Photo Journal Reviews

A Week at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

After a year of not being able to GO anywhere or DO much outside of the house, we were all itching to go and do and not be at home. I needed some vacating time, and we all needed to get out of dodge. Many ideas were tossed around but the Husband and I kept coming back to two main requirements:

  1. Wherever we went needed to be drivable in less than a day. It had been a while since we’d forced Skyler to roadtrip and wanted to make things easy on ourselves in case he hated it.
  2. We needed to be on a beach with easy pool access.

I started pouring over maps, scouring AirBNB and VRBO to scout our best options. What would give us the best bang for our buck? Enough living space so I could work a couple days from our rental, close and easy beach/pool access, nearby food options. And then my dad invited himself along for the trip and simplified the whole thing: let’s get a condo at a resort to make our lives simple for the week.

After some research, we all landed on Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, FL as our resort of choice. Originally, there was talk of my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom joining us so we chose two two-bedroom condos in the same beachside tower, which would give us all our own space and make childcare duties shareable. We splurged on a golf cart rental, as well, to make getting around the resort property easier; no need to worry about loading in and out of a car and getting Skyler in the carseat. We could all just hop on the golf cart and jet off.

In the end, my brother couldn’t take the time off work and my mom decided she’d rather have a week of peace and quiet at home, so my dad, husband, kid and I loaded up a rental van and headed to Florida!

We stayed for 8 nights in one of the Beachfront towers, never left the property, and had a total blast! The views were gorgeous, the condos were lovely, the food on property was better than expected, the pools were perfect, and having the golf cart made everything so convenient. We were all able to relax and vacate. Even my father, who loves to work and has trouble doing nothing, enjoyed himself immensely, reading a lot, taking naps, and spending a lot of time with his grandson. Skyler hated the beach, but his opinion doesn’t matter that much 😉 We would 100% return and do this vacation again.

Our Condos

The Husband, the Mooch, and I shared one condo – and boy was it nice giving the kiddo his own room like he’s used to at home! – while my dad had another condo to himself. We took the one that had the bunk bed on the higher floor with the better view since we knew we’d all be hanging out in our condo more often, given the child situation.

The condos were both nicely decorated, clean, and spacious. The master bed was super comfy and there was so much closet space, it was easy to hide the massive quantities of stuff we brought with us. And that view…. I mean, come on. That doesn’t suck.

The Beaches

Even though I grew up in Florida, I had never been to this part of the state, and haven’t been to the pandhandle at large since 2013. I did not realize just how gorgeous the water is or how nice the beaches would be. Absolutely stunning! Skyler was thoroughly unimpressed, however, and hated being on the beach. (This shocked us; he loves playing in sand!)

The water was too chilly for my liking, but we were there in early May, so the weather wasn’t that hot. Temperatures never got above the mid-80s. We did have two rainy, overcast days, but most of the time the sun was out and we were diligent about our sunscreen. The Husband likes to make fun of the fact that when I go to the beach, I’m the only one covering up under layers of towels, but hey, I don’t want skin cancer!

The beaches were not crowded, but the weekend we left crowds were picking up. We definitely went at the right time!

The Food

One of the appealing things about staying on a resort property was the convenience factor for eating out. With restaurants scattered throughout the various hotel properties as well as the main wharf village area, dozens of food options were within a 10-minute golf cart ride. The wharf village reminded me of a very small Disney Springs; cute, tidy, curated, walkable, jam-packed with retail, restaurant, and entertainment options. If we ever had to wait for a table (which only happened once or twice), we could kill time walking about. It definitely made things simple during meal times!

The food quality itself pleasantly surprised us all. Too often, food at resorts, on cruises or fancy hotels can be overpriced and mediocre, so that’s what we expected. But all around, the food and drinks were moderately priced and good in terms of quality and variety. We only had a couple disappointing or lackluster meals (and what is up with this horrible trend of breading french fries?! You’re ruining the integrity of the potato!), and enjoyed several very good, delicious meals. The Husband and my dad ate tons of oysters; we all enjoyed our fair share of fried seafood; and I ate my weight in fresh fish. We splurged one night for a fancy dinner at Seagar’s, a white dining cloth and dress code sort of place, and had excellent service, a fantastic wine selection, flavorful dishes with artistic plating. Would recommend!

The Resort Property

The Playground! The scenery! The Village! It was all so lovely. Very well maintained and scenic, full of beautiful landscaping. The Village at Baytown Wharf, though cheesy and fabricated, provides lots of all-age entertainment, retail, and food options that made it a convenient place to spend a couple hours to entertain all of us, every day. Lots of good photo ops for Mama 🙂 One of the BEST parts of the Village was the massive, all-ages playground called the Treehouse. We visited it several times and the Mooch never got tired of running around; he’s still not into slides, but he sure had run climbing and running.

We drove around most of the property (in the golf cart, natch) and were impressed by the beauty of the neighborhoods and sections, regardless of which pricing tier the accommodations were in. Everything from the most expensive mansion down to the most basic condo building seemed to be clean, tidy, kept up to date. It was fun and relaxing to jet around the property, enjoying fresh air and taking in all of the sights and sounds.

The Pools

Every building and neighborhood on the resort property has its own pool that the guests and owners are allowed to use. But, what I don’t think many of the guests realized, is that there are other pools on property that guests also have access to. As a pool lover, it was my goal to visit them all, but with the weather not being quite hot enough to warrant getting in the frigid water, I didn’t quite hit my goal. (There’s always next time!)

The blue sun icons represent pools that are open to ALL guests and residents.
Our building’s pool was unfortunately under construction, which was a shame because look how awesome the new pool is going to be!
We stayed in Beachside 1, where the pool was not open. We did have access to the Beachside II’s pool but it was tiny with an uninviting deck area; we didn’t even take a photo of it.
The Beach House restaurant also has a pool that is accessible to resort guests.
Bayside pool was farthest north on the property, with a nice view of the bay, and our least favorite of the SOA pool areas so we never hung out here.
The Linkside pool was never crowded and offered ample shaded reading spots. The water was cool but not as cold as the ocean, and the little kiddie pool was a bit warmer. We came here a couple times with Skyler.
The best pool was hands-down the Phil Hummel Aquatic Center pool in the middle of the resort property. Heated, zero entry, tons of seating.

The Golf Cart

Um. Best. Idea. Ever. If you ever have the opportunity to rent a golf cart on vacation… do it. It made life SO much easier for schlepping all of us to and from dinner and the pools, and it was HELLA FUN to drive! Now I want to do this on EVERY vacation! All of us loved it, especially Skyler. He hasn’t shut up about the golf cart.

The Big Question: Would we go back?

1000000% YES! This was EXACTLY the relaxing, peaceful, beautiful, simple, easy vacation that our family needed. We never left the property (besides a grocery and booze run at the very beginning; there’s a Publix five minutes away) and frankly didn’t need to. We had everything we needed on site; dozens of places to eat, plenty of activities, and heck, with the golf cart we were all easily occupied and entertained. (Seriously, have I mentioned how fun renting the golf cart was?!) We were all able to turn our brains off, put our feet up, crack open a beverage of our choice, and truly vacate. It was perfect.

Have you ever stayed at a condo resort like this? What’s the best beach vacation you’ve ever had? What other condo resorts should we consider for future relaxing family beach vacations? How do you feel about golf carts? 🙂

7 comments

  1. Great story. Sandestin is not in Destin, by the way, it’s in Miramar Beach. Also, you can golf cart to the Publix as there is a back golf cart only gate to get into Grand Boulevard. Grand Boulevard is one of our favorite things about Sandestin. Hope you got to hang out there.

    Like

    1. We weren’t sure if we could get to Publix with the golf cart so that’s great to know for next time! Thanks!!

      Like

  2. Stayed there a couple of years ago and absolutely LOVED IT. Son had graduated from West Point and this was our time together before deployment. We had his two brothers and five best friends there and everyone had a great time with plenty to do. Some couldn’t believe how beautiful the sand and water were. I am shocked by it, also. Being from south Florida, I didn’t know such beautiful beaches existed in that area. We prefer them and WILL be back!!

    Glad that you had a great trip. The fall is a great time to go, because the Gulf is still warm and the crowds have thinned👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stayed in Beachside II last May and are going back this May. My son and I love this place. We both are beach bums so we’re always at the beach. This year we vowed to do the bike rental around property. Can’t wait to sit on the balcony and in the sand. We did not use the pool it was a little crowded for my taste and didn’t get a golf cart. Is there an option to rent one? I would prefer it, we used the shuttle last year. Was nice it brought us everywhere

    Like

    1. From what I understand, you can only rent a golf cart if the owners of the condo have one for you to rent; you can’t just rent one from an agency. We are going back the first week of August and found a condo with a golf cart again since it made getting around SO easy. We never actually tried the shuttle! Which property are you staying at in May? We’re doing Westwinds this time! (We did Beachside last year.)

      Like

  4. Love Sandestin! The beaches are amazing and the community is safe and very clean & well maintained. With 4 golf courses, 15 tennis courts and 30+ restaurants available by golf cart, it is a family paradise.

    Our favorite place is the condos at Westwinds. It is the best maintained, and has the nicest pool (heated) and a private beach area. This becomes very important during the very busy summer season.

    You’re so right about the golf cart. That’s all our kids talk about. We took it everywhere, from Publix for groceries, to Bay Town, to all the 30+ restaurants on-site. Our favorite restaurants for happy hour are The Wine Cellar, Vintage, Tommy Bahamas, and Cantina Lorado. For a fun time, check out the dualing pianos at Rum Runners.

    Definitely one of our best family vacations ever.

    Like

    1. We’re going back in August and I’m pretty sure the unit my dad picked is at Westwinds!! (and it comes with a golf cart, haha. Legit the best part lol) We seriously looked at like a dozen other resorts to maybe try something new, but none of them are quite as sprawling with so much on site as this one. It’s just soooooo easy. We didn’t have to use the car all week, which was just great.

      Thanks for the recs! My hubs and I did not have a chance to catch the dueling pianos at Rum Runners last time but *both* of my parents are going with us this time, so I know we’ll be able to sneak in a couple date nights :-p

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: