Home
By Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer
It had been a little more than a year since we'd been at the Hilton-Naples. The weather was warmer then, welcoming enough to spend the bulk of an afternoon in the broad spread of a larger neighboring property, taking in the expanse of a huge swimming pool, surrounded by chaise-lounges and drinking the tropical concoctions served by waiters balancing trays of tropical drinks and hors oeuvres.
But already we could tell this stay would be different. The expansive lobby area of the Hilton, for one thing, seemed more inviting than last we saw it. Walls were brighter, the result of fresh coats of cream-colored paint; sizable arches -- simple in structure yet marked by Moorish design-- seemed to be gateways to different areas. But it was still welcoming cream-colored shades and sizable arches leading guests from one area to another.
We learned early on in our stay that a completion of comprehensive renovation was completed in January 2016. Modern design updates, all types of renovations. brand new furnishings and lobby enhancements, intelligent and intriguing guest room makeovers were all part of the refurbishment that transformed the look and feel of what already been a prime property now into something that was prime plus.
The lobby of the hotel with its attractively unique imported stone and marble construction was given more original artwork, new seating, tables, lighting and carpeting. Newer wall coverings enhanced guest corridors and public areas.
The affable and highly competent Clark Hill, hotel general manager, noted: “All 199 stylishly-appointed guest rooms and 13 suites have been completely redesigned and offer a luxurious Hilton Serenity Bed, new plush seating, carpet, window treatment. Bathrooms received all new tile and plumbing fixtures, new vanity, wall covering and backlit mirror. And new artwork completes the brand new look.”
To top all of the enhancement, all guests at Hilton Naples guests are treated to complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access and free on-site parking.
All this being said, the crown jewel of the Hilton Naples remains Shula’s:
Looked over and so capably managed by Tom Donahue, Shula’s is the place to be when one is in Naples.
G.M. TOM DONAHUE
Immaculate, serviced by an attentive and highly honed in staff, Shula’s feels immediately like a home away from home. The feeling remains throughout the meal with every one of your needs ably taken care of. Special kudos go to Nate Wagner, server par excellence, who is intelligent, caring, knows his way around the menu ,the bar and shares his great knowledge with diners.
The menu has many options (see below) and whether you are there for breakfast, lunch dinner, as lots of guests are, food is fresh, carefully prepared and delivered on time and tastefully to the table.
The man behind this vast, winning and wonderful Shula’s enterprise is Tom Donahue, steak house General Manager. He takes pride in the international staff, the work force that speaks many languages, the effort they put forth. His management style is hands on and at the same time laid back – two difficult things to multitask, but Tom is a master of being both. That is just one of the reasons why under the affable Donahue’s efforts, Shula’s has earned recognition as the “Best Steak House in Southwest Florida”
The other part of the team who deserves much credit is one who oversees all things culinary at Shula’s (and also the Hilton Naples hotel’s in-room dining, banquet and meeting facilities -- Cesar Fernandez.
Executive Chef, CESAR FERNANDEZ
Shula’s has won many prestigious awards with Fernandez at the helm. Inventive, original, completely involved in all aspects of his “kitchen” and dining rooms, the upbeat chef has an impressive resume that includes many four and five diamond rated properties in Florida and Puerto Rico.
With all that it has going for it, with the most capable people running the entire operation, Shula’s & Hilton Naples, Florida: A Home Away From Home, is truly the place to put on your list.
We have been in our long travel writing career at many fine properties and dined in superb restaurants. This Florida gem of gems ranks right up there with the best of them.
(Photographs: HILTON, NAPLES)
The Frommers are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. They are acclaimed oral historians, co-authors of the six highly praised works: It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, and It Happened in Miami. They are at work on IT HAPPENED IN ISRAEL.
The Frommers are professors of oral history in the Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth College. They are also prolific travel writers whose articles on national and international destinations and Jewish communities around the world have appeared in outlets including The New York Times, Newsday, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Haaretz, The Forward, Golf Digest, International Herald Tribune, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Sporting News, and Men’s Health. Accomplished and charismatic public speakers, the Frommers have spoken before live audiences and on the media throughout the United States lecturing on their books and travel experiences.
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