I’m definitely a Finger Lakes Foodie, and what could make a dinner more interesting than sharing it with a few ghosts? Typically a local dinner includes good food, good conversation and a relaxing evening out. So imagine my boyfriend’s reaction when I told him I’d made a reservation at the landmark Naples Hotel in Naples for a Ghost Dinner.
Before I go any further, just as a disclaimer, I’m not a novice with this whole ghost thing. It is believed that we share our Finger Lakes Visitors Connection office with the original owner of the house, Willet Spangle (who died in 1936!). In fact, it’s speculated that my particular office is a favorite hangout for him. Lucky me!
When we arrived at the Naples Hotel that evening, we were greeted by Chef, and resident ghost expert, Domonick Gallo. After we were introduced to the other guests, we settled in for a delicious dinner. The two women sitting to my right had come prepared for a paranormal experience. They had their own flashlights, which I didn’t understand until later in the evening. (And you, too, will have to wait to find out their significance.)
Usually the scrumptious food is my main focus, but the idea that we might be surrounded by unseen “guests” was never far from my mind. I’ll admit I did spend a lot of time looking out of the corner of my eye to see if I would see or feel anything – or anyone. However, being the foodie that I am, this did not take away from the enjoyment of my meal. The food was delicious – expertly prepared.
After our fabulous dessert, Chef Domonick came back out to share some of the hotel’s history. Built in 1895, it was originally a 30-room, brick hotel, dubbed “the finest brick hotel in Ontario County”. Of course his historical facts included the unfortunate death of a man on the third floor sometime in the 1920’s. However, he assured us that the room in which we were having dinner was actually the room the spirits frequented the most. How’s that for putting us at ease?
Domonick’s flashlights were set up in two areas of the room that were not near anyone. He explained that he would begin chatting with the spirits, and if they were there, he hoped they would communicate through the flashlights.
As Domonick started his dialogue with the spirits, he explained that one prominent spirit was a woman named Alice. He asked Alice to respond to him through the flashlights. Let me tell you, when those flashlights went on and off simultaneously, completely on their own (including the two flashlights the ladies next to me brought) the hair on the back of my neck was not only standing on end, it was doing jumping jacks!
Domonick asked several questions, and if the answer was yes, the flashlights flashed on then off, sometimes fast, sometimes slower. For example, when he asked Alice if the children were present, there was no response from the flashlights, which told us she was alone tonight. Dominick said on evenings when the children were around, that they were quite rambunctious, and at times, the flashlights would actually roll across the tables.
As we were getting up to tour the hotel, Domonick told us about the vase from the credenza that moved from one side of the room to the other on its own and the doilies that flew across the room. Sure! Amp up the fear factor, Domonick!
Our tour through the hotel took us into areas where there had been strange happenings or ghost sightings. For example, guests have claimed that they have woken during the night to find a “man in uniform” sitting near the bed. I don’t know whether to consider ourselves fortunate or unfortunate, but we did not experience unusual phenomena that night, other than our earlier conversations with Alice.
It was definitely an enlightening evening. I recommend going to the Naples Hotel for dinner, even if it’s not for a special Ghost Dinner. I know I’ll be going back. The food is great and the company… well, I’ll let you decide that for yourself after you’ve visited. Perhaps you’ll make some new Finger Lakes friends like we did.
By the way, if you’re interested in the official TAPS ghost hunters’ investigation that took place at the Naples Hotel in 2011, there’s a homemade YouTube video of the airing of the show that documents the happenings that night - enjoy!