Naples Botanical Garden Night Lights 2018

Can you believe that Christmas Eve takes place just two weeks from today? That’s incredible! Did you watch the Naples Boat Parade of Lights last week? Dozens of beautifully decorated boats floated along the Venetian Bay. Gorgeous! Looking for more fun Christmas-time things to do this season? Check out the Naples Botanical Garden Night Lights 2018. Millions of lights set the garden aglow each night into the new year.

If you thought the Naples Botanical Garden was beautiful during the day, it's absolutely magical during its Night Lights 2018 event now through Jan 3rd, 2019.

What: Naples Botanical Garden Night Lights 2018
Where: 4820 Bayshore Dr
When: Now thru Jan 3rd (closed Dec 24th, 25th & 31st) 6 pm to 9 pm
Admission: $5-$25
Contact: Naples Botanical Garden (239) 643-7275

Naples Botanical Garden Night Lights 2018

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While the garden provides a lovely walk through its natural beauty during the daytime, it outdoes itself in elegance and grace when night falls. From 6 pm to 9 pm every evening, Naples Botanical Garden takes on a distinguished glimmer courtesy of Night Lights 2018. In addition to the millions of twinkling lights throughout the garden, guests enjoy live music performed by talented local artists.

Fogg Cafe serves light refreshments to guests (for a fee) each night as well. And, while you’re there, pick up unique Christmas presents for your loved ones at the Naples Botanical Garden’s gift shop. December 14th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 29th & 30th includes your chance to wish upon the Wishing Tree. But the tree only makes its appearance on those special days.

Naples Botanical Garden Night Lights 2018 Tickets

Tickets for Night Lights 2018 cost $20 per adult and $10 per child ages 4 to 14 through December 14th. After that, they cost $25 per adult and $15 per child ages 4 to 14. Children under the age of 4 enter free of charge (but still need a ticket). Are you a Naples Botanical Garden member? pay just $10 per adult and $5 per child any night during the Naples Botanical Garden’s Night Lights 2018. Members can purchase their tickets online here. Non-members can purchase their tickets ahead of time online here.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples and Marco Island Boat Parades 2018

The holidays are in full swing here in Southwest Florida. Just before Thanksgiving, we saw the Naples Christmas tree light up for the first time this year. After that, we experienced the 3rd St Celebration of Lights. Now that we’ve entered the final month of 2018, we have the Naples and Marco Island boat parades to look forward to. And they start up tomorrow.

You can't have Christmas in Southwest Florida without the Naples and Marco Island boat parades. Create timeless holiday memories for free.

Naples and Marco Island Boat Parades 2018

Naples Boat Parade 2018

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Visit the Village Shops on Venetian Bay tomorrow night (December 4th). Beginning at 5 pm, guests enjoy live entertainment, a snow show, balloon art, and carolers performing. Get your face painted while you wait for the boats to pass by in the bay. Listen up as Mrs. Claus tells stories of Christmases past. Then, grab your camera for a photo-op with Santa Claus. Admission to the Naples Boat Parade 2018 is absolutely free.

Marco Island Boat Parade 2018

If you’re in Marco Island this weekend, stick around for nightfall. At 6 pm, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce hosts their annual Marco Island Boat Parade. Your best view takes place from The Esplanade (760 N Collier Blvd). Dozens of decorated boats float by boasting thousands of twinkling lights right out on the water. This is truly a sight you will want to behold!

The Naples and Marco Island Boat Parades aren’t the only fun events taking place in the next couple of weeks. Fifth Ave South hosts a grand outdoor tuba concert to celebrate the season as well. Listen to 70 musicians of all ages as they play Christmas classics on the tuba. With no seating available, feel free to bring your own chair to Sugden Plaza at 6:30 pm on Friday, December 14th. The concert only lasts for one hour. Then, continue with your holiday shopping at Fifth Ave South’s fine shops. Take some time to enjoy the season everyone!

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Why Choose Quartz Over Granite for Your Kitchen Renovation?

Granite has been a staple in many Naples and Marco Island homes for years now. In recent years, this beautiful high-end finish began to steadily lose popularity points to quartz. Why have builders, designers, and homeowners begun to choose quartz over granite for their kitchen renovation projects? More choices, easier maintenance, and a more eco-friendly option to name just a few.

When choosing countertops for a kitchen renovation, designers and builders alike have begun to move away from granite and embrace quartz.

Kitchen Renovation: Quartz vs Granite

More to Choose From

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In your kitchen renovation, quartz provides more options to choose from than granite. While it looks like stone, it can be engineered to match just about any color scheme. Whether you want a lighter material or a darker color, manufacturers can create any color you want. Natural granite, on the other hand, sticks predominantly to the white, gray or pink families.

Lower Maintenance

Another reason quartz rose to the top of the list with kitchen renovation is because it is so much easier to maintain than granite. Even the best chefs spill things in the kitchen (greasy food, juice, oil, wine). These all stain the porous surface of granite, ruining its beautiful design. Quartz handles these spills like a pro. Unlike granite, simple soap and water clean up quartz in a snap. It’s also scratch-resistant and won’t stain or discolor due to hot items being placed on it. Even so, you probably shouldn’t leave sizzling hot pans directly on quartz.

Costs Less Than Exotic Granite Slabs

While some granite actually costs less than engineered quartz, the more exotic granite slabs cost more. Large kitchen islands require a large slab of granite. This can be difficult to locate. In that case, you’ll need to find two slabs of granite similar in color and design. Otherwise, the whole island looks “off”. That means cutting the slabs to match each other. With quartz, the manufacturer creates the exact size, color, and design you want. No extra cost. No waste.

More Eco-Friendly

Finally, with your kitchen renovation, quartz tends to be more eco-friendly. Granite must be quarried and, sometimes, imported (depending on where you get it from). Stick with local quartz manufacturers to cut down on transportation. Also, check out salvage shops like Home & Salvage on Taylor in Naples. They might have quartz pieces you can utilize in your own kitchen renovation for a fraction of what granite costs.

Marco Island Christmas Tree Lighting

On a totally different note, if you missed the Christmas Tree Lighting festivities in Naples last week, it’s OK. The Marco Island Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony takes place this Saturday at Veterans Community Park. Just make sure you’re there before 6 pm so you don’t miss a moment of the fun. Besides, you don’t want to miss a visit from Santa, do you?

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples FL Named Best Place to Retire in the South

You spend your entire life working so that you can eventually retire in peace. Where do you want to spend your retirement years? How about in a place that SmartAsset.com named the best place to retire in the south? That would be right here in Naples FL.

Looking for a place to spend your sunset years? Smart Asset just named Naples FL as its pick for the Best Place to Retire in the South.

Naples FL: Best Place to Retire in the South

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If you already live here, you know what Naples FL has to offer. But why exactly did Smart Asset place it at the top of its “Best Places to Retire in the South” list? Naples FL provides a welcome retreat from snowbound living in the wintertime that other cities across the county have to endure. Its abundance of retirement communities (9.66 per every 1000 residents) means that there is a community to fit any lifestyle you enjoy.

Over half of the city’s residents live in a retirement community. But that doesn’t mean that life comes to a standstill. In fact, there is one recreation community for every 1000 residents. Also, the Gulf of Mexico sits right in our own backyard. Can you say “active lifestyle”? And its 14.6% tax burden ties it for the lowest in the whole south. Smart Asset also ranked Naples the top place to retire in the whole state.

How Did Smart Asset Determine Rankings?

Smart Asset considered several statistics that appeal to retirees to determine their Best Place to Retire in the South rankings. The tax burden was one item. But they also took into account available healthcare services and the number of retirement communities. A city’s senior population helped Smart Asset gauge how popular the city was among retirees Since many seniors wish to stay active in their retirement years, the number of recreation centers available for the city’s population was held in high regard as well. Based on these factors, you can easily understand why Naples FL made the top of the list. Congratulations, Naples! If you’d like to find a place to retire here in Naples, FL, give me a call.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples Christmas Tree Lighting & Celebration on 3rd St South

Now, I understand that Christmas is still 43 days away. We celebrate Thanksgiving next week. But, the people in charge of the 3rd St South Shopping District just can’t wait. They get things started early with their 2018 Naples Christmas tree lighting next Monday. And they want to invite everyone to celebrate their kick-off to this holiday season.

3rd St South hosts their annual Naples Christmas tree lighting and celebration of lights the entire week of Thanksgiving 2018...with snow!

What: Naples Christmas Tree Lighting 2018
Where: 3rd St South Shopping District (1300 3rd St S)
When: Monday, November 19th, 6 pm to 9 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: 3rd St South (239) 649-6707

Naples Christmas Tree Lighting 2018

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From 6 pm to 9 pm on November 19th, the 3rd St South Shopping District turns into a winter wonderland. The plaza fills up with Christmas cheer when the mayor officially flips the switch at the Naples Christmas tree lighting. Listen in awe as bells ring from every courtyard in the shopping center. See the living nativity in all its glory at the tree lighting. I hear Santa plans on making an appearance as well. Next, if you believed that it never snows in Florida, you’ll be proven wrong. Every day during Thanksgiving week, snow falls on the plaza promptly at 7 pm. Then, at 7 pm every Thursday in December, expect to see snow falling in the plaza again.

3rd St Celebration of Lights 2018

For the rest of Thanksgiving week (except Thanksgiving Day), visitors can bask in the Celebration of Lights at 3rd St South. From 6 pm to 9 pm each evening, carolers inspire guests with traditional Christmas carols in the Fleischman Courtyard. This tends to be a pretty popular event in Naples at this time of year. So, if you plan on adding dinner to your evening’s plans next week, make reservations at your favorite restaurant ahead of time. Otherwise, you might not find a seat anywhere. You don’t want to miss seeing the snow falling at 7 pm, do you?

It really is the most wonderful time of the year in Naples right now. To prove it, 3rd St South hosts their Naples Christmas tree lighting event on November 19th, with their Celebration of Lights taking place until November 24th (except Thanksgiving night). And they’ve promised snow on the plaza every evening at 7 pm sharp. What a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit!

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Blair Foundation Tree Challenge in Naples

When Hurricane Irma hit the Naples area late last year, it took almost 2000 trees with it. Since then, the City has been hard at work replacing these trees, starting with the main thoroughfares. The Blair Foundation offered up $500,000 in matching donations to help plant even more trees throughout the City over a three year time period. Thus, the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge was created in Naples. But, in order to receive these matching funds, the City needs its citizens to step up and donate as well.

In an effort to replace trees killed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge matches donations dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000.

What is the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge?

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Money works wonders for helping cure all sorts of ills. However, a community is only as good as its inhabitants. With the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge, the foundation hoped to inspire other community members to donate money to the cause. This fosters a much closer sense of community with your fellow neighbors. It also makes you feel like you’re doing your part to make the City a little better.

Each tree costs between $800 and $5000. If of enough Naples’ residents donate, that could mean an additional 200 to 1250 trees in and around our Naples neighborhoods. And this is in addition to the $300,000 the City sets aside each year already to plant trees. The City needs individuals, businesses, social clubs, and HOA’s to donate money towards the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge. If you can afford to donate money individually, that would be awesome. However, not everybody can do it. Ask your company and co-workers to pitch in. Or, talk to the social organization you belong to (Kiwanis, Boy/Girl Scouts, bridge club, yacht, club, etc) about fundraising ideas. Get your neighbors involved. The more that contribute, the more trees we’ll be able to plant. And every dollar you donate is tax deductible!

For more information about the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge, please contact the Naples Community Services Department at (239) 213-7120. Trees are planted twice per year: spring and winter. If you donate now, you’ll be in time for the winter planting season. For 21 years, Naples has been the recipient of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” designation. We want to continue this great honor for years to come. When you become a part of the Blair Foundation Tree Challenge, you help us retain this honor. Please donate what you can. Thank you!

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018

Whether you’re a child in age or a kid at heart, everyone loves to dress up. At the Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018 this Wednesday, kids of all ages are invited to wear their favorite costumes and celebrate All Hallow’s Eve with music, candy, and more along Main St. It doesn’t matter whether you’re one or 101. You won’t want to miss a moment of this Halloween celebration!

Looking for a fun alternative to begging for candy door-to-door? Go downtown for the Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018. Fun for the entire family to enjoy together!

What: Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018
Where: 701 5th Ave S, Naples, FL
When: Wednesday, October 31st, 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: 5th Ave S Business Improvement District (239) 692-8436

Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018

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What’s on the schedule for the Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018? Just a great time for the whole family! Love slime? Let the Mad Scientist show you how it’s made. Create your own goo and then hop aboard the Mad Scientist’s hoverboard for fun. Interact with an actual robot at the Logiscool booth. Visit the pumpkin patch for cool photo opportunities. In the KidsZone at Snugden Plaza, the Napa Players show children a spooktacular good time with face-painting, (play) sword-fighting, dancing, games, candy, and a live performance by the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher.

Live music creates a wonderful ambiance for the Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018. Throughout the entire event, several different musical acts perform for the crowds. These acts include The Bumbles (for the little kids), The Woodwork (folk and jazz indie music), blues singer/guitarist Steve Hill and local favorite Gianna Minichiello, DJ Messina, and acoustic duo Jay Stollman and Renan Nerone. Our very own North Naples Church Worship Band also plans on entertaining the crowd with their live music as well.

Admission to the Naples Halloween on 5th Spooktacular 2018 event is absolutely free. Several downtown restaurants will be open during the event as well. Don’t leave your bags at home. Bring them with you and fill them up with all treats (no tricks) when you go trick-or-treating at the local vendors on 5th Ave. Happy Halloween!
Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018 in Naples

In addition to the beautiful scenery we experience here in Southwest Florida, we also enjoy amazing food prepared by some extremely talented local chefs. At the Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018 in Naples, these chefs gather together at Cambier Park to share their culinary skills with you. And you get to sample some amazing wines and craft beer along with each scrumptious bite.

Enjoy live demonstrations, cooking classes, wine and food samplings and so much more at the Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018.

What: Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018
Where: Cambier Park (8th St S, Naples, FL)
When: Saturday, October 27th, 1 pm to 4 pm
Admission: $65 to $135
Contact: Norris Center Box Office (239) 213-3049

Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018

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The featured celebrity chef at Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018 is Scott Conant. Scott is a renowned chef and restaurateur as well as one of the featured judges on “Chopped”. He’ll be joined by local favorites like Brook Kravetz from La Playa Beach & Golf Resort’s Baleen Naples, Jason Mallon with Ocean Prime, and Jacob Jasinski with Sails Restaurant, just to name a few. In fact, all in all, 31 of the top local restaurants send their top chefs to cook especially for you at this annual event. So, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to dine with the best.

Martha Stewart Experience at Pacific Coast WFE

One of the things that makes Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018 so special is the Martha Stewart Experience. Underneath a huge tent, guests enter the world of Martha Stewart. You’ll find several items in her lifestyle collections, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and so much more. Whatever you need to make your home dining and entertaining experience better, Martha has it. And you can have it, too.

Ticket Packages for Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018

All guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend. Those without a valid ID could get turned away at the door. Choose between two separate ticket packages for the Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018: Grand Tasting and VIP. For $65 (presale), the Grand Tasting package includes wine and beer tastings, unlimited samplings of food, and access to live demonstrations, seminars, interactive cooking classes, and the Martha Stewart Experience. For $120 (presale), the VIP adds early access to the event, entry into the VIP lounge with premium wine tastings and hors d’oeuvres, and VIP bathroom access in addition to everything included in the Grand Tasting package. If you wait until the day of the event, you’ll pay $100 for the Grand Tasting package and $135 for VIP. Purchase tickets online right now by visiting the Paradise Coast Wine and Food Experience 2018 website here.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos 

2018 Naples International Film Festival

Toronto. Cannes. Tribeca. Sundance. Naples, Florida? Yes. For the last 10 years, Naples has welcomed filmmakers from all over the world. The 2018 Naples International Film Festival looks to be the biggest selection in the festival’s history. Any film-lover worth their salt won’t want to miss an opportunity to view these movies before anyone else does.

The 2018 Naples International Film Festival hosts 60 screenings of movies made by filmmakers from all over the world.

What: 2018 Naples International Film Festival
Where: Artis-Naples (5833 Pelican Bay Blvd) & Silverspot Cinema
When: October 25th to 28th
Contact: Artis-Naples (239) 597-1900/(800) 597-1900

2018 Naples International Film Festival

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Over a four-day period, guests of the 2018 Naples International Film Festival have a chance to view 60 different screenings and hear from the filmmakers of each themselves. The films range from quirky narratives to insightful documentaries as well as bundles of interesting short films and promising student films. This year’s feature film for opening night is The Drummer and the Keeper, an Irish drama about living life with a mental illness. The cost to attend the opening night film, including walking the red carpet, is $69 per person. Reserve your opening night tickets online here.

From 10 am to 10 pm over the rest of the 2018 Naples International Film Festival, dozens of other films will be shown at the Silverspot Cinema in Naples. Purchase tickets for each individual screening. Or bundle them up and pay just $55 for four movies. To set up your own viewing schedule, take a look at the 2018 Naples International Film Festival’s quick guide here.

Closing Ceremonies for the 2018 Naples International Film Festival

Beginning at 5:30 pm on Sunday, October 28th, guests at the 2018 Naples International Film Festival closing ceremonies will be served some delicious food while filmmakers receive their awards on-stage. Steve Martin and Martin Short perform their act live after the awards presentation. Unfortunately, tickets to see their show have already been sold out. But, it’s not too late to pick up tickets for the awards ceremony. Tickets cost $50 per person and can be purchased online here.

By supporting the arts in Naples, you also support art around the world. And if you love movies, you’ll love the 2018 Naples International Film Festival. Get your tickets today!

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos 

Moving Tip: Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?

What part of the Naples home buying experience do people dislike the most? Moving! Sure, you’re excited because you get to move into a new home. However, the logistics of a move create more stress to your already busy lifestyle. This week’s moving tip asks the question should you DIY or hire a pro?

When moving from one house to another, do you prefer doing it yourself or hiring a professional moving company? What moving tip would you give someone moving for the first time?

Moving Tip: Should You DIY or Hire a Pro?

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Pro

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Pros: When you hire a professional to help you move into your new Naples/Marco Island home, they handle all the heavy lifting…literally. Many companies provide packing services as well. All you have to do is tell them where to place your furniture and boxes. If something gets damaged in the move, a reputable moving company is insured to cover it. With professionals, you won’t have to take off work to complete your move. They trudge on while you go about your daily routine.

Cons: Primarily, the cost. Homeowners pay much more for this service than they would to do it themselves. If you hire a less-than-reputable moving company, you run the risk of possible theft. Moving Tip: Always research a company’s reputation and ask for references as well as proof of insurance before you hire them on.

Pros and Cons of Doing it for Yourself

Pros: On the flip side, DIY moving jobs cost less. But they’re not free. You might need to rent a truck or van. You’ll need packaging materials (boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc.). Plus, there’s the cost of gas. However, this all tends to add up to much less than hiring professional movers. Another “pro” with moving your property yourself is that you don’t have to worry about anybody stealing anything from you.

Cons: Unless you move things for a living, you run the risk of breaking or damaging your property. You also run the risk of hurting yourself due to moving heavy objects incorrectly. This might even cause you to take time off work in order to heal. Moving Tip: Pack lighter things (like bedding, towels, linens, etc.) in with heavier items (books, dinnerware, cookware). Use medium-sized boxes. This reduces the chances of you overpacking and hurting yourself in the move.

Should You DIY or Should You Pro?

When it comes right down to it, the choice is yours. If you can afford it, let the professionals handle the move to your new Naples home. Professionals work well for cross-country or state-to-state moves as well. On the other hand, you might have a big family or lots of good friends who are willing to help you with your move. In that case, save yourself a few bucks and do it yourself, especially if it’s within a short distance.

Which method did you use in the past to move from house to house? Which one do you prefer? What moving tip would you tell someone weighing the pros and cons of hiring a professional moving company or doing it themselves? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos