By Kamille D. Whittaker
The recent opening of The Henderson Beach Resort and Spa in Destin, Fla., sets a new bar for the Emerald Coast’s beachside town that is weathered by time and nostalgia. The hotel, part of the Salamander Hotels and Resorts lineage, commences its run with all the notes and dalliances that the Salamander brand has been known to dream up — with cool emerald and warm sandy colors and textured art that mimic the dune-fringed shoreline and nature preserve it triangulates. If ushered into opulence by its location and classic namesake, in execution — in every way — it holds its own. Beach living requires a different state of mind that The Henderson Resort and Spa seems to have buffed and polished to perfection.
The ways to “beach well” are plentiful. Fuel well first and throughout the day with ample Gulf-to-Table seafood traditions, and creatively healthy fare. Its signature restaurant, Primrose, is fronted by floor-to-ceiling wine selections and backs into a display kitchen and a dedicated experience with freshly prepared sushi. Nearby, a striking octagonal-shaped bar, Horizons, a poolside grill, aptly called Sea Level, and casual, uncrowded beachfront dining are always within reach.
When the sun wants to play, get moving with a guided paddleboard class as you explore the Gulf waters next to the Henderson State Park. Paddle Fit consists of a brief safety lesson followed by isometric and core strengthening exercises on the board. Standing on a paddleboard instantly activates your abdominal muscles to keep you balanced and your core engaged the entire time.
Easily stroll or bike up and down the beach, the adjacent 200-acre nature preserve and into the surrounding community of fine beach homes in Crystal Beach. Or, utilize the resort’s fleet of luxury cars to visit nearby attractions.
Detour to cool off in the quiet draw of the day Spa with treatments that incorporate the coastal surroundings. The 90-minute Neroli Blossom Sensory Experience is the ideal wind-down: deeply relaxing yet sense arousing featuring an energy balancing, eucalyptus-infused foot cleansing ritual with reflexology to clear the mind, a lymphatic dry brush technique followed by a Neroli Blossom therapeutic meditative massage.
Choose your own adventure at the close of the day with sunset salutations on sun decks, or gather around the fire pit — true beach style — with treats from the old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
A deep soak tub awaits in one of the 170 rooms that gift Gulf or garden vistas — perfecting the seafaring canvas. Plush queen or king-sized beds and stately bathrooms with nautical motifs ensure a restful sleep for you to do it all over again the next day.