Destin, Florida is known for having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, fantastic fishing, recreation, shopping and unique dining. Locals like to boast that Destin is “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” Well, Destin just got lucky again with the opening of The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort.

One of the finest resorts built along Florida’s Gulf Coast in a generation, the sweeping resort overlooks Destin’s famed sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters. I enjoy writing travel stories to share with readers ways to discover or rediscover travel destinations, like The Henderson located in Destin, that are unique, inspirational and surprising. Located along one of America’s top beaches and adjacent to a 208-acre environmentally protected state park, The Henderson is reminiscent of a grand seaside manor of yesteryear. It captures the romance of traditional coastal architecture by complementing its stunning natural backdrop with striking shingles, steep gabled rooflines and a design reverence to Florida’s nautical history. The resort features 170 spacious guestrooms and suites, a nature-inspired spa, Gulf-to-table cuisine, an octagonal bar with panoramic Gulf views, a rooftop terrace, two outdoor swimming pools, 30,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, and private beach access.

The Henderson is the anchor resort hotel of still-developing Henderson Beach Resort: future phases of which include condominiums and villa-style resort accommodations. From the moment I arrived at The Henderson, I noticed the old-world charm that reflects the surrounding, unspoiled beauty of the area. There is no lobby but rather, an expansive living room with high ceilings and a wall of windows that faces a maritime forest and the beach. The interior feels like it has been part of the coast’s landscape for over 100 years and showcases wooden floors and reclaimed beams and trusses. The resort has several, intimate gathering areas and is decorated throughout with commissioned artwork created by local and regional artists. Such a thoughtful touch.

The guest rooms and suites include stylish furnishings, yet remain authentic to the local, cultural surroundings. Larger than typical luxury resort guestrooms, they include custom furnishings, luxurious bedding, elegant bathrooms featuring louvered shutters, and gracious balconies or terraces. The balcony off of my room overlooked the pool and the manicured lawn.

The Henderson celebrates Destin’s gulf-to-table seafood traditions at its Primrose restaurant, named for Destin’s first commercial fishing boat. In addition to fresh catches bought daily from fishermen, the menu offers fine selections of steaks and chops and shareable plates.

The open-kitchen design restaurant also features a sushi bar as well as extensive outdoor terrace seating. With a striking octagonal-shaped design, Horizons Bar presents signature cocktails and panoramic views of the Gulf and adjacent nature preserve. I was so impressed with the food and décor, I called my friends who happened to be vacationing in Destin, and invited them for a dinner at Primrose, so they could discover a new and incredible place to dine in Destin!

I was able to escape to The Henderson’s Salamander Spa for a one-hour massage. After my incredible massage, I lingered longer to enjoy the ladies steam room, sauna and whirlpool which overlooks the treetops of the secluded park. The Salamander Spa’s friendly staff was attentive and very accommodating while I relaxed in the gorgeous lounge nibbling on nuts and filtered, flavored water! Although I was with my family this time, The Henderson and its spa would make for a great girlfriend getaway.

The Henderson also offers a sun-lit fitness room and a variety of other water experiences, including a family pool with a lazy river and an adult zone and pool. While basking in the glorious sun, I treated myself (and my family) to chilled drinks and lunch from the poolside grill.

On the way back to our rooms, we couldn’t resist going into the old-fashioned ice cream shop, Sprinkles, for a scoop (or two) of some delicious ice cream!

The Henderson also features nearly 30,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor function space, including several beachfront locations and a Grand Lawn. Tucked away in a wing of the resort is a 5,221-square-foot Crystal Ballroom, as well as a junior ballroom. On the fifth floor, the Sunset Vista Terrace provides stunning views of the beach and the state park’s foliage.

The Henderson is less than ten minutes from Destin Harbor, where guests can enjoy numerous water activities, shop in a festive marketplace, and interact with the fleet of fishing vessel captains and crews that pioneered the area. I did not need it, but the resort offers a shuttle service within a 5-mile radius.

I have reviewed the architectural beauty of this new resort and its amenities, but it is important to note the quality of the resort’s staff. Every hotel has a bed, fitness center, restaurant, bar, pool but it’s the staff that really makes The Henderson a cut above! From the time my family arrived we were taken care of. The well-trained staff addressed us by our first names. As I wandered around the resort, staff members reached out to me asking if there was anything they could do for me. From the friendly greeting we received at reception and touches like the turndown service in your bedroom, to the valet, The Henderson’s staff was there to look after my family’s every need. A first-class hotel with 5-star service created the perfect vacation in the ideal destination of Destin, Florida! Destin is truly lucky to have The Henderson Beach & Spa Resort!

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The Henderson Beach & Spa Resort

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One of the two outdoor pools

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Beautiful hotel rooms

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The Salamander Spa lounge area

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The hotel living room