Escape For A Date: The Pearl
by Linda Holloway, Photography by www.larryhollowayphotography.com
Give your marriage an annual check-up by escaping for a date. The popular “date night” has helped couples re-connect, but it takes more than a few hours for a couple to unwind from the merry-go-round life of 24/7 parenting. Our children were 11 and 16 years old when Larry’s health scare sent us packing for our first escape. At the time, our travel budget was focused on the important family vacation, but we found saving for our much anticipated “anniversary escape trip” was part of the fun.
Usually, trusted relatives are excited about spending quality time with your children. If you have younger children, talk to them in advance about your short departure. As psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book, The Science of Happily Ever After, of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages.
Remember your family began with the two of you, and the best gift to each other is uninterrupted time. In turn, you are showing your children that your marriage is important. Shout it out to everyone: “We are still in love.” Valentine’s Day and your anniversary are the perfect times to “escape.” So… take out your wedding album, feel the vibe from that special day, download your favorite date songs, and head to the beach.
The Pearl – Rosemary Beach Florida
Known around the world for 26 miles of sugar-white beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton is a perfect destination for couples to escape for a weekend or longer. You will find 16 beach neighborhoods, each with their own personality and a wide range of activities. When my doctor released me to travel after a year of health issues, we knew South Walton had the newest over-the-top place to celebrate. The Pearl, a luxury boutique hotel located in beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida, was perfect. A place so special, we bookmarked it “all things romantic.”
The Pearl is just yards from the Gulf of Mexico where rooms with balconies boast water views, the pool or the town. The chic room décor spells intimacy while offering high-tech accommodations. The resort is the first in the United States to offer in-room Apple TV’s, allowing guests to stream wirelessly from the complimentary high-speed internet. Rooms have iPads for interactive guest services also. Touch the pad to order room service and enjoy dining on the balcony while Gulf peeking. Note: there is a full service spa for unwinding, and you will want to reserve a Cabana overlooking the pool for a special dining experience. At night, the pool showcases dancing streams of water.
Make reservations at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Havana Beach Club, for some of the best seafood in the region. Enjoy the ambiance of a banquette in the rear of the restaurant. Or, enjoy outdoor seating on the veranda where the sky showcases streaks of pastels colors left by the sun’s disappearance. The restaurant offers Americana cuisine with Creole, Cajun and Cuban influences that translates into delectable cuisine. We are still raving about the Chocolate Dessert Flight. We finished the night by walking along the sandy shore, shoes in hand, while a million stars illuminated our path.
The next day, explore Rosemary Beach, where you can stroll along mansions and carriage houses. Celebrities, sports figures and even the Nashville elite vacation here. The 107-acre Rosemary Beach was established on the principles of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development to provide a sense of community and convenience. Simply stated, there is a “no-driving” necessary attitude. We wandered through footpaths, boardwalks and secret pathways—ending at the water’s edge. Stop at the intimate “pocket parks” throughout Rosemary Beach, and make sure you visit the Butterfly Garden.
The Pearl’s pool (for ages 21 and older) is a great place to relax. The hotel is managed by St. Joe Clubs and Resorts, and guests have access to The Beach Club at nearby WaterSound. More perks include access to the popular WaterColor Inn Resorts adult pool, complimentary kayaks/canoes as well as discounted YOLO Board rentals at the BoatHouse at WaterColor. Be sure to ask for more sister property amenities. For dipping in the Gulf, The Pearl has free beach set-up. The beach chairs—complete with a black and white umbrella is your front row seat to relaxation.
Along Rosemary Beach’s cobblestone streets, we roamed in retail shops like Pish Posh Patchouli’s, a fine apothecary boutique. If “your guy” has trouble finding the perfect gift, Patchouli’s has the solution. Here, the sales person can create your personalized products at the custom scent bar. She swirled and mixed until…just like magic, my ideal potion (perfume) was born. Rosemary Beach has a European feel, with dining options such as La Crema Tapas & Chocolate, Edward’s—with nightly entertainment, and Amavida Coffee & Tea.
Explore South Walton for activities such a kayak ride on Western Lake or a bike ride to Rosemary Beach’s next door neighbor Alys Beach, where there is nature trail. Art lovers will enjoy the Mary Hong Studio in Grayton Beach. Mary was “South Walton 2014 Artist of the Year,” and fashions colorful art from over 4,000 pounds of blown glass. If you are planning an anniversary trip in June (the most popular month for weddings,) make plans to attend the Digital Graffiti Festival at Alys Beach—the first outdoor projections art festival. This innovative one-of-a-kind event (June 4-6, 2015) is so unique it was voted “Best Event” by readers of EC magazine and named one of the must-not miss “52 Amazing Weekends” by Florida Travel and Life magazine. Artists from around the world come here to compete for prize money.
For an evening of fine dining, make reservations for WaterColor Inn & Resort’s award winning restaurant, Fish Out of Water. Overlooking the turquoise water, the Gulf Front Deck boasts some of the best Gulf of Mexico views in South Walton. The sunsets alone will make you fall in love all over again. I believe a romantic get-away should include at least one picnic. Stop by Modica Market in Seaside for picnic delicacies and travel a short distance to Eden State Gardens in Point Washington.
Wesley Mansion is the centerpiece of Eden where the ambiance is live oaks draped in Spanish Moss. The gardens wind through the property adorning hidden paths edged with colorful flowers. Oh yes…for privacy, search for the elusive secret garden. East of Eden Spa and Retreat is nearby where you can request an outdoor couples massage.
On the last day of our romantic respite, it was difficult to leave The Pearl. We walked hand in hand to say goodbye to the Gulf. With the rhythmic currents pulling sand through our toes, our footing was never steady. It was, however, like our love…never-ending.
I dedicate this article to my family who so faithfully stood by me during my year-long battle with breast cancer: Ashley, Jimmy & Gunnar Sellers, Lance and Alicia Holloway and to the love of my life, who never left my side, Larry Holloway. God has truly blessed me…I am now in remission.