The Teddy Bear Tea at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, an annual tradition in town, is the best answer for parents and grandparents looking to ply children on Santa’s “nice” list with cocoa and holiday cheer—but pass on the chaos of large crowds and long lines.
An hour and a half of quality time with your youngsters starts right upon entry, as kids (and adults!) are transfixed by the lobby’s 12-foot-tall gingerbread house. The resort’s pastry chefs tirelessly work around the clock after Thanksgiving to assemble it, and it stays up throughout the holiday season. More than 120,000 pieces of candy and 2,000 gingerbread “shingles” make it the spectacle it is—and if you connect the gum drops, you’ll notice the 280 above the house’s cookie-clad front door mimics the address of the hotel on Vanderbilt Beach Road.
Mom, Dad, or Grandma and Grandpa can unwind over a dainty pot of tea, while kids dive into hot cocoa and plates of holiday sweets (at least Jack Frost is nipping ever-so-slightly at our noses now). As you settle into the plush lobby settees, oversize teddy bears recreate a scene you’d find in The Nutcracker or the Velveteen Rabbit’s playroom. Story time with holiday tales and a visit from the jolly red-suited man himself complete the experience. Each child gets to take home a cuddly bear as a memento for the day, but parents be warned: There is no individual time or pictures with Saint Nick—a detail we’ll gladly overlook for the relative calm of such a potentially frenzied afternoon.
$59 per person
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples
To reserve, call (239) 598-6644.
Dec. 12, 13: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2:30-4 p.m.
Dec. 17, 18: 2:30-4 p.m.
Dec. 19-23: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2:30 -4 p.m.