The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, has opened its coastal-inspired and luxurious doors. 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.
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 property is owned by Memphis-based Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., and is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila C. Johnson.
“After a decade of development and meticulous planning, our family is thrilled and humbled that opening day is finally here,” said Bill Dunavant III, President and CEO of Dunavant Enterprises, Inc. “An incredible amount of work has been invested into this project, and there are many, many people to thank in making it happen. It has always been our vision to offer a level of luxury previously unavailable between New Orleans and Sarasota while also providing a destination resort of which the entire region can be proud. Today, I can confidently state that we have delivered.”
The Henderson is the anchor resort hotel of still-developing Henderson Beach Resort: future phases of which include condominiums and villa-style resort accommodations. The existing beachfront Henderson Park Inn, also owned by Dunavant Enterprises and one of the most acclaimed small hotels in the country, continues to service guests.
From the moment guests arrive at The Henderson, they are embraced by a residential and old-world charm that is contemplative of the surrounding, unspoiled beauty of the area. There is no lobby but 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. Specifically designed to connect guests to the environment, the resort is infused with several, intimate gathering areas and commissioned artwork created by local and regional artists.
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 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. On the ground floor, Sea Level poolside grill offers chilled drinks and casual fare, while the old-fashioned ice cream shop, Sprinkles, serves up frozen delicacies and children’s candy favorites.
Drawing on the inspirational venue with treatments that incorporate the natural surroundings, The Henderson’s Salamander Spa features 11 spacious treatment rooms and numerous amenities, including a ladies steam room, sauna and whirlpool which overlooks the treetops of the secluded park. Treatments are derived from the Gulf’s crystal waters, untouched dunes and indigenous plants. In addition, there are also specially constructed spa guest rooms, furnished and equipped with sounds and smells of the region, and a variety of spa amenities.
For those wanting a more active setting, The Henderson also offers a sun-lit fitness room and a variety of other water experiences, including a family-oriented pool with a lazy river and an adult zone and pool. There are numerous family activities, including a dedicated Kid’s Club called Poppy’s. Guests can easily stroll or bike to the beach, the adjacent state park and into the surrounding community of Crystal Beach. They can also use the wide, pristine beach as a base for sailing, snorkeling and volleyball.
The Henderson also features nearly 30,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor function space, including several beachfront locations and a Grand Lawn. In its dedicated and flexible event wing, the resort offers the soaring 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 broke ground in January 2014, and the multi-million dollar project has created hundreds of jobs. An economic impact study estimated the development of the resort hotel would create a total of 1,184 direct and indirect jobs. This includes 649 construction jobs and 261 staff positions at The Henderson.
“It has been a pleasure getting to know the Dunavant family and team over the past few years,” said Salamander Founder and CEO Sheila C. Johnson. “Their attention to detail and vision is incredible, and it is a great honor for Salamander to have the opportunity to create a hospitality environment befitting of the resort’s stunning setting.”
While its origins began as a small fishing village, Destin has grown into a dynamic destination and is one of the Gulf Coast’s most sought-after locations served by three airports. In addition to world-class fishing, it offers uncrowded beaches, spectacular open-air shopping, fresh local seafood restaurants and championship golf courses. The area has also attracted celebrities including Jerry Jones, Blake Shelton, Emeril Lagasse and many others who have purchased homes in the region.
The Henderson is less than ten minutes from Destin Harbor, where the resort’s 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. The many popular communities along Highway 30A, including Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, are also just a short drive away.