Sandestin Resort: Sandestin Resort is an enormous golf and beach community that spans the land between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a guarded and gated community with full time residents and vacationing guests. It is divided by the Emerald Coast Highway/Highway 98 into the bay side and the beach side. There are numerous neighborhoods and communities, each with their own homeowners association. Some are rental capable, and some are not. The resort population swells in the summer with vacationing guests, and subsides in the winter. The resort has its own rental management company called Sandestin Rentals. Some owners use them, but there are many management options in the area, and some owners choose to rent their property themselves through the internet, like I do. The resort hosts many golfing and sports events, and community events and fundraisers. Everyone is welcome to attend. There are restaurants and shops, children’s attractions, and a lawn for open air concerts. There is a shuttle service that takes you around the resort from the beach side to the bay side, and back. There are fireworks shows at the Village of Baytowne Wharf, and on the beach. The resort is huge. There is golf, tennis, spa, beach service, bikes, jet skis, fireworks, festivals, farmers markets, movie theater, grocery store, shopping, and too much to name. It is a destination not only for its guests, but also for vacationers who stay at other properties in the panhandle. Please do not believe the myth of the “amenity card.” There is no such thing. You are welcome to do anything, participate in everything, enjoy all the facilities, and patronize any merchant in the resort.
Westwinds: Westwinds in one of three rental capable high-rise condo buildings directly on the beach. The other two are Beachside I and II. Westwinds has a distinctive beige color and red roof, and is the west-most building. The other towers on the beach are Southwinds, and they are not rental capable. The Hilton is directly on the beach; it is a luxury hotel, and it is really pricey. Westwinds is nicknamed the Jewel of the Emerald Coast because it is the premier property at the premier resort at the premier coastline of the Florida panhandle. It is simply the best. Westwinds has a beautifully landscaped property with a meandering brook and waterfall, a huge pool and hot tub. The pool is heated to bath-water warm in the winter. It is the only property at Sandestin that does this. There is a tiki hut food and drink bar at the pool that is open in the spring and summer. There is a gym, grills, ice machine, plenty of parking, tram service, and beach service ($190/week). The beach in front of Westwinds is private property, and never gets as crowded as other areas at the resort.