Luxury Florida Resort
Hammock Beach on the Palm Coast, Innisbrook in Tampa, and Reunion in Orlando—the mere mention of these three Florida properties prompts pleasant thoughts about legendary golf, luxury accommodations, fine dining, and impeccable service. The unifying factor is that each one is a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort and a major player in a world-class hotel family. The Henderson in Destin now makes this coterie a formidable foursome.
Opening in November of 2016, The Henderson resides in the “Heart of the Emerald Coast” and is the first 5-Star property on the entire Gulf Coast. The hotel itself resembles a grand seaside manor and is nestled quite nicely next to 1.5 miles of the sugar-white beaches, the pristine dunes, and the emerald-green ocean. It also borders the 200-acre, environmentally protected Henderson Beach Nature Preserve, to which all guests have access. With 170 impeccably appointed and spacious rooms and eight suites, all with delightful views from the balconies, guests enjoy premium amenities and are pampered with luxurious bedding and many designer touches.
Destin began as a small fishing village but has become one of the Gulf Coast’s most popular destinations. It still offers unsurpassed fishing and is called the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” On terra firma, Destin has also been fortunate because there are more than 20 championship golf courses around the town. Throw in the uncrowded beaches and ocean activities, exceptional open-air and boutique shopping, fresh local seafood, diverse lodging options, and temperate year-round climate, and it’s easy to understand why Destin has been a favorite vacation spot for decades.
And no lodging option is better than The Henderson to exploit all the natural resources of Destin, including its golf courses. The location assures a sense of privacy and exclusivity, and the amenities assure a sense of comfort and contentment. The elevated, winding drive to the main entrance ends under the porte-cochere, but it is not a lobby that welcomes you inside but the large, beautifully decorated Living Room. It faces both the beach and the preserve, and it is specifically designed to connect the guests to the environment. The Living Room, which contains morning coffee and afternoon tea stations, is also the first chance to take in the sweeping panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, commissioned artwork created by local and regional artists is found throughout the hotel, and photographs on hall walls trace the history of Destin from that small fishing village to the present.
Three of Destin’s better golf courses are nearby—Kelly Plantation, Indian Bayou, Bluewater Bay Golf Resort—and a fourth, the impressive Regatta Bay Golf and Yacht Club, is little more than a 5-iron away. The concierge will help arrange tee times for all Destin courses, but The Henderson has a special package set up with Regatta Bay. The package is good for one round per day per person, transportation to and from the course, The Henderson Snack pack of water, trail mix, and fruit, and valet parking for the duration of the stay.
The concierge is the center for activity guidance and will also arrange for guests to use the resort’s fleet of cars or shuttles to visit nearby attractions, such as shopping, restaurant, and equestrian sites. The Henderson features a state-of-the-art fitness room, and for the women, its spa has 11 treatment rooms, extensive water treatments, locker room, steam room, sauna, and whirlpool. Outside is a marvelous water park with a family-oriented pool with a “lazy river” and an adult zone with pool.
Other perks of The Henderson include chilled towels and bottled water after a walk or run or workout, private beach access and two beach bikes per room, umbrella and chair service on the private beach, masks and snorkels for undersea exploration, volleyball, shore fishing, sailing, and paddleboards, kayaks, and kick boards. Every late afternoon the hotel sponsors the “Sunset Salutation,” a cocktail hour designed to watch the sun slip into the Gulf waters.
Dining at The Henderson is always a celebration. The signature restaurant is Primrose, named after Destin’s first commercial fishing boat. It is in the vanguard of the Emerald Coast’s Gulf-to-Table seafood tradition. In addition to the fresh catches brought daily from fisherman, the Primrose offers a comprehensive menu with incomparable prime steaks and chops leading the selections.
Seating can be inside or on the terrace. Horizons Bar has an unimpaired view of the, well, the horizon and is the perfect setting for libations and appetizers. The Sea Level Poolside Bar & Grill offers a relaxing, casual respite from all the aquatic activity in the pool realms. Sprinkles is the ice cream, shakes, and candy shop and features a “Grab and Go” breakfast of specialty coffees, bagels, and pastries. Hunger on the beach is easily taken care of with a casual snack or a lunch at the Beach Club.
The mantra on the Emerald Coast is “Get a little sand in your soul.” This is excellent advice for the beach goers but not quite as suitable for the golfers. Regardless, The Henderson is just the place to begin that soul searching.
For more information on The Henderson, visit www.HendersonBeachResort.com or call 844-395-4953.
(All photography by Vicky MacKay)WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?