Here & Now
Isn’t it exhilarating when a powerful truth is revealed to you? A voilà! moment, when a secret of the universe flits into your head and makes everything perfectly clear. It happened to me last fall in my friends’ basement near Montreal. Actually it’s a guest room: the former bedroom of the daughter who graduated from college and moved to the city. It wasn’t until I woke up the first morning feeling spectacularly refreshed that I noticed no light streaming through the windows. Because there were no windows. When I joined the family in the kitchen, it turned out to be closer to lunchtime than breakfast time.
Clearly, I had stumbled on a secret of the universe-blackout sleep. I vaguely remembered from a tour of Thomas Edison’s estate here on the Caloosahatchee River that the great inventor himself was known to take naps in his closet. In his diary he wrote that he slept “… sound as a bug in a barrel of morphine.”
I decided to try it. I set up my AeroBed in an empty, freshly steam-cleaned walk-in closet. I added cushy padding, a decadent feather-top mattress cover, my favorite down pillow and soft Ralph Lauren sheets the color of the sea. And I slept for 11 hours.
Despite a few smirks and snide remarks from so-called friends, I knew I was onto something: the luxury sleeping closet! I’m not talking about those coffin-like sleep cubicles in some Japanese hotels, or the silly giant eggs that look like something in a ’60s sci-fi movie. I’m talking Ritz-Carlton quality—luxe-to-the-max, cozy, totally light-free, distraction-free space.
Sharing the Secret
So I immediately called Jorian Weiner, public relations director for The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, which is one of the most glittery jewels in the crown of all Ritz-Carltons worldwide. I wondered if they, too, know the secret—that perhaps such a sleeping cocoon is currently on the drawing board. If not, because The Ritz-Carlton and I are both longtime members of this community, there would be no charge for introducing the concept.
“I can check with corporate,” Jorian says kindly, “but I’m fairly certain that a tiny room with no windows doesn’t fit the Ritz-Carlton brand. We’re more about spacious, light-filled suites, maximizing our stunning views. But we do have such a concept in our spa.” She reminded me of The Ritz-Carlton Spa’s signature Drift to Sleep relaxation journey (80 minutes, $240; 110 minutes, $295). I checked the description on the spa menu:
“… Specialized journey designed to help release physical and mental energy by promoting sleep at a deep state of sub-consciousness … for an over-active mind or sleep-deprived individual … transition into an alpha state of sleep … nap on a warm feather duvet … awaken refreshed, renewed …”
Exactly! Of course, the Drift to Sleep therapy does come with an aromatherapy milk bath and one of The Ritz-Carlton’s legendary massages. Still, with all due respect to The Ritz-Carlton, I’m going with Thomas Edison on this one.
A True Voilà! Moment
Speaking of voilà! moments, I’m not sure exactly when French chefs/restaurateurs Lisa and Philippe Boet had theirs, but wait till you see their new French bistro, Chez Boët, on 12th Avenue South in Naples. It’s not new, actually. It’s a transformation. The romantic new name and charming décor are far better reflections of the Boëts’ delicious French country cooking and gracious hospitality than the former name, Bamboo Café.
Philippe, co-owner, host and bartender, is from the Loire region of France, where he grew up appreciating fine Loire Valley wines. Lisa, co-owner, host and chef, became a French national after spending nine years in Paris, where they met. Their wedding reception was held in the Chateau de Vauloge, near the little village of Sable sur Sarthe in the Loire region. Très romantique! They still return as often as they can to their second home, the French countryside.
Transformation is also in the air at the Naples Botanical Garden, where Tai Chi instructor Karen Atkins conducts life-changing energy flow exercise classes each Thursday morning through March 29. Just $15 ($10 for members) gets you 50 minutes of gentle stretching movements in the tranquil setting of the Scott Florida Garden. That includes admission to the gardens.
We who weren’t born here in Paradise understand the joy of transformation. It’s what happened when we came here in the first place. It’s what happens over the water at sunset, when the skies evolve from cerulean blue to spectacular lavenders, reds, yellows and golds. It’s what happens when we realize, while dining alfresco at some sidewalk café or riverside patio, that the temperature is a perfect 70 degrees. And it’s March.
See you in the garden or beneath the sunset. In the meantime, bon appétit and sweet dreams.
Chez Boët, Naples
(239) 643-6177; 725 12th Ave. S., Crayton Cove; chezboetnaples.com
Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples
(239) 598-3300; ritzcarlton.com
Naples Botanical Garden, Naples
(239) 643-7275; naplesgarden.org
Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
(239) 334-7419; 2350 McGregor Blvd. edisonfordwinterestates.org