Date of Trip: January 2005
What was originally going to be a romantic getaway for two back on Thanksgiving ended up being postponed due to a family emergency that week. We thought we would have to cancel and forgo the entire weekend, but found the staff at the Resort very accommodating, and allowed us a 30 day extension, not once but twice.
We ended up bringing the kids with us because of the timing of the weekend, and while it was not the romantic getaway we had hoped for, we were glad we did. (The kids were really glad we did anyway.) I’ve posted pictures of our trip on the web and you can view a slide show of the great sights and our experiance here. (Just remember to hit play!)
We left for our road trip Friday afternoon from Atlanta for our 5 ½ hour road trip. Our reservations were a bayside suite at the 8 story Bayside Inn, adjacent to the Conference Center, Spa, and the Linkside Golf course. We found the suite very large with a small balcony overlooking the Chotawatchee Bay, small kitchen and separate bedroom for the adults. A tour of the hotel gave very spacious rooms with either two double beds or one king size bed.
One nice feature of these rooms was the stove top, small refrigerator, coffee maker and toaster complete with plates and silverware. Something you don’t find in most hotel rooms.
The hotel is being upgraded and updated. One half of the hotel is blocked off for this upgrade and should be complete by the summer season. While to hotel did not look worn, the rooms were certainly dated from the wallpaper and cabinetry.
Much like cruise ships, our room key was our charge card for the weekend. Any extras could be charged to the room for any amenities, which were plenty, on the resort. The resort offers many extras including several golf courses, bicycle rentals, Salon and Day Spa, canoes and kayaking, parasailing, scuba diving and plenty of shopping.
With such a large property, the resort offers a tram service which we found very enjoyable. A call to guest relations from your room phone would call a small bus to the front door to wisk you off to one of 25 stops around the resort. When you’re done and want to go back, or to another location, courtesy phones are located at each location to call for a pickup.
We made several stops via the tram service. Our first stop was Jolee Island. A small island located in the Chotawatchee Bay. A bridge connects you to the island and has a 1/3 mile nature trail that circles the island. Picnic tables are located at several locations along with park benches to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. A play Pirate ship complete with swings and slides is also located for the children to play. While we were there in off season, we had the entire island to ourselves.
Our next stop via the tram was The Village of Baytown Wharf. A classic southern style “town square” filled with restaurants and shops for the most discriminating taste. In order to give Mom or Dad some time to shop, there is a HUGE 9000 square foot Adventure Landing for the kids to play. Donated and built entirely by volunteers, Adventure Landing provides hours of play for the kids, which can translate to hours of shopping for Mom. Dad can sit back and relax while the kids enjoy their exploration. (Adult supervision is required while your kids are enjoying Adventure Landing.)
It was hard to decide where to have dinner with so many choices later that night, and wish we could have had more time to experience other restaurants in the Village. We would have liked to experience Poppy’s Seafood Factory, Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille or even Acme Oyster House which gave a distinct feeling of the French Quarter in New Orleans. We did experience Rum Runners that night which gave a distinct Island feel and wonderful selection of both land and seafood.
Some of the shops along the Wharf included Exquisite Interiors, Destin Jewelers, Jazzee Bath & Body, and Toys & Treasures. All very unique shops with wonderful selections to provide memorable gifts or souvenirs of you experience at Sandestin. We found the Village one of our favorite places during the weekend and would like to go back to experience some of the “night life” without the kids at some point.
Later that afternoon we finally hit Sandestin Beach. One of our favorite places on earth to go as a familyisthe beach and Sandestin Beach did not disappoint. One of the most striking points about the beach was how white and soft the sand was, and oddly enough, there was not a seashell in sight.
Having so much soft white sand however, can cause a bit of a problem for our two year old son, who ended up getting sand all over him, thus he decided to take it upon himself to make it a “nude beach” which I don’t think the Resort would approve of, but was one of the classic moments of the weekend.
Being there during off season, gave us plenty of room to spread out and let the kids run around. I can only imagine how busy this beach can be during season and would also agree with The Travel Channel as one of the Top 10 Florida Beaches. Rental of beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas are available. Guests may also enjoy one hour free rental of boogie boards and kayaks by presenting a Resort Card. And for your convenience, sunscreen and beach-related products are sold in the beach huts. The beach service does not accept cash, so bring your Resort Card with you to charge items to your room or your credit card.
Our next stay at Sandestin would most certainly be in Beachside Hotel One or Two with a view of the emerald waters of the Gulf Coast. The two hotels reside right on the beach and with the tram service, gives us easy access all 2400 acres of the resort. Plenty of other hotel options are available all around the resort and Condos are also available for an entire family.
An option I wish I would have been able to enjoy was the golf. I didn’t play a single hole of the 72 holes they have available at the resort. Four courses weave throughout the resort, and each has a character of its own. My wife would have also liked to have spent some pampering in the full service spa. Something she has not done since our last cruise. Both these options would have been enjoyed if we had been there on our own without the kids.
In closing, we found Sandestin a wonderful family resort with something to offer the entire family. We also see incredible potential as a romantic getaway for couples who want to rejuvenate a relationship. Most importantly it rejuvenates the individual soul of anyone who stays at this Oceanside Paradise.
The entire family highly recommends Sandestin Resort and hopefully we’ll be back soon. With so much to do, my wife is looking forward to going back with the kids and bringing some other mom’s with kids with her this summer for a full week at the beach. We are also looking forward to going back without the children for another quick getaway weekend.
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