There’s nothing better than finding those shoes you've been coveting on sale and in your size. It seems everyone – the rich and famous included – loves a bargain, whether it’s those designer stilettos or a luxury tropical vacation. A free night at a beachfront resort for booking a three-day stay? Done! A $99 massage? Sign right up! A multi-course prix-fixe gourmet meal? Who wouldn't be there?
There’s one Florida destination that combines both luxury travel with bargaining – thanks to the super-secret VIP card (pick one up at one of five area visitor centers), which offers thousands in savings throughout Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades. This card (OK, it’s not that super-secret; you can check it out online) entitles bearers to the VIP treatment along the Paradise Coast, which boasts palm-fringed, sun-kissed beaches; the omnipresent Gulf of Mexico; and cultural and culinary offerings that have been attracting A-listers for decades. Plus, this time of year, beaches and boutiques are less crowded, and impromptu dinner decisions don’t require a reservation.
Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with kids, the Values in Paradise card combined with Paradise Priced Perfectly (www.ParadiseCoast.com/deals) features a world of luxury possibilities without breaking the bank. Cardholders enjoy premier accommodations, amenities and activities (think world-class golf courses, swoon-worthy spas, dolphin and manatee excursions, even boat rentals and resort credits) at a fraction of the usual price.
Seek the Beach
The area’s more than 30 miles of white-sand beaches and aqua-tinged Gulf waters are yours to enjoy free if you’re staying at a beachfront resort, and just pocket change for parking if you aren’t. Either way, it’s one of the best deals in town – and you don’t have to close your eyes and pretend you’re in a tropical oasis.
The Royal Treatment
Browse “Princess Diana: Dresses of Inspiration,” the von Liebig Art Center’s exclusive-to-Naples exhibit featuring a $10-million collection of dresses, before embarking on your own retail therapy: designer boutiques (Hermes and Gucci, among others) at Waterside Shops and one-of-a-kind retailers along Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South, home to Vogue darling Marissa Collections. Bonus: Pre-summer clearance sales.
Book that $99 midweek massage or a $49 couple’s day pass (champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries included) at The Spa at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, or splurge on any of the packages at the Golden Door Spa, the first on the East Coast. Relax in an overstuffed armchair with a glass of wine at Mercato’s high-end Silverspot movie theater, and justify the slightly pricier ticket with the extra elbow room and absence of cell phone-talking teens.
Savor the Flavor
Feast on five-star fare that’s locally caught and created – and not necessarily more expensive. The area’s restaurants serve up fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood and international cuisine at sidewalk cafes and beachfront venues, plus gator tail or frog legs in Everglades City. Unwind with a Sunny’s Delight cocktail and dueling pianos at The Keys Bar & Grille, Naples’ newest and longest bar; make your own Bloody Mary during The Dock’s Sunday brunch; or hobnob with bikers and professionals at Southwest Florida’s largest party, offered every Sunday afternoon at Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland.
To plan your own getaway to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades, visit www.paradisecoast.com.