We have four condos, all four at Westwinds at Sandestin resort. Three of the condos are two bedroom units, and one is a one bedroom. I rent them myself. You can see the availability on the VRBO calendars of each condo. You are welcome to contact me by email if you have any questions or if you would like to book something.
Align in the Sand:
My hubby, Chris, and I own the condos. The one we have owned the longest is Cady Cay. We bought the other three over the years. I rent them myself, and I have a small army on site to clean and do maintenance. We live in Birmingham, AL, and get down to the beach three or four times a year, for sure, and hopefully, even more.
I do not repost reviews here on this website because I control this website. So, obviously, I would only post good reviews, and that does not help you. But I rent my condos through VRBO. And despite its many faults, the one thing it does well is untainted, autonomous reviews by guests. After his or her stay, a guest has the opportunity (and I think, a duty) to leave a review on the condo’s site. The owner cannot alter or delete that review. The owner can comment or defend himself or herself, but cannot remove it from the site. So to a guest, the VRBO reviews are probably the most important resource in determining the quality of a property. Each of my listings on VRBO has a section for reviews. Please take the time to read through my reviews. If you are interested in one of my newer properties at Westwinds, which do not have many reviews yet, it would help you to read the reviews of my other properties to get a sense of what my guests have to say about their stay.
To me, the reviews are more a reflection of how lucky I have been to have hosted such wonderful families and to have been a part of their vacation memories, than how great my condos are.
Here are the links to each condo’s reviews:
Align in the Sand
You can go to that condo’s VRBO listing and see the calendar. I always keep my calendars up to date. If the calendar has a minimum number of days requirement that you cannot meet, email me. I may be able to make an exception for you if it does not make my calendar too wonky.
The condos are listed on VRBO. You are welcome to book through VRBO if you like. But you are also welcome to contact me and book directly through me. If you have any questions about your dates, the rate, or the property, please feel free to email me or call me. Belinda Kimble, firstname.lastname@example.org, 205-520-8859
The information I get from you is designed to help me and Sue and Susie get the condo ready for you. I ask you where you are coming from, driving or flying, arrival time and departure time, home address (so I can return forgotten items) and cell numbers, children’s ages and gender, and whether you need any baby equipment. I love it when you share your beach pictures with me, sign my guest book, and leave me a review on VRBO. But your only obligation is to get some rest, play with your kids, reconnect with your spouse, and take a walk on the beach at sunset and allow the sound of the waves to remind you that life is eternal.
The condos are on VRBO. The rates are per noctem, which is the most accurate way to describe the charges, as your arrival day is not a full day, and your departure day is not counted at all. So the most accurate way to calculate the rate is by the night spent at the condo. The nightly rates change with the seasons, with peak being summer, and off being winter. I add a cleaning fee on top of the nightly rate of $150 for a two bedroom condo and $125 for the one bedroom. This is exactly what I pay Sue and Susie. I also have to collect 11% tax on that total. If you pay through VRBO, they add another charge that they call “Service Fee.” They say that they calculate it on a sliding scale, and that it is between 4 and 10 percent of the rate. You are also welcome to contact me and book directly through me. If it is off season and you are military or a public servant, or if you are experiencing hardship or special circumstances, send me an email. I am happy to give you a discount to thank you for your service or to help you through a trying time.
When you reserve through VRBO, they accept all major credit cards. I have it set up where your initial payment made at the time of booking is the minimum possible, $10. However, VRBO adds their entire “service fee” at that time, so that the initial payment can be $100-200. Sixty days before your arrival you will get a reminder from VRBO that your second and final payment is due, and you can pay that through VRBO.
If you need to split your payments differently, just let me know. It is no problem to do that.
You are also welcome to book directly through me. Just email me and let me know which condo and dates you are interested in. I will be in touch with your total and payment method.
When you reserve through VRBO, that is a fee they add to my rate. That money goes to them. They justify it by saying that they provide the guest with recourse should the reservation turn out to be a problem. They take that entire fee when you make your first payment through VRBO. I only take $10 from your first payment. For the record, I already pay an annual fee to list my condo on their website. If you book directly through me, there will not be a service fee.
As you can probably tell from their website, VRBO makes money various ways. They advertise rental cars and other vacation commodities. And when you pay, they ask you if you would like to purchase vacation damage insurance and cancellation insurance. I assume they make money off these sales. They do not tell me whether you have purchased insurance, and I do not make any money off of it. I have the option of making the damage insurance mandatory, but it is pricey, and I do not want to require it. With all that being said, I cannot tell you either way whether you should or should not purchase these policies. It is up to you. But what I can assure you is that disappointing accommodations will not be your problem. If you have other looming issues, such as tenuous health, work emergencies, or travel difficulties, then the insurance VRBO offers might be worth considering.
I adopt the “Relaxed” cancellation policy of VRBO/HomeAway. You will receive a full refund if you cancel within 14 days before the beginning of your arrival date, and 50% refund, less the “vrbo service fee,” if you cancel between 13 and 7 days before your stay, and zero refund if you cancel within six days of your stay. However, I go one step further. With your permission, I will open up your dates and try my best to rent them out. I will refund to you all of the rent obtained from the re-booking of your dates. In other words, I will not take a windfall from your cancellation, and I will do my best to assure that neither one of us is out any money.
Yes, I do. You can see it under the Rental Policy tab above. And you can see it on VRBO at the payment page, and you have to check the Accepted box when you reserve.
You must be 25 or older. If you are chaperoning a group of young adults, this property is probably not the best fit for you and your group. Security and cameras are ever-present. I can assure you that the adults at this property, many of whom have small children, will not tolerate any misbehavior, and will absolutely call security and the Walton County police to have you removed. Underage drinking is prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. The adult in charge of the premises (and that would be you) could also be criminally liable, arrested and prosecuted for the underage drinking of any minor within his or her supervision on the premises.
These are our condos. We rent them ourselves. There is no middleman, no management company. We can do whatever we want, and what we want to do most is to spoil you on your beach vacation.
Nothing, probably. And if I were to look at my resume for this position, I would not hire me. But somehow, everything comes together better than a management company could ever do it. My theory is that I do not see what I do as vacation rental management. Rather, I feel like the custodian (not the owner) of beautiful condos at the beach. To help me afford the condos, I invite very nice people to stay in my condos at a fair rate, and they accept. My personal sensibilities help me run a tight ship: My lawyer brain is detail-oriented, my mom heart is function-oriented, my artist eye is aesthetic-oriented, my military upbringing is structure-oriented, my dreams are compassion-oriented, my champagne taste is luxury-oriented, and my lazy butt is comfort-oriented. I love to stay in all of my condos. And while they may not be perfect, they may be perfectly all right.
The Sandestin area was named in the 1970s, and its name comes from its two nearest cities,Santa Rosa Beach and Destin, ergo Sandestin. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a trademarked name for the gated community in the Sandestin area. Miramar Beach is the incorporated city that everything lies in. This same area is also referred to as East Destin, or just Destin. If you are confused and your GPS is about to explode, just put in the zip code, 32550, and no matter what city name it wants to use, it should get you there. Sandestin Resort is a huge, 2,400 acre golfing resort with four championship golf courses, spanning from the bay to the gulf. It is divided into the bay side and the beach side by highway 98. Our condos are on the beach side of the resort. Westwinds is right on its own private section of beach. You have access to everything the resort has to offer. There are tram passes for you to take the tram to the bay side and visit the Village at Baytowne Wharf. There is golf, tennis, spa, beach service, bikes, jet skis, fireworks, festivals, farmers markets, movie theater, grocery store, shopping, and too much to name.
Please do not believe the myth of the “amenity card.” There is no such thing. It is a tale woven by a desperate rental company to scare you. It is a terrorist tactic to compel you to rent through them, to pay dearly for a condo not of your choosing, and to increase your rental rate by 14% in order to contribute to a non-existent resort fee. As my guest, you are welcome to do anything, participate in everything, enjoy all the facilities, and patronize any merchant in the resort. The vendors in the resort are private, and they will do business with you whether you are staying in the resort, or even if you are not. They charge for their services, and you pay them directly.
About two to three weeks before your arrival, I will email you arrival information. It will contain detailed information about your condo, your building, the resort, and the area. It will also contain your door code.
Your arrival time is dictated only by Sue and Susie’s cleaning schedule. There is no charge for early arrival. You are more than welcome to arrive whenever you like, but your condo may not yet be ready if you arrive too early. Generally speaking, Sue and Susie clean one or two units on one day. If your unit is cleaned first, it will be ready by 1-ish. If it is cleaned second, it will be ready around 3-4pm. If the prior guest left early and Sue and Susie got an earlier start, it will be ready earlier. I say 4pm check in because your unit should be ready no later than 4pm. But they will usually have your unit ready to go before 4pm. If Sue and Susie know you are coming early, they will text you and me, and let us know when they are finished. You are also welcome to call or text them and check on their progress. Westwinds has a restroom in the building, and you are welcome to grab the pool bands from the condo and wait by the pool or beach until your condo is ready.
I am amazed at how easy it is to make this mistake: Believing that the last day of your trip is the last full day of your stay rather than the day you are leaving. In fact, the last day of your reservation is the morning you are leaving. Please check, and recheck, the dates and the corresponding days of the week, to make sure your reserved dates are what you wanted to reserve. My mind reading is improving with experience, but I still cannot always tell when someone accidentally books the wrong dates. And sometimes, especially in peak season, I cannot accommodate your intended reservation versus what you actually booked.
I pay Sue and Susie $150 to clean the two bedroom condos. Some rental companies charge less, but they deal with cleaning services that over-schedule, use cheaper linens and have no continuity. I strongly believe that you get what you pay for. Sue and Susie are not only your housekeepers, they are your onsite managers, ready to help with anything that you may need. Having them work together means that they can get you in your condo earlier upon arrival. Moreover, they make sure my cabinets are stocked, and set out any special supplies that you might need for your young children. To me, they earn their fee not only because of the fantastic cleaning job they do, but also because of the consistency and continuity of their work. I think you will agree.
We are known for stocking our condos. We want your vacation to be stress free, and most importantly, as much a vacation for mom as for the kids. In pursuit of this goal, we stock this unit with basic kitchen items, such as salt and spices, sugar, tea and coffee, oil, condiments and more. We also keep paper plates and plastic cups, foil, wraps, paper towels and ziplock bags in the cabinets for you. Under the kitchen sink I have dish soap, hand soap, dishwasher pods, wipes and garbage bags. The laundry room has detergent, stain spray, and dryer sheets. I have basic bathroom items under the sink, including shampoo and conditioner, baby bath, hair dryer, extension cords, hair ties, Q-tips, toilet paper and baby wipes. You will have a collection of the highest quality bathroom amenities I could find, Poggesi, from Italy, and a travel bag with personal accessories. For children I have two packnplays with sheets and blankets, toddler cot with sheets and blankets, bed bumpers, high chair, pumpkin seat sling, stroller, baby bath, swim diapers, baby wipes, baby lotion, adult camping cot and sheets for bigger children, water floats, baby spoons and baby sunscreen. Netflix has a channel for kids, and I try to keep books and dvds for children in the second bedroom. I also have a motion sensor you are welcome to use for little escape artists.
Yes. You have passes in the condo that give you access to the tram service over to the bay side of the resort. The tram takes you to the Village at Baytowne Wharf and Grand Boulevard. At Westwinds, the tram stops in the lower garage.
Yes, you sure can! The beach service is a private vendor, and they an equal-opportunity credit-card taker. It is $45 per day, and $190 per week. They only take credit cards. As the week progresses, they move your umbrella further toward the front.
Yes! We have several bikes at Westwinds in youth and adult sizes, plus a tagalong for younger children. We also have helmets for the kids. If you want to rent bikes, I recommend John and Rose at Coastal Cruisers: 850-543-6146.
The washers and dryers are new, and are high quality. However, as with all front load washers, you need to leave the washer door open when not in use so that it has a chance to dry and not form mildew. You are welcome to wash my towels and sheets. However, please do not wash them together in the same load as lint gets on the sheets. And please do not wash my white towels with colored beach towels, as the white ones get dingy that way. You can wash the white coverlet with the sheets, though. For sheets and towels, and even clothes and bathing suits, with normal dirt-age, you will find that the Express Wash setting on the washer is your new best friend. If they are heavily soiled or teen-boy funky, you will probably need the normal wash setting.
The Westwinds pool is heated to bathwater warm in the winter. It is the only property at Sandestin that keeps its pool this warm. (A heated pool is a relative thing.)
Yes, Absolutely! I cook all the time, and rarely go out to eat. (I have a weird apprehension toward restaurant food.) Every unit has a big new refrigerator, a full size dishwasher, and a big kitchen sink. You have every cooking vessel, utensil, and small appliance needed. You also have everything you need to bake.
I thought I was the only one! Yes, I am really weird about my sheets and towels. My fair skin will break out in a rash at the slightest provocation — scratchy sheets, rough towels, bleach or lye residue. And although the cute, matchy bedspreads look great in pictures, I really want a freshly laundered cover on my bed. When possible, I travel with my own linens. I assure you that you will not have to do this in my condos.
We provide the towels and linens, not a service. This means that you have the highest quality commercial hotel and spa sheets and towels I could find, Comphy brand. (Comphy.com) They have the kind of feel where you will compulsively search around the edge of the sheet or towel for the label to see what can possibly feel so good. Even your kitchen dishcloth is a Water Liberty Nano towel. The cute bedspreads are gone, and in their place is a crisp and clean white coverlet; no more reused bedspreads. I have beach towels you are welcome to borrow, and additional, new pillows if you need them.
Every towel is inspected and folded by Sue and Susie, and the sheets and coverlets undergo inspection, also. (I have many reject towels and sheets at my home that I gladly use and enjoy.) But your linens will be fresh, soft and smooth, and brilliant white.
Okay, so you now know that I am weird about restaurants, linens, and tap water. But I am not so much weird, as I just want to know where stuff comes from, what’s in it, and where it has been. All of my kitchen refrigerators are new, and have a state-of-the-art filter on the water line. The dispensed water is filtered, and the ice is made with filtered water.
The city water is supplied by the South Walton Utility Co., Inc. The water source is ground/well water, and it is disinfected with chlorine and trihalomethane (TTHM). It also has fluoride added for children’s teeth. It is safe to drink, but may taste a bit off because you are not used to it. For this reason, alone, I prefer not to drink it. And I also prefer to avoid the chemical additives.
If the tap water is not to your liking, you can buy bottled water at Publix. However, I am picky, and I trust the refrigerator water filter. I even have a particulate meter, and I test the filtered water whenever I am at the condos. The filters are doing their job, and the particulate numbers are always low, comparable to bottled water. Also, I can smell chlorine in my water even before I taste it, and the filtered water from the fridge has none. For this reason, we always just use water from the refrigerator to make coffee, tea, or juice. I even refill my water bottles from the refrigerator water dispenser. (For more information see: http://swuci.org/water-
I am extremely sympathetic, and the condos are owned and cleaned (by me, and Sue and Susie) by women who also have allergies and OCDs. Please let us know what your special needs are, and we will do everything possible to accommodate you, from cleaning with only vinegar or lemon juice, to changing air filters just for you.
Here is what we do, generally:
The pools are checked every hour for contaminants and chemical levels. In the condos, Sue and Susie use green cleansers, and use bleach only when necessary for mildew abatement, and even then, only in targeted areas. Your condo will not smell like chemicals or bleach. All of your bed linens, including the bed covers, are freshly laundered. We have done away with the cute “matchy” bedspreads. The mattresses and pillows are protected with cotton covers, not plastic. There are no pets allowed, and no smoking, ever. The towels are white cotton/bamboo. The kitchen washcloths are microfiber. The water filter in the refrigerator is changed regularly, and the particulates checked with a meter. The beach closet has sunscreen and umbrellas to keep the sun off of you. The condos are equipped for cooking, with big refrigerators, so you can prepare your own organic foods. The bathroom soaps and shampoos are high quality, and mild.
My allergies are sensitive skin allergies, smoke, and food allergies: I wear long sleeves to the theater or on airplanes because the arm rests cause my forearms to break out; I take my own sheets when I travel; I do not go out to restaurants. I am really picky and I assure you, I am fine in my condos.
Westwinds has a small gym on the property, with treadmills and weight machines. There is a big, heated pool that is exercise friendly. The resort is very flat for walking, jogging, and biking. You can go as far as you like on the beach as long as you stay within thirty feet of the water’s edge, to make sure you are not on private property or wildlife preserve. I do not recommend ocean swimming as exercise due to the strong currents and riptides, even in calm water. Westwinds has a hot tub by the pool for tired muscles.
This is a BYODT condo. (Bring your own duck tape.) But other than that, I have everything you need for the littles. No one has had more children at the beach than I. Believe me, I know how it works. I have two packnplays with sheets and blankets, toddler cot with sheets and blankets, bed bumpers, high chair, pumpkin seat sling, stroller, baby bath, swim diapers, baby wipes, baby lotion, adult camping cot and sheets for bigger children, water floats, baby spoons and baby sunscreen. Netflix has a channel for kids, and I try to keep books and dvds for children in the second bedroom. I also have a motion sensor you are welcome to use for little escape artists.
And finally, there are several spas in the area, and a couple on the resort. I suggest booking an appointment and letting hubby keep the kids for a couple of hours.
Westwinds does not allow pets on the property. The two exceptions to this rule are that owners who live in their condo can have pets, and service dogs for the impaired are always welcome. For the record, I love dogs and this is not my rule.
Slow, painful death. For the record, this is also what happens if you smoke outside the condo. All of my condos are non-smoking units.
Absolutely! But if someone joins you during your stay, it is always easier for them to get through the guard gate, especially at night, if you let me know so that I can put them on the gate guard list. Please do not feel like you need to “sneak in” extra folks by me. I love big families, and friends are always welcome. If the accommodations are tight, and you like it that way, that’s fine with me. If they join you by the pool or beach, they will need to have pool bands, also. If you need extra bands, just let me know.
Yes! There are grills on the patio by the pool if you want to grill out at Westwinds.
Yes. Westwinds has a large ice machine in the garage that dispenses potable bagged ice and takes credit cards.
Eglin Air Force Base is nearby, and the jets are conducting practice maneuvers. That is the official story. Personally, I think the pilots just enjoy God’s view of the most beautiful beach on Earth.
The resort is gated, and all guests are required to obtain and display a pass on their dash. A camera records all vehicles in and out of the resort. Security guards are posted at the gates, and patrol the resort at all times. Westwinds has cameras throughout the inside and outside of the property. The Westwinds parking deck, building, and beach access have a keypad entry. And your Kaba lock records all attempts to gain entry. Your condo door has a secondary lock that cannot be bypassed, except by emergency personnel. I have visited a lot of properties along the coast, and to me, the resort has the safest feel, especially with children.
I know it is probably a little bit scary renting from an individual on VRBO. The only reason I rent my condos myself through VRBO is because I can do it better than a management company. Nothing is more important than your vacation, and you deserve the royal treatment. If you are new to VRBO, my best advice to you if you are considering any property is to read the reviews of the units you are considering. Pictures can be retouched and descriptions can be misleading. But the reviews on VRBO are unbiased, and cannot be manipulated by the owner. I understand completely that there is a measure of confidence that goes with renting from a big company. But if you give me a chance, I will prove to you that you do not have to be big to be great. You will discover more than a beach house — you will have a home at the beach.
Now how is that a fair question? Asking me to pick my favorite condo would be like asking me to pick my favorite child. Well, when you put it that way, it’s not so hard, after all. My favorite condo is Cady Cay. It was our first, and the one in which we have our family memories. And for the record, my favorite child is Rocky. He is the baby, and it’s not just me — he’s everybody’s favorite.