One of Destin’s newest beach resorts is a come-back destination
Staying at a fairly new resort has its advantages. Who doesn’t love pristine interiors, crisp linens and a freshly minted staff who’s ready to please? Of course, there’s always the chance of growing pains, but a little more than a year after its opening, I’m happy to report that The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, delivered a delightful, trouble-free getaway.
This luxury Destin, Florida, property sits five minutes from the town’s famous sugar-white sand beach. The resort is also adjacent to Henderson Beach State Park, an environmentally protected area that provides serene surroundings in a beach town sometimes mentioned as a crowded escape for Atlantans and other city-dwellers. The resort’s shingled exterior recalls a grand seaside manor, and the upscale, residential feel interior features high ceilings and 465 original artworks by local artists.
As soon as my family and I stepped through the double doors, we felt at ease. We received a detailed explanation of the amenities and layout at check-in, but before exploring, we settled into our spacious guestroom, with its custom furnishings, balcony and luxe bathroom complete with louvered shutters. Once unpacked, we headed to the lobby, or “living room,” where large windows and an inviting outdoor terrace overlook the neighboring maritime forest and Gulf Coast. The octagonal-shaped Horizons bar bustled with imbibers sipping cocktails with a side of panoramic views. For a quieter happy hour spot, we discovered the rooftop terrace, which boasts equally great views of the coast and unspoiled Henderson Beach State Park.
Wherever you choose to hang out, the resort has mastered the art of entertaining both families with energetic offspring and solo adults looking for some R&R. Pint-sized guests can spend the day at Poppy’s, a kid’s club where crafts, swimming and other adventures entertain. There’s also a family pool with all the bells and whistles, including a splash pad and meandering lazy river. The grown-ups can indulge in some quiet time at the heated adults’ pool, where lush landscaping creates an exclusive ambience. Or there’s the adjacent private beach offering umbrella and chair rental service for $35 a day. For the ultimate moment of calm, I enjoyed a 60-minute massage at the Salamander Spa, where the therapies range from balancing facials to mineral aromatherapy massages. The spa also offers a steam room, sauna and whirlpool, where the view of the surrounding treetops adds an extra level of Zen.
When hunger strikes, the Henderson has several options. Relax by the pool with salads, sandwiches and frozen drinks from the Sea Level Poolside Bar & Grill. We also made more than one visit to Sprinkles, the resort’s old fashioned ice cream shop, for both sweet treats and grab-and-go breakfasts, including a tasty homemade granola. Horizons bar serves seafood appetizers, charcuterie and other bites, but a more formal dinner can be had at Primrose. Named for Destin’s first commercial fishing boat, the restaurant was a bit deserted during our early-bird dinner, but our server lavished us with attention, walking us through her favorite dishes and the fresh-catch specials. I was tempted by the artful sushi, but opted instead for the blackened snapper with corn puree, field pea succotash and gnocchi. My husband selected a grilled grouper, and my daughter happily snacked on a side of indulgent macaroni and cheese.
Everyone enjoys a vacation, but sometimes family trips can be stressful to plan and execute. Despite its young age, The Henderson managed to make all our expectations for a laid back beach getaway come true. We spent three stress-free days at the pool and beach—a memorable recharge for all members of the family.
THE HENDERSON, A SALAMANDER BEACH & SPA RESORT
Rates range from $225-$450 for standard guestrooms and $595-$1,250 for suites
STORY: Giannina Smith Bedford
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.