Snow birds and vacationers looking for warm weather migrated to Florida and other no-snow spots.
NAPLES is the mecca of Florida's west coast, and is catching up to the Atlantic's gold coast, Palm Beach, when it comes to big money. It has the most golf courses in the nation per capita. When in Naples, you can only walk a few blocks before you run into someone from Toledo. So many, in fact, Naples should be nicknamed Toledo-South.
Deciding where to eat and shop makes one's head whirl! Was that a Kilwin's chocolate place I saw? Naples boasts two Ritz Carltons! A few stops where I dined with Lois and Jerry Sawicki were Vergina, USS Nemo, and D'Amico's for pizza and unlimited house wine. Evoo has a market next door. By the way, jazz man Sawicki just released another CD, "The Two of Us."
A hot spot was the Naples Winter Wine Festival at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort. It's touted as the world's most successful charity wine event. The event netted nearly $14 million to benefit the Naples Children and Education Foundation.
Fifth Third Bank found so many of its Toledo customers in the area that it hosts an annual Toledo party. This year it was at the Ritz Carlton on the beach. Guests included Don and Venice Michel, George and Deborah Chapman, Bill and Carol Connelly, Joel and Shirley Levine, June and Joe Roshe, Jim and Iris Poure, Jim and Teresa Sahadi, Tom and Gretchen Ziems, and Jim and Sue White.
Bowling Green State University had its annual Florida party at the Pelican Bay Club in Naples. Karen Merrels, vacationing in Naples, was at the luncheon.
Also among the Toledoans in Naples are Jalna and Ken MacLaren as well as Tom and Maureen Williams. Former Toledoan Randy Snow and his wife, Jennifer, gave up the cold weather years ago and reside in Pelican Bay in Naples. Ditto for Barb Wenzler.
VANDERBILT Inn, on Vanderbilt Beach is closing for good at the end of the season after nearly 35 years. Like many of the familiar places on the beach open to the public, it will soon be replaced with high-rise condominiums, called Moraya Bay Beach Tower. The luxury residences will start at $3.2 million. Jan Lanfare, Nancy Bischoff, and I took a stroll down memory lane and had a pina colada and perch sandwich as we watched an artist capture history in a painting. It may be one less outdoor cabana bar "Cheekee on the Beach," but others will replace it. On down the beach Geoff and Molly Meyers enjoy their condo.
MIAMI South Beach and the National hotel is fabulous, raves Ellen Craig Archambeau.
SARASOTA was the spot for Ottawa Hills baseball team's spring training. But it is also the winter respite for several Toledoans, including Jerry and Ica Sutter. Permanent residents Catherine and Don Anderson and their daughter are in the same gated community.
LIDO KEY is one of Sharon and Rudolf Schafer's favorite vacation places on Florida's West Coast. The beach is great and St. Armand's Circle is a trolley ride away. Of course, it's not a trip to Sarasota without a meal at the Anna Maria Osyter Bar or the original on Anna Maria Island.
BIRD KEY, just across the bridge from Sarasota on the way to St. Armond's Circle, is where Jerry Springer and his wife have a winter home. I saw them strolling St. Armond's Circle as several gawkers watched them, but no one bothered them.
VENICE is where Karen and Carlton Fraker vacation.
SIESTA KEY is where Larry and Sue Fanelly choose to vacation. And who can blame them? It has the reputation as "the world's finest and whitest beach;" its sand is 99% quartz.
CASEY KEY is a beautiful sight. Not built up like the other beaches, yet, that is, because it has no commercial activity. Toledoan Tom Schlachter bought a home on the beach and what a view! One can lie in bed and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico and the waves crash on the beach. Real estate prices range from $1.4 million to more than $20 million. On the road behind Mr. Schlachter's winter home is his boat dock on the bay, which makes an intercoastal trip by boat. And celebrities with places on the Key include Stephen King, Martina Navratilova, and newsman Jack Perkins, who does the Casey Key newsletter. He had a sundowner party recently with his significant other, Mary Jo Paneff, for his son Scott's birthday, only Scott couldn't be there, so everyone had a great time without him.
ESTERO is the new permanent home of Jan and Lee Lanfare of Toledo who bought a place in The Cascades. She flew the coop in the fall and her hubby will be migrating there soon. Until then he travels back and forth from Toledo.
SANIBEL and Captiva Islands are still great in spite of the hurricanes that took out many a palm tree and altered the waterfronts. Sanibel is where Kathy and Chuck Reynolds winter. Captiva Island is the place that Wayne and Linda Mileswki call their vacation spot.
PORT ROYAL is where the big bucks are, yet Pat and Robin Stranahan summer in Perrysburg.
PUNTA GORDA still needs some work after a hurricane, but former Toledoans Stan and Connie Kubik say things are looking up. But still they decided to buy a summer place back home.
BONITA SPRINGS. It is an up-and-coming community. Diane Zitzelberger has been wintering there for several years.
CAPE Coral Yacht Club was the site of the annual Fremont-Sandusky County Florida Reunion. Leo and Marian Bundschuh of Fremont, whose winter respite is in Ft. Myers, were chairmen.
FORT MYERS Beach is the place to be as far as Marilyn and John Bureau are concerned. They own a penthouse on the beach overlooking Lover's Key on Bonita Beach. It seemed like half of Perrysburg was in Florida on St. Patrick's Day, so the Bureaus hosted their annual Jiggs dinner. Among the Toledoans there were Barbara and Pete Weston; their son Matthew just closed the door of his restaurant and is opening a new chapter. Also seen were Anna Mae and Ron Suttler. Nearby, at a St. Patrick's Day party hosted by Marcia and Al Sprenger and Pat and Tom Sprenger, were former Toledoans Charlie and Diane Gallagher of Denver.
Also finding Fort Myers Beach a winter haven are Gloria and Tony Shaw, Diane and Norm Johnston, and George and June Njaim. Jaan and Millie Mannik find that Lexington Country Club in Fort Myers is one big playground with swimming, golf, and tennis.
Former Toledoan Michelle Thomas is enjoying the Fort Myers' life at Golf Harbor Yacht and Country Club. She works at a Saturn dealership. Of course, working in Florida is different that playing there: "I'm the only one without a tan," she said.
If you want a familiar place owned by a Toledoan, stop by Carson's Steakhouse in Fort Myers. Or, how about the Blue ointe grill in the Bell Towers shopping mall. Or go to the Real Seafood in Naples, which has a four-sided outdoor bar overlooking a pond. Indoors are saltwater fish aquariums, and guests dine at shell-shaped booths. The menu has a few twists: featured fish is caught locally, the key lime pie is a must, and the cole slaw with blue cheese has a little kick to it. Celeb sightings include Judge Judy and Tom Monaghan.
ST. PETERSBURG is the home of former Toledoans Doc and Patty Schaub.
BOCA RATON is where Dan and Jane DiSalle and their five children: Christina, Daniel, Catherine, Jake, and Teddy were during spring break. They stayed at Mr. DiSalle's family home. While there, they met with Betsy and Phil Barone, who also have five children: Philip, ZaZa, Jack, Mary Sophia, and Angelina. Most of the time the families were on the private and breathtaking beach at Rose Barone's gorgeous condo. Cannon balls in the pool, watching for gators, playing in the sand, and surfing.
POMPANO Beach is where Carol Maher winters. Her daughter and son-in-law Denise and Terry Benton visited. A favorite way to start the day off is a morning of shopping at Mizner Park in Boca Raton.
Arizona is Diane and Paul Churdar's winter get-a-way
THE ROYAL Islander in Cancun was the hot spot for a week for friends Candy and Jim Millon, Barb and Dan Cutillo, Dan and Diane Kazmierczak, and June and Erwin Effler. Poolside margaritas, spa treatments, and the beautiful beaches. Island hopping was a favorite pastime, including a day exploring potential new resort spots on Isla Mujeres. The couples are considering Villa Las Brisas and Hotel Secreto next year.
KIHEI, Maui, was the winter getaway for Tim and Jenni Yoder and family, including son Tyler and his assistance dog, Duke. Their condo is right next to Mrs. Yoder's parents, Jan and Chuck Witte. The Yoders' daughter Lynze and daughter-in-law Nissa visited for a week or so.
SPAIN on the beach is where Lou, Megan, and daughter Rachel Demeter and her family spent spring break. And the weather was great for sunbathing and sightseeing, although the king's visit interrupted their trip to Tangier, Morocco. They did see Madrid, Barcelona, and Marbella on the Costa del Sol.