By Linda Holloway – Photography by www.larryhollowayphotograpy.com
Most agree the summer beach vacation is the most important memory-maker for families. Now you can make sure that every minute counts in one of the finest resorts to open along Florida’s Gulf Coast in a generation. Reminiscent of a luxurious grand seaside manner of yesteryear, The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, blends modern conveniences with the nostalgia of days gone by – all set against a backdrop of the authentic beach town of Destin, Florida. The best part— The Henderson is family friendly. I kept looking for a sign announcing, “Children are welcome here,” but it is not necessary. From the moment you arrive, the entire staff is eager to assist the younger set, as well as adults, in all things fun.
The Henderson captures the essence of traditional coastal architecture with striking shingles, steep gabled rooflines and a design nod to Destin’s nautical history. Guests can choose from 170 spacious, luxury guest rooms—including eight guest suites, and most importantly for families, 12 sets of connecting rooms. Choose from gulf, pool and garden views. The Henderson Beach Resort consists of The Henderson, its sister property, the romantic Henderson Park Inn, and the Henderson Lofts—residential condominiums - set to open in fall of 2017. Salamander manages the resort—expect to be pampered in an environment created with comfort in mind.
If your family includes “Man’s best friend,” you will be happy to know The Henderson is dog friendly. The resort offers select garden view rooms on each floor for your canine friends under 25 pounds. Each of these rooms offers a souvenir dog toy and waste bags to use during your stay. Dog beds, and water and food bowls will be provided also. Ask about the fee/details of this thoughtful amenity. Alternative boarding is offered at Goochie Poochie Doggie Spa & Resort--an off-site company that offers boarding for larger dogs and other pet services.
When we entered The Henderson, instead of a lobby, there was an expansive living room with hardwood floors and intimate groupings of decorative furnishings. The soaring ceilings are adorned with reclaimed beams and trusses. Beyond the glass wall of windows, the flow of stylish furnishings extends to the outdoor terrace where the scenery includes a maritime forest and beach. Children especially enjoy this area where toy cars and dolls are introduced to beach life.
Our guest room included stylish furnishings, bedding we wanted to take home with us, soaking bathtub with louvered shutters, and a tiled shower. The Gulf of Mexico view—complete with balcony is great for surf watching, and the adjacent Henderson nature preserve is the perfect neighbor…quiet. Ask about bikes at The Henderson—the ideal transportation for your family to experience a glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem at Henderson State Park and beyond.
The heated adult pool with cabanas, is lushly landscaped and quiet, but the action can be found at the family pool with a kid zone splash pad and a meandering lazy river. The private beach area is also separated. Renowned for white satin sand and emerald-jeweled waters, the resort boasts nearly two miles of Destin’s beach perfection. Water sports, fitness classes and nature tours are also offered. The concierge can help you plan the perfect family activities for all ages.
Poppy’s Club and Parents Time Out
While family beach activities are the star attractions, there is more! The popular children’s program, Poppy’s Club, is open from 9 a.m. – 1 pm and 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Designed for ages 4-11, make reservations (fee based) for activities including “Sports Madness” where kids can team up and compete in fun lawn games. “Pirates Destiny,” is a day of creativity, maps and the searching for buried treasure. “Kids Night Out” is where the Pizza Party is the bomb—kids feast on pizza followed by a night of games and “The Sky’s the Limit” is where kids can learn about common constellations, play planet trivia and paint their own canvas galaxy. Your kids will enjoy making new friends, so go ahead—put yourselves in time out.
Enjoy a guilt-free excursion such as golfing at Regatta Bay Golf and Yacht Club, or enjoy a good book at the adult pool or beach. Reserve a spot on a charter boat for a deep-sea fishing excursion, or explore shopping at Destin Commons or Silver Sands Outlet Center. The Salamander Spa is the place to relax and rejuvenate. Take time before your treatment to experience the posh ladies’ lounge. My massage therapist was the best I have experienced. I also indulged in the the Caviar facial treatment, enhanced by Kerstian Florian products, that revived the glow to my skin and renewed my spirits.
The Henderson celebrates Destin’s Gulf-to-Table seafood traditions, while serving a variety of dishes for the entire family. Primrose, with a display kitchen and a dedicated experience with freshly prepared sushi, is the signature restaurant. We revisited the Primrose the next morning where the pancakes were amazing. Kids rave about the fare at the poolside grill—Sea Level, and the popular old-fashioned ice cream shop, Sprinkles.
After the days of sandcastles and beach adventures, celebrate the magic that brings your family vacation to life at night—watching the sun sink into the horizon, crab hunting, chasing waves and star gazing. Here the surf becomes your children’s lullaby. Peace, contentment, and another family memory-maker is complete at —The Henderson, A Salamander Beach and Spa Resort.
The Henderson: www.hendersonbeachresort.com
Destin, Florida: Known as the “the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is one of the Emerald Coast’s most sought-after destinations. Ready for a real family adventure? Board the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise or the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise for thrills. Be sure you stop by Harbor Docks Restaurant and watch the fleets arrive in the evenings with their fresh bounty from the Gulf. Serving great seafood since 1979, this famous restaurant is where the locals eat. The children’s menu offers fish, shrimp and chicken fingers. Breakfast is delicious, and outside dining is a must.
Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park is a Destin favorite with 49 different play areas. Located on nearby Okaloosa Island, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park guarantees hours of fun for all ages. Gulfarium is not only entertaining, but educational as well. The Dolphin show is where talent and agility rein as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins leap, splash and play! The Sea Lion Show is where kids can discover their clever and cunning ways with the California sea lions. Check times for animal encounters such as Kids Reptile Safari, Discover Stingrays, Animal Adventure and Discover Gators.
Destin Tourist Information: www.EmeraldCoastFl.com