If you’re not a member, but you’re lucky enough to at least know a member, or if you get invited to an event at one of Naples private clubs, here are some you should never turn down.
The Friday seafood buffet at Royal Poinciana Country Club is only offered during the winter and is a stunning display of fresh crab, shrimp, lobster and seafood items that vary weekly. I’ve had the best bouillabaisse of my life at this buffet, made fresh just for me by the French chef. Spoiled me forever. My good friends who are members (did I mention how wonderful they were?) know I’m always available on Friday nights.
Reaching even more mythic proportions is the weekly winter seafood buffet at the Port Royal Club. This beautiful club sits at the south end of Gordon Drive in Naples. And if gorging on fresh seafood isn’t enticing enough for you, this beach-based club features a live sunset every night for entertainment.
The third in this trio of exclusive Naples clubs is the much quieter Old Collier Golf Club on Highway 41 just north of Immokalee Road. Most people don’t even know the club sits here on 267 pristine acres in the heart of North Naples. While the club serves only lunch and limited dinners for members and their guests, I’ve been fortunate to attend a couple of special events at Old Collier where the food is imaginative and delicious. And the golf is pretty good too.
The Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club is located at the extreme south end of Naples Bay at Gordon Pass. A lighthouse marks the entrance to this members-only club across from Bayview Park, the Collier County boat launch. The Hamilton Harbor fuel dock is open to the public and sells non-ethanol fuel just one mile in from the Gulf of Mexico. The clubhouse is known for great food and beautiful views over Naples Bay. Their Miso Calamari is a sweet/spicy mix of fried calamari, hot peppers, frisee lettuce and cherry tomatoes that I dream about. I try to coax an invitation from a friend who is a member here any chance I can think of an excuse. Isn’t it my birthday again?
The final club on this list is the least expensive but most difficult to get into. The Cove Yacht Club is a funky, casual chickee hut bar behind the Cove Inn. Just 150 members pay a small annual fee to get one of the best bar seats in town right on Naples Bay. The waiting list is at least three years long to get a membership here where everybody knows your name and where riding out hurricanes earns you the right to carve your name on one of the posts holding up the palm frond roof.