By Rebecca Padgett Frett
With the stress of a 2020 wedding in the rearview, I sat beside my husband in a lounge chair overlooking emerald waters with a tropical cocktail in my now diamond-banded hand. Originally, we were supposed to be on safari in South Africa. Once it is safe, we intend to go, but reflecting back, an Emerald Coast honeymoon was exactly what we needed.
After a hectic year, we came to the realization that we wanted to be pampered and at ease. We wanted a location that was equal parts activities and relaxation, luxury and laid-back. The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa provided that and more.
The first order of business was witnessing our view, which was scenic, serene and seemingly stretched for miles. We partook in a celebratory glass of champagne before we were summoned by the siren song of the gently lapping waves.
A quick call ahead, and our chairs, umbrella and towels awaited us beachside for all-day use. Beachside amenities also include kayaks, paddleboards, volleyball and a beach bonfire set up — optimal romance on a chilly Northwest Florida night. Being a private beach whose sand is stunningly white and pristine, we didn’t have to worry about overcrowding or noise, just peace.
We spent time alternating between the outdoor pool, indoor pool and hot tub. Unless it’s winter, you don’t have to go indoors to dine or drink; Barefoot’s Beachside Bar and Grill is right on the main deck. Nothing hits the spot in the middle of a sun-filled day like a grouper sandwich and a sunburnt margarita.
One of the aspects we anticipated most was the hotel’s award-winning Serenity by the sea Spa. We arrived an hour early to our couple’s massage, where we donned fluffy robes in the separate women’s and men’s spas.
I entered into the tranquility of the cascading waterfall that filled the warm whirlpool, where I soaked before proceeding to the sauna and steam room. I lounged in a massage chair in a darkened room, somehow finding yet another glass of champagne in hand before meeting my husband in the massage room.
The Aromasea couple’s massage was 50 minutes of intense relaxation as the room filled with the scents of lavender and eucalyptus. The massage therapist applied the perfect amount of pressure to my post-wedding stressed body, and we left hazy with bliss.
When I travel, one of the aspects I most enjoy is the food. At Sandcastles, you cannot go wrong with any options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I had the Gulf Coast flatbread twice: blackened shrimp seasoned in Old Bay vinaigrette and asiago cream sauce, goat cheese and pesto. Yes, it was that good. As a sushi lover, my beloved rolls at Hadashi are the Sandestin Sunset and The Lady Bug, all packed and rolled with the freshest ingredients.
The meal that tops the all-time list for both me and my husband took place at the crown jewel of the Hilton Sandestin, Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood. Upon entering, we were treated as if we were the only patrons present. The attention to detail and customer care was exemplary — every question was answered, every glass promptly filled and every pairing flawless.
We began with the burrata — creamy and balanced by the salt of the prosciutto.
I cannot pass up Gulf Coast oysters on any menu, especially when complemented by chilled Brut. My husband dined on a divinely cooked and seasoned 12-ounce center-cut filet mignon that he still mentions on a weekly basis. The sauteed Gulf grouper sliced like butter and exuded flavors I’d never before experienced in seafood.
Sometimes as a couple, all we need is to disconnect from everything except each other. Our honeymoon allowed that to happen. When I reflect on our honeymoon, I will recall all of the beautiful gifts — the nights spent falling asleep to the sound of the ocean, the effortless days spent sun soaked, the wonderful meals we shared and the beach chair conversations at sunset.
Hilton SandestinBeach Golf Resort & Spa has all of the capabilities to host the perfect Emerald Coast wedding. The property offers over 40,000 square feet of indoor space and over 20,000 square feet of outdoor deck. There are three customizable package options that include catering, planning, audio/visual services, photography, decor, cakes, hotel accommodations and more.