SunDestin’s visitors fall for the panhandle’s best season
Destin, Florida, has a well-deserved reputation for beautiful beaches with turquoise waters and sparkling white sand. SunDestin resort, located in the heart of the city, boasts incredible views of this part of the Gulf and easy access to ample on and off site amenities. The recently renovated resort has two restaurants, a tiki bar, and dozens of other attractions and restaurants surround it.
With Destin hosting an annual 4 million visitors, fall may be the best season for a weekend retreat. With most tourists returning home there is ample space on the beach, little traffic, no waiting in lines and best of all – the water is still warm enough for swimming.
SunDestin has 276 units and was built in the 1980s, although recent renovations to two restaurant spaces, the lobby and front desk areas give the resort a contemporary appearance. It’s age means that some guests have been visiting the resort every year for decades, something the resorts chef, Shane Rexroad, appreciates. “We have winter guests who have been coming for 30 years, and this will be the first year they can have elevated cuisine served fresh on site,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to learning about their favorite menu items.”
Chef Rexroad oversees the kitchen at Rosada, a coastal Mexican restaurant opened this year. The menu uses fresh, simple ingredients, like homemade tortillas and locally sourced seafood and vegetables, to create authentic Mexican dishes including tacos, burritos, and rice bowls. “We also have a few beach items because the restaurant is on the beach, and there is an adjacent tiki bar,” Rexroad says. “We just had our soft opening, so a lot of menu items are still being finalized. Right now we are getting feedback from guests.”
The resort's Birdie’s Coffee and Stuff in the lobby functions as a general store for guests and also offers high end coffee drinks and pre-made breakfast items and sandwiches. “Taylor Rohrberger owns Rosada and Birdie’s, and he also owns Two Birds Coffee in Seascape, so he was the one who picked out the gourmet espresso machine that we have in Birdie’s and who selected the decor in Rosada,” Rexroad says.
The restaurant’s walls are millennial pink and adorned with pop art, giving the space a bright and beach-appropriate vibe that’s balanced with high end elements like a marble bar. Rosada offers variety of margaritas as well as other craft cocktails and draft beer. “We also cater when the hotel has events like weddings and conferences,” Rexroad says. “It’s a great opportunity for me because I am getting to cook high end food and I can also walk out of the restaurant and be standing on the beach.”
SunDestin has several spaces for events, including a ballroom with a patio area that can accommodate 100 guests and a smaller reception room with accommodations for 30. “For weddings, people exchange vows on the beach and then come inside to continue celebrating,” says Rachel Velasquez, Northwest Florida marketing manager with Wyndham properties. “With more than 3,000 square-feet of space, we can host all types of events, like family reunions or business meetings, with accommodations on site for everyone and plenty of nearby activities available.”
Other resort amenities include large indoor and outdoor pools, heated seasonally, a hot tub, sauna, and full beach service staff. There are one, two, and three bedroom units which all include a full kitchen and private balcony. The decor varies as units have different owners and rentals are arranged through Wyndham. All units feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Gulf Coast.
The white sands and water visibility in this part of the panhandle mean snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving are all popular activities. Nearby companies also offer paddle boarding, charter fishing, and parasailing. Kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent on site from La Dolce Vita, the same company that rents beach chairs. For the less adventurous,nearby state parks offer opportunities for birding and exploring dunes and coastal lakes, and some guests prefer to take in ocean views privately from their balcony.
“Through our Key to the Beach program, our guests also receive discounts to a variety of attractions and restaurants, including Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park and Tailfin’s Seafood Ale House and Oyster Bar. The location of SunDestin makes everything convenient,” Velasquez says. Guests will receive a Key to the Beach card with their check-in packet, giving them exclusive discounts around Northwest Florida.
Other popular nearby attractions with discounts include the Destin History and Fishing Museum, Rock Out climbing gym, Fat Daddy’s Arcade, Rent Gear Here bike rentals, and more than a dozen area restaurants (including Rosada). Many guests also enjoy nearby opportunities for shopping, including Silver Sands Outlets, The Grand Boulevard, and The Market Shops.
Most of all, visitors to SunDestin enjoy the beach. With private access to keep out the crowds, families build sandcastles while fisherman relax near poles pushed into the sand and small groups idle near the surf. The views of this coast, along with amenities and a friendly staff, have kept the same visitors coming back for decades, and will continue to for years in the future.