by Karon Warren
Located at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, The Grand Sandestin — one of four buildings in the Grand Complex also including the Lasata, Bahia and Elation — contains 168 units, ranging from studios to three-bedroom condominiums. The Grand Sandestin is a part of The Village at Baytowne Wharf, and is ideally located thanks to its close proximity to a wealth of activities, dining options and shopping. Other offerings at the resort are just moments away via the onsite, complimentary shuttle service and include everything from golf and water sports to nature hikes, biking and tennis. In fact, with so much to do around the resort, families don’t have to venture far to find something everyone will enjoy.
Our Editor Loves
- The Adventure Zone at The Village
- Exploring Jolee Island for pirates
- The easy accessibility to dining, activities & accommodations
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Accommodations at The Grand Sandestin -- as well as within the other members of the Grand Complex: the Lasata, Bahia and Elation -- feature fully furnished studios (396 square feet) and one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Ranging in size from 745 square feet to 1,848 square feet, all multi-room units include a full-kitchen, dining area and living area. Many rooms also have balconies overlooking the pool, bay or resort. In addition, studios come with kitchenettes and have access to laundry facilities.
In the kitchens, you will find some basic necessities, but if you plan to cook in often, you may want to bring your own extra pots and saucepans as well as dishwasher and dish detergent. Likewise, plan to bring your own laundry detergent if you'll be laundering a lot of clothes during your stay.
Please note that daily housekeeping is not provided during your stay; however, for an additional fee, you can arrange to have housekeeping services for your accommodations.
In the middle of The Grand Sandestin complex, you will find two pools and two hot tubs. The smaller pool is a kid-friendly pool at just 4-feet deep throughout.
My wife and I had a flat tire over near the Publix Shopping Center this afternoon and Joseph from the golf maintenance department spent his entire lunch break helping us change our tire. He certainly didn't have to. Yet he was friendly and polite.He enquired whether we were staying on San Destin property and asked how our stay had went thus far. Needless to say I'm very impressed with the quality of people employed by Sandestin. We will definitely be returning.
This was our first stay at this resort. It was me, my husband and our teenage daugter. Daughter and I enjoyed the spa and some of the treatments offered. Top notch! We did not leave the resort for the time we were there. We ate every meal there and just took in the beautiful views. The Sushi is excellent!!! The best sushi I've ever had. My daughter is a Sushi and Sashimi connoisseur. She had sushi every night. The service at the bar is wonderful. The bartenders were very friendly, professional and made wonderful dirty martinis. The breakfast staff, especially the host, leaves a little to be desired.
My biggest issue was our balcony. I specifically requested a balcony without the concrete barrier. I was so disappointed when I walked in the room and there was a concrete balcony. The hotel was not full and I'm not sure why my request wasn't fulfilled. The chairs provided are too short see over the balcony. If you want to see the ocean views you have to stand. I mean the views are what you come for. I will proabably stay here again, but I will make sure I get a railing balcony no matter what it takes.
The Grand Sandestin is just a small part of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort's 2,400 acres. The Village at Baytowne Wharf, perhaps the primary destination for families at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, consists of a collection of activities. Activities include a zip line, a ropes course, a Eurobungy (think bungee on a trampoline) and a rock-climbing wall, among others. All activities require paid tickets, which range in price based on activity and age. Ticket packages are available.
Guests staying at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort can also partake in a number of free activities throughout the resort. These include on-property tram service, four hours of bicycle usage per day, unlimited access to the fitness center, one hour per day of tennis court time, and the use of canoes, kayaks and boogie boards. Biking is one of the best ways to explore the resort, and, thanks to primarily flat topography, getting around is easy and relaxing for even the most casual or novice biker. One note: While the tram service runs every 20 minutes, keep in mind that the tram makes many stops throughout the resort, so it may take more time to reach your destination than walking or biking from your accommodations.
For the golfers in the family, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort incorporates four championship golf courses across the grounds. In addition, there are several practice ranges, an in-house Golf Academy and a junior golf program. If you're looking for a less challenging golf experience, head to The Dunes Putting Course, a mini-golf course perfectly suited for a fun family outing. In addition to smaller putters for children, plastic, toddler-sized putters are available for the youngest player. Please note this is a fee-based attraction.
Jolee Island Nature Park
A terrific way to enjoy Florida's great outdoors is with a visit to Jolee Island Nature Park, an island situated in the Horseshoe Bayou adjacent to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Accessed by a bridge that carries visitors over the water to the island, Jolee Island is full of adventure for children. Whether seeking out the pirate's hideaway or climbing every inch of the playground, kids will love roaming this natural habitat. There are also picnic tables and grills, so families can make a full day out of their visit to Jolee Island.
Capt. Joe Lee's Tree House
Across from the entrance to Jolee Island, guests can take a stroll along Capt. Joe Lee's Tree House and Nature Walk. This short boardwalk trail includes a two-story tree house sure to captivate the attention of little ones. In fact, when biking or walking the trails through Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, there are many spots where guests can stop to observe the wildlife.
Of course, many visitors to the resort come to enjoy the sand and surf, and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort obliges with seven and a half miles of white-sand beaches and bayfront property. However, most accommodations are not located along the water, so it will be necessary to pack up all of your things and take the tram to the beach. You'll need to plan accordingly for a day at the beach so you won't spend all of your time traveling back and forth to your room for forgotten items.
Along with the beach, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort invites guests to enjoy the water with their rental boats, Waverunners, stand-up paddle boards, canoes and kayaks at the 98-slip Baytowne Marina. Fishing trips and dinner cruises can also be arranged at the marina.
If tennis is your game, the resort boasts 15 tennis courts, 12 hydro-grid clay courts and three hard courts. An onsite tennis facility features a clubhouse outfitted with dressing rooms, lockers, showers and a gift shop. Tennis instruction and special events are also available.
Children ages 4 to 12 will love Club KZ, a supervised program of activities throughout the resort. Available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., activities range from treasure hunts on Jolee Island to sandcastle building contests to swimming and trying out all of the great attractions at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. There is a fee for participation in Club KZ, which includes lunch. Advanced reservations are required, registration starts at 9 a.m., and activities begin at 9:30 a.m. Please note all cancellations must be made prior to 5 p.m. the day before or you will be charged for the full day. In addition, there must be a minimum of three children participating for the program to operate, and children should bring sunscreen, a swimsuit, a towel and a change of clothing with them. Children must be potty trained to participate.
Children's Evening Out
In the evening, children ages 4 to 12 can spend some time with their peers at Children's Evening Out, a night of dinner, movies and activities from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations begin at 6 p.m. the day prior and are required by 2 p.m. on the day of the program. If you cancel after 2 p.m. on the day of the program, you will be charged for the evening program.
For guests venturing off property, you will find many nearby attractions as well. For instance, the Big Kahuna's Water Park is comprised of more than 40 water rides and slides for both children and adults. In addition, Big Kahunas offers an Adventure Park with mini-golf, go-karts and thrill rides. Check for packages and discount options as they are frequently offered. There is a small fee for parking and no outside food or beverage is permitted inside the park.
Also in the nearby vicinity, the Track Family Recreation Center keeps visitors entertained with go-karts, mini-golf, bumper rides, thrill rides and a special kids section for younger children. Tickets are required for each ride. Tickets may be purchased individually or there is a bonus ticket package. Local, military and senior discounts also are available.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, where you can bike, bird, canoe, kayak, fish, hike, picnic and swim. There is a small admission fee per vehicle with two to eight occupants. Other attractions of interest include the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, the Destin History and Fishing Museum, Air Force Armament Museum, and National Naval Aviation Museum.
When it's time to eat, families will find many options at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. In fact, there are more than 20 onsite eateries, most located in The Village at Baytowne Wharf. Two particularly family-friendly venues in the village include the Shake Shanty and Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack. At the Shake Shanty, diners can indulge in a burger, fries and milkshake as they overlook the lagoon on one side and the Adventure Landing Play Area on the other. In fact, this is a great place to eat, given the children can play as the food is prepared and again after they finish while mom and dad relax.
Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack
At Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack, kids will love the unique artwork hanging throughout the space as well as the upbeat music pumping through the speakers. It's a great way to keep everyone entertained while waiting for the food to be delivered. Kids also receive crayons so they can draw on the paper-covered tables. In addition, the restaurant has a kids' menu for 12 and younger that features the usual mac-n-cheese and chicken fingers as well as grilled chicken, spaghetti and two shrimp dishes.
This restaurant does attract an older crowd for some of its nightly specials such as "Happy Hour," "Monday Madness" and "Ladies Night," but given the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. for dinner, you can be in and out early enough to avoid these events (and make bedtime!).
Another Broken Egg Cafe
For breakfast or lunch, consider Another Broken Egg Cafe. With two locations within the resort, this morning spot takes breakfast and lunch to a whole new level with creations like the lobster et fromage omelette (cream cheese-laced omelette topped with brie cheese, garlic-sauteed Maine lobster, fresh-diced tomatoes and a champagne cream sauce) and the crab cakes cavallo (jumbo lump crab cakes prepared Benedict style with two poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce infused with andouille sausage and scallions).
Given this might be a bit much for kids, Another Broken Egg Cafe also offers a kids' menu with favorites including pancakes, French toast, bacon, eggs, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese.
Offsite, families will find many dining options as well. Just a brief drive west into Destin, there are a variety of choices, such as McGuire's Irish Pub, which offers a very large menu including a huge burger selection and a kids' menu, and Harbor Docks, a sushi and seafood eatery.
Planning & Tips
The Art of Smart Timing
Obviously, summer is high season at The Grand Sandestin, so you will find great deals and smaller crowds while school is in session, as well as during cooler weather. Spring break and the Christmas holiday season are also very busy at The Grand Sandestin. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort also maintains a year-round calendar of events, so expect crowds to increase a bit during these special event times. For a full rundown of vacation packages and annual events, check out their website.
Three airports serve The Grand Sandestin: Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Fort Walton Beach (24 miles away); Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City (40 miles away); and Pensacola Regional Municipal Airport in Pensacola (65 miles away). Although the hotel does not provide any complimentary shuttle service, airport transportation can be arranged if needed. If driving, the property is easily accessible from Interstate 10.
For Mom and Dad
While the kids are taking part in Club KZ, mom and dad can plan their own adults-only itinerary, starting with a few hours at the Sandestin Day Spa & Salon located at the Linkside Conference Center within the resort. At The Village at Baytowne Wharf, you can enjoy dinner for two at Bistro Bijoux or Marlin Grill, followed by dancing at John Wehner's Village Door. For something truly romantic, set sail on a dinner cruise from the Baytowne Marina.