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Naples Tourist Center Blog

Great Weather in Naples Florida … and a Celebrity Encounter!

March 21st, 2009

by Marlene Graham

Right now in Naples Florida  I am sitting at work with my door open. I understand that at the present time in other parts of the country, this would not be advisable.  : )

Out my door I see parents pushing strollers, lots of international visitors, people just sauntering along enjoying the great weather. At 9:33 a.m., all appears bright and sunny, though we might get some rain. Truth is, though, we need the rain!

The good news for me is that my daughter and son-in-law (Courtney and David Sharifie) moved back to Naples from California a few months back, before Christmas in fact, which has been such a treat for me and for my 16 year old son, Collier. My husband of more than 20 years (my children’s father) passed away three years ago, so the last few holidays have been tinged with sadness. But it has been very uplifting having them here this past holiday season and hopefully for many more in the future as they launch their Naples real estate careers. And though Collier won’t always admit it, I know he is so much happier that they are providing him with emotional support.

Now as we’ve entered into 2009, the real estate and tourism businesses in Naples (Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero included) seem to be picking up dramatically. In terms of Naples area real estate, the under 300s market is on fire. It’s a terrible time to be a seller, but a phenomenal time to be a buyer. People are picking up condos two blocks from the beach in Olde Naples for under 300,000. And you can buy a 2005-build in a bundled golf community such as Forest Glen and Cedar Hammock as low as in the 130s, but with plenty of choices under $200,000.

I think part of our burgeoning business is that Business Week and Money magazine have finally started to print articles basically saying stop worrying about the bottom in Naples Florida and start buying if you want to make our version of Disney World your home because once the prices start back up they will take off like a locomotive and you could get priced out very quickly. That certainly happened after the last peak to trough from 1988 to 1996. And truthfully we are almost back to 1999 prices in some cases for 2006 product. So we have lots of room for forward movement.

Our Naples beaches are still looking beautiful. And the cold weather up north has certainly brought us a nice share of visitors. Many from Canada. We expect they will stay longer this year than last.

Oh, a funny story you might enjoy. I was having a quick lunch at the tikki bar of Naples Bay Resort the other day chatting with a fellow to my right who was from Connecticut. As I did, a fellow popped up onto the barstool to my left and said hello. I felt immediately as though I was looking into the face of someone I had known for years, but had never actually met. Kinda eerie I know.

Well my mind is racing and though I’m thinking I know who this fellow might be, I’m not quite sure. Not wanting to look silly, the journalist in me started asking some leading questions. After introducing him to the fellow to my right and indicating he was from Guilford, Connecticut, I asked our newcomer friend where he hailed from. He grew up in Bridgeport Connecticut, he said. Since I’ve traveled all 50 states of America three times, even writing a book about those adventures (Headfirst Into America), I had been to Bridgeport a couple of times and so we chatted about my minimal knowledge of Bridgeport which largely centered around it being the stomping grounds and hometown of PT Barnum. Then I asked him where he lived currently. The answer: Los Angeles. Hmmm. A few minutes later I threw in, so I work in real estate and I created the Naples Tourist Center on 5th Avenue South. So what do you do? He said he had recently been doing some work for Direct TV. I told him my daughter had also worked for DirectTV as a reporter for Wam! America’s Kidz Network when she was young. He wasn’t sure he’d heard of Wam!

I’m still thinking I know this guy, but he’s not giving me any direct clues. And I don’t want to ask him if he is who I think he is because he might just be a look-alike. And really no one likes to look silly, myself included. Then this fellow’s beautiful daughter walks up to talk with him (She was with a boyfriend maybe???) and they decide to sit at a table by the pool for lunch. As he introduces me to the couple, he hops off the barstool. Suddenly my chance to nail down who this fellow is starts slipping away and so I blurt out: “By the way, I don’t think I have formally introduced myself. My name is Marlene Graham. He shakes my hand: “Nice to meet you. My name is John Ratzenberger.”

Yep. I met Cliffy from Cheers (Cliff Claven) on a barstool.

Is that classic or what?

That’s the thing about Naples. You never know who you will meet. And yes, I am told that John does have a place in Naples. I know Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin) does — or did. Along with novelist Robin Cook, former NBA player Larry Bird, former NFL player Mike Dikta, singer Bob Seger, and pro golfer Rocco Mediate, among others. Wilkipedia says that Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg also have places here, but I have never substantiated that. However, for those of you who are BIG fans of pest control along the Southeastern Seaboard of America, I can tell you that TRULY NOLEN does indeed live here.  :  )


December 25th, 2008

Hello everyone

Today we are officially launching our site NaplesTouristCenter.com. We still have some tweaking to do, but hopefully you and I and all of the rest of us who love this community will see this site as an information source to which we can continually turn to promote the good things about Naples.

I had a conversation with a couple at Campiello’s restaurant on Christmas Eve. They were taking a break from the relatives in for the season and talking about their lives. The wife was from Buffalo, New York orginally and the husband from Boston. They actually met in Naples several years back though mutual friends and now have a young child that they are going to be putting into the school system this next year. Probably at St. Ann’s. The mother was lamenting the fact that it wasn’t cold enough to be Christmas and even though I told her it snows on Thursdays during the season on 3rd Street South, she said that just wasn’t enough. (For the unitiated, our snow is courtesy of snow machines located under the street lights.) But she didn’t want me to get her comments wrong. She wasn’t complaining about the winter season here. She just wanted to be teleported for ONE day to a cold spot just for Christmas festivities and teleported back.

Okay, seems like a reasonable request if for no other reason than to return with an appreciation for the “coolness” of our warm town.

My daughter Courtney and her husband David Sharifie have just moved back to Naples from California. They both grew up here and could not wait to leave because Naples in their words back then was soooo boring. Two years later, they are back by choice and lo and behold, hmmmm, Naples wasn’t so bad after all. No doubt distance makes the heart grow fonder.

So enough of all this community adulation, though I would like to end this short initial post by saying that I’ve traveled all 50 states of America. I’ve been on Oprah, the Today show, Donny and Marie, CNN, The View, etc. etc about my travels through all 50 states (three times in my life, yikes!), and at the end of it all — at the end of meeting some of the very greatest, very coolest people in America (and by the way, I should point out that the couple I met at Campiello’s emphasized THEIR coolness and I could certainly see that) — Naples is where I chose to move and rear my family and relaunch my careers of travel writing and real estate. And so there you have it.

If you have some great pictures of Naples, we’d be glad to post them. If you want to tell me some cool stories of Naples, bring ‘em on. If you want us to add some categories, let us know. Hey let’s make this site a celebration of our town (You qualify in calling Naples your town, even if you are just a visitor because you most likely carry our town in your heart) — and let’s make the lives we lead here the envy of the world!

Yours in the holiday season

Marlene Graham  (marlenegraham@earthlink.net)