Gulf of Mexico Rendezvous
By Suzanne Ferrara
For one of the most romantic and extraordinary ‘Adults-Only’ beachfront experiences, head straight to the Henderson Park Inn on the sugar-white sands of Destin, Florida.
Henderson Park Inn, an intimate New England-style bed and breakfast, was named the Most Romantic Hotel on the Emerald Coast by the prestigious Conde Naste Johansens; plus, the Inn earned the title of Most Romantic Hotel in the United States and the 15th Most Romantic Hotel in the World by TripAdvisor. With all those accolades—plus many more–it’s no wonder this distinct Inn has been a longtime standard and tradition for couples’ getaways on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Add to this sanctuary endless indulgent details and its supremely accommodating employees, and you have a top-notch romantic getaway.
Imagine this: You walk into your beachfront suite facing the translucent turquoise waters of the Gulf, and find wine, fresh fruit, and fresh flowers awaiting your arrival—but that’s not all: there’s also the soothing sounds of romantic music playing next to your bed. Next, you open the French doors to hear the ebb and flow of the waves crashing on the shore and you feel the gentle Gulf breeze—the cinematic scene all from your beachfront balcony is second to none. This is about as intimate as you can get on the Emerald Coast!
This all-inclusive experience includes an extensive full breakfast buffet, delicious picnic style boxed lunch, daily happy hour and high-end snacks, including homemade indulgencies (dinner not included). The Inn has 35 luxury rooms and suites, and consists of two Cape Cod-design buildings with wood shingle exteriors and Victorian-inspired furnishings.
There’s a grand veranda, which offers panoramic views of the Gulf, and a large tiki hut bar from which you can wet your whistle in the shade and mingle with guests while sipping your favorite libation, all amid this picture-perfect beach scene. There’s also complimentary cappuccino, gourmet coffees, teas, homemade lemonade and snacks including fresh-baked cookies and fruit offered in both the common area and dining room. (Big Tip: While everyone here is beyond hospitable and friendly, be sure to meet Natalie Voorhies at the concierge desk; she is the epitome of hospitality and will make sure your every need is met).
Henderson Park Inn has a private beach, and included in your stay is full-beach service with an attendant offering cocktails and lunch; plus, there are umbrellas, lounge chairs and towels. You will not have to bring anything with you, or for that matter, have to leave unless you opt to eat your complimentary lunch inside the Inn’s dining room surrounded by glass windows or the stunning veranda. (Tip: Among great beach libations is The Miami Vice, a mixture of Pina Colada and Strawberry Daquiri, and The Henderson Rita, plus they serve local and non-local draft, domestic brews and imported beers as well).
Dinner reservations are highly recommended for the award-winning Henderson Park Inn’s Beach Walk Café, Destin’s ONLY fine dining located directly on the Gulf Coast. Candle-lit tables inside the restaurant, outside on the terrace and on the Sky View Deck make this dining experience truly romantic, and one you’ll want to savor every moment. For an even more unforgettable experience, make a reservation for the Toes in the Sand dinner experience where you can have a romantic dinner for two or more surrounded by tiki lit torches. (Tip: Be sure to make a reservation for this before you arrive). Executive Chef Joe Marlow uses fresh seasonal ingredients in all of his creations including his mouthwatering local Gulf Seafood and sumptuous grass-fed steaks dishes). (Tip: For starters, be sure to try the Smoked Tomato Soup with lump crabmeat followed by the Grouper Vince and/or the New Zealand Venison. For dessert, tempt your taste buds with the Bread Pudding (made with Krispy Kreme donuts) or order he Chocolate of the Day.
Making this experience even more intimate and distinct is the fact that Henderson Park Inn’s next-door neighbor is the 208-acre Henderson Beach State Park with 1.3 miles of unobstructed beach. All of this means the private beach of the Henderson Park Inn connects directly to this nearly-secluded beachfront belonging to the state park service, which in turn is a perfect marriage that creates an unparalleled intimate setting.
As for which of the 35 luxury rooms and suites to choose, well, they all have balconies facing the Gulf of Mexico, kitchenettes with gourmet coffee and bottled water. If you want accommodations fit for a King and Queen, however, be sure to reserve the Presidential Suite. This has everything you could want, including a shower for two! The dining and living area, plus the extra-long front porch lined with several rockers facing the Gulf, make this suite great for entertaining visitors—that’s unless you have the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door.
Need activity? Bicycles and helmets are complimentary and you can ride your two wheels along the scenic beach road or surrounding neighborhoods. Guests can also use the full-service sunlit fitness center (available 24/7) or take a dip in one of two pools at the Henderson Park Inn’s sister property right across the street. While you will have no desire to leave the Henderson Park Inn, the Destin Commons and the Silver Sands Premium Outlets are both nearby.
(Travel Tip: The Henderson Park Inn offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Northwest Florida Regional Airport March through October). (Weather Tip: In August and into September, the Gulf’s water temperatures is in the 80s, making these glistening waters even more inviting).
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