Exploring Northwest Florida
Exploring Northwest Florida
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in the 1980s was a lot different than it is today, mainly because it was a lot smaller. Not in land mass, the resort has always been over 2400 acres in size, but in what there was to do. Back in those days, it was all beach and golf, AND the only grass tennis court in Northwest Florida. Today the resort is – well, beach and golf, (the grass court got covered over with an events building), but there’s also a whole lot more to do at this beachside playground.
How do I know this? Well, my husband worked at there in the 1980s and my children took tennis and golf lessons from the resort’s excellent professionals, so you could say I got to hang out there a lot.
That was in the “Harry T” days, when the very creative marketing team concocted the Legend of Harry T and opened Harry T’s Boathouse waterfront restaurant in Destin, filled with his so-called memorabilia. Sorry to burst the bubble, but there never was a Harrison T. Babe, no circus, and no shipwreck in the gulf, but you can still see some of the plaques and notices that were placed around the resort to commemorate his daring deeds. You can also visit Harry T’s successor, Harry T’s Lighthouse, at HarborWalk Village overlooking the Destin harbor and it’s still great fun.
So, what does the resort have to offer? A rundown of amenities includes more than seven miles of waterfront property featuring both beach and bay, four championship golf courses, 15 tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 113-slip marina, bicycle and kayak rentals, a fitness center and spa, on-site shopping and restaurants, a nature park, bike and walking paths, (whew) and then there’s a beachside 18-hole putting course, a zip line, a tram to get you around the property, and a children’s playground.
Did I miss anything? Probably, but this is just what’s on the property. Directly adjacent at Grand Boulevard (the tram will take you there) is more shopping, some great restaurants (like P.F. Chang’s, Tommy Bahama’s, and Mitchell’s Fish Market) and South Walton’s only movie theater, the Carmike 10 Cinema, the first Big D theater in Florida.
Of course, a resort of this size isn’t short of hotels, condos, and villas, and you can choose, beach side or bay side, depending on your preference. In all, there are more than 1,200 rental accommodations in 30 different settings, including single-family homes, one- to four-bedroom villas, high-rise condominium towers, and the 168-room Grand Sandestin and the 130-room LeCiel hotel, boutique hotel, both of which overlook the Choctawhatchee Bay.
In addition, adjacent to the resort at Grand Boulevard are two more hotels, the Courtyard by Marriott and the Residence Inn, which is pet friendly. Both of these hotels have a partnership with the resort and guests can utilize some of the amenities, such as golf, tennis, and the private beach.
The center of the resort’s on-site activities is the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Overlooking the marina, Baytowne offers great dining, nightlife, shopping, and kid-fun as well. There’s a lagoon where kids of all ages can sail miniature boats and feed the ducks while overhead adventurers brave the thrills of the zip-line and climbing wall. You can also stroll out on the boardwalk over the bay and watch the yachts sail and the sun set.
Baytowne is also where annual events take place such as the Sandestin Wine Festival, the Baytowne Beer Festival, and various art shows. An ice skating rink is usually set up over the winter, and during summer months you can view fireworks out over the bay.
Since opening in 1973, the resort has changed ownership several times, but the basic idea of an all-inclusive beach resort hasn’t changed. It has remained one of the Destin vacation rentals main stays.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is located between Destin and Panama City Beach at 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West, Destin, Florida 32550. For more information, call (800) 277-0800 or (850) 267-8000.