Heralded as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin, Florida these days is also celebrated as a vacation hotspot boasting resort hotels, timeshares, home rentals and condos around every beach adjacent avenue. The crowning jewel of these sought-after locales, The Henderson beach resort, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, pays homage to bygone days while offering the modern amenities relaxation seekers desire.
The Secret’s Out
Located within the Emerald Coast, a picturesque stretch of white-sand beaches in Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, The Henderson features 170 guestrooms with views of either the Gulf of Mexico or the neighboring 200-acre nature preserve. With such attractive vistas, I had no qualms ordering room service each morning during my stay to enjoy on my balcony—and thanks to the local Eglin Air Force Base, building codes restrict nearby developments from constructing properties above a certain square footage ensuring optimal viewing for guests.
Written on the walls of the resort is the history and culture of Destin. Local artists and artisans contributed to the myriad custom pieces displayed throughout the resort’s shared spaces. I especially enjoyed Russ Gilbert’s blown glass creations, including the amber-colored sea oats behind the reception desk. Black and white images located throughout the corridors remind guests of simpler times, such as the 1950s photo of Destin fishermen pulling in their haul from the sandy shores.
In fact, much of The Henderson is intended to make guests feel at home. The living room in front of reception, for example, is furnished as its name would suggest with comfy couches and plenty of areas for gathering. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in an abundance of natural light for those who prefer air conditioning over the living room’s outdoor patio area. Just off the living room’s patio and down a flight of stairs is a fire pit perfect for roasting s’mores from the onsite Sprinkles ice cream and candy store, where guests can also find root beer floats, sundaes, milkshakes, and during breakfast time, specialty coffees, bagels and pastries.
Catch of the Day
Sweets aside, The Henderson’s signature restaurant, Primrose, offers a rotating dock-to-table menu with fresh caught seafood and stunning views of the Emerald Coast. Here, I enjoyed a “Sushi Social” with brightly colored, and artfully displayed, sashimi and sushi rolls. The Henderson Roll, in particular, packs a flavorful punch with eel, avocado, spicy tuna, jalapenos and spicy mayonnaise. In the evenings, suggest an after-hours handcrafted cocktail around the octagon-shaped bar at Horizons. Locals and guests alike pack the bar in the evenings, creating a lively yet relaxed ambiance for mingling. For me, I prefer my champagne with a side of spa, which is exactly what I got at Salamander Spa.
Much To Do Indoors and Out
Guests can indulge in a bit of spa-radise at the Salamander Spa with a Neroli Blossom Sensory Experience complete with eucalyptus-infused foot cleansing ritual and reflexology followed by a meditative massage. The relaxing treatment was just what I needed after my paddleboard excursion on the Gulf with YOLO Board.
This guided experience begins with a quick tutorial, and then it’s off to the water for some fun in the sun. Even if your clients don’t graduate to standing on the board, the adventure is well worth it, especially if they are able to see dolphins during their outing like I did.
For a less strenuous, yet equally as entertaining outdoor activity, suggest renting one of The Henderson’s complimentary cruiser bikes to explore the town. After my ride, I traded two wheels for four thanks to a complimentary BMW Resort Driving Tour going on during my stay, wherein I took full advantage of a 3-hour BMW test drive. My weapon of choice was a slick red convertible I took for a ride on the open road to check out the nearby Destin Commons shopping center. I was quick to return, after all a “Destin-ation” of discovery was waiting for me back at the resort.
The Henderson: hendersonbeachresort.com