Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., Unveils Vision and Timeline for Henderson Beach Resort

January 27th, 2015

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Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., Unveils Vision and Timeline for Henderson Beach Resort

Located on one of America’s top beaches in Destin, Florida, the multi-phase Resort owned by Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., will be anchored by a spectacular 171-room luxury resort hotel appropriately named “The Henderson”

Opening Spring 2016, The Henderson will be the finest beachfront resort hotel built along Florida’s Panhandle this decade and is being managed by Sheila C. Johnson’s Salamander Hotels & Resorts

DESTIN, FL (January 20, 2015) – Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., Chairman William B. Dunavant Jr., and its President and CEO William B. Dunavant III, today revealed the plan and timeline for the new multi-phase Henderson Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. The Resort will be anchored by a spectacular 171-room hotel named “The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort,” and is considered the finest beachfront luxury resort built along Florida’s Gulf Coast this decade.

The Dunavants told assembled members of the media, business leaders and dignitaries that their team has engaged Sheila C. Johnson’s Salamander Hotels & Resorts, one of the country’s top luxury hotel companies, to assist with the development of and manage The Henderson, which is already under construction and will open in spring 2016.

As the grand anchor hotel, The Henderson will feature sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico and pristine dunes, as well as a thoughtful, residential design. It is located on one of America’s top beaches and also adjacent to the 208-acre, environmentally protected Henderson Beach nature preserve, which will offer a sense of privacy and a plethora of activities. Guests will enjoy nearly two miles of beach renowned for its white powdery sand and emerald-green water.

“The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village landed its biggest tourism catch today,” said Dunavant Jr. “Our vision is to deliver a beachfront level of luxury previously unavailable between New Orleans and Sarasota, and Salamander’s team of professionals is the perfect fit to help us create, manage and operate this destination resort of which the entire region can be proud.”

Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., is the Memphis-based company that owns the Resort. It features three operating divisions: a Global 3PL providing logistics and supply chain management around the world, a real estate and development group, and a capital management company.

“Our planning and development team, Devcon Services Group and JGM Development, have been hard at work for 10 years under the leadership and direction of William Hagerman, our Senior Vice President of Development and Acquisitions,” said Dunavant III. “Hagerman’s vision for this beautiful property was integral in evolving it into the world-class destination resort we are launching today.”

Future phases of the five-phased Henderson Beach Resort project may also add a 95-room beachfront hotel and nearly 200 luxury condominiums. The estimated cost of the overall Resort development exceeds $300 million. The existing beachfront Henderson Park Inn, also owned by Dunavant Enterprises and one of the most acclaimed small hotels in the country, will continue to service guests.

Since ground was broken on The Henderson in January of 2014, the multi-million dollar project has already created hundreds of jobs. An economic impact study projects that the 171-room resort hotel will create a total of over 1,557 direct and indirect jobs. This includes 677 construction jobs, and 261 staff positions that The Henderson will employ.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida businesses have created more than 700,000 jobs since December 2010, and the creation of the Henderson Beach Resort is great news for local families and the millions of visitors who come to our state each year. Florida is home to many of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and our tourism industry is a significant economic driver. We are proud to live in a state where so many people choose to live, work and visit, and I look forward to the completion of this project.”

While its origins began as a small fishing village, Destin has grown into a dynamic destination for both leisure and group travelers. It is now one of the Emerald Coast’s most sought-after destinations. In addition to world-class fishing, it offers uncrowded, sugar-white beaches, spectacular open-air shopping, fresh local seafood restaurants and championship golf courses. The harbor is only a five-minute drive from the Resort, which will allow The Henderson’s guests to enjoy numerous water activities, shop in a festive marketplace, and interact with the fleet of fishing vessel captains and crews that pioneered Destin. The area has also attracted celebrities including Jerry Jones, Vince Gill, Blake Shelton, Emeril Lagasse and many others who have purchased homes in the region.

Destin is within a one-day drive of Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, and also easily accessible by air. Its three area airports have seen a surge in expanded service, especially from the Midwest and Northeast, with over 200 daily departures and arrivals from cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

  • Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) near Fort Walton Beach is just 20 miles and 30 minutes away
  • Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City (ECP) is just 50 miles and one hour away
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) in Pensacola is just 75 miles and 75 minutes away
  • The private Destin Airport (DTS) is less than 10 minutes away 

Incorporating a residential theme in harmony with the quaint, adjacent Crystal Beach neighborhood, The Henderson will feature a design inspired by the New England shingle-style architecture already prevalent on Destin’s coastline at the Henderson Park Inn. The Resort will combine an incomparable southern hospitality welcome with incredible views of the sunset across the nature preserve and emerald waters of the Gulf, while The Henderson’s stunning entrance will offer the quintessential Destin experience.

Guests will arrive in a Grand Courtyard, which leads to an expansive Living Room with high ceilings and a wall of windows that faces the preserve and beach. Specifically designed to connect guests to the environment, the Resort will be infused with several gathering areas. 

The beautiful guest rooms and suites will include stylish furnishings, yet remain authentic to the local, cultural surroundings. Larger than typical luxury resort guestrooms, they will feature custom furnishings, luxurious bedding, elegant bathrooms, and gracious balconies or terraces.

The Henderson will celebrate Destin’s Gulf-to-Table seafood traditions, while also serving fine selections of steaks and chops and creatively healthy fare. The Resort will offer a signature restaurant with display kitchen, a striking octagonal-shaped bar presenting freshly prepared sushi, a poolside grill, outdoor terrace dining with sunset views, an old-fashioned ice cream shop and intimate dining on the beach. 

Drawing on the inspirational beachfront venue with treatments that incorporate the natural surroundings, The Henderson’s destination spa will feature 11 spacious treatment rooms, extensive water treatments and amenities, and a women’s locker room which opens onto a private relaxation terrace overlooking the preserve. These spectacular amenities, along with Salamander’s Industry Recognized Spa Expertise, will quickly establish The Henderson as the region’s finest spa.

For those wanting a more active setting, The Henderson will also offer a sun-lit fitness room and a variety of other water experiences, including a family-oriented pool with a lazy river and a quiet adult zone. There will be numerous activities, including a dedicated children’s program.

Guests will easily stroll or bike to the beach, the adjacent nature preserve and into the surrounding community of fine beach homes in Crystal Beach. They can also utilize the Resort’s fleet of luxury cars or concierge shuttle to visit nearby attractions. Neighboring activities include two championship golf courses, incredible shopping at the Destin Commons or Silver Sands Premium Outlet Center, the largest in the region – and a variety of equestrian, water-sports and amusement activities.

Guests of The Henderson will also enjoy a Beach Club experience that features sunset cocktail hours, a wide pristine beach, waterfront dining, umbrella and chair service, as well as a base for activities like sailing, snorkeling and volleyball. The Beach Club will also offer the ultimate beachfront wedding venue.

Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., selected Salamander Hotels & Resorts to manage The Henderson because of its extensive knowledge of luxury hotels and spas, as well as its other award-winning Florida resorts. Within the Sunshine State, Salamander manages Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, Reunion Resort in Orlando, and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. Salamander recently launched the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, located in the historic heart of Washington, D.C.’s horse and wine country. Acclaimed as a top hotel opening in the world, the 168-room property is located just 35 minutes from Dulles International Airport and one hour from Washington, D.C. Salamander is also developing the new Tryon Resort in Tryon, North Carolina.

“There are tremendous synergies between our three existing Florida resorts and The Henderson, and our experience of developing and operating iconic destination resorts will ensure that this property is properly positioned within the luxury market,” said Sheila C. Johnson, Founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “It has been our pleasure in getting to know the Dunavant team over the past few years, and we look forward to creating a resort hospitality environment befitting of its stunning setting.”

The Henderson will feature 10,000 square feet of indoor event space, including a dedicated meeting wing, a spectacular 5,400-square-foot ballroom, a junior ballroom, private boardrooms, and nearly 30,000 square feet of outdoor group options, including unrivalled oceanfront function locations.  

“This will be the most exciting luxury beachfront resort to open in the United States in years,” said Prem Devadas, President of Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “The Henderson will become one of the most sought-after group and wedding destinations in the country because of its unique setting, genuinely warm and friendly staff, accessibility and array of activities.”

The Henderson becomes the newest member of Salamander’s growing portfolio. In 2005, Johnson founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts and appointed long-time hospitality executive Prem Devadas as its president. They have put together a team of executives which has opened and operated numerous Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond-rated properties. Well known as one of America’s top entrepreneurs and the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), Johnson is also a partner and vice chair of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

The Henderson’s architectural and design team is the same which built the acclaimed oceanfront Sanctuary at Kiawah Island in South Carolina: the Resort’s design architect is Cooper Carry of Atlanta and interior design is being provided by Karen Kent of Kent Interior Design in Atlanta. The general contractor, DPR Hardin, is also based in Atlanta and one of the leading hotel builders in the country, while project management is being provided by Shannon Howell of Destin-based Devcon Services Group.

For more information on The Henderson: visit For group inquiries, call 540-687-3710. The Resort is not yet accepting individual reservations.


About Dunavant Enterprises Inc.

Dunavant Enterprises Inc. is a privately owned operating company based in Memphis, Tennessee. With over 70 years of history, Dunavant was the largest raw cotton trader in the world for years with annual sales in excess of $1.5 billon. In 2010, the cotton operation was sold. Today, Dunavant has three operating divisions: a Global 3PL providing logistics and supply chain management around the world, including intermodal port and rail operations; a real estate and development group; and a capital management company. Dunavant has over 40 years of land development experience, having previously developed the signature World Golf Village, home to the PGA Hall of Fame, as well as many other developments. Visit


About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts is a privately owned and operated luxury hotel company based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila C. Johnson in 2005, the company has a portfolio that features a collection of three stellar golf resorts including Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, Reunion Resort in Orlando and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast; the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; and is developing the new Tryon Resort in Tryon, NC, and The Henderson in Destin, FL. For additional information, call (540) 687-3710 or visit

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