I’ve never met a beach I don’t like. I don’t even have to be ON the beach. I am happy just being NEAR the beach. I love the sound of the waves and the smell and feel of the salt air. I don’t even complain when my hair frizzes out, haha!
When a group of my blogging colleagues started talking about a working retreat in a beach house on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I was the first to sign up. A chance to collaborate and network with a group of smart and generous women that I love AND do it all at the beach??? Yes, please!!!
The folks at Newman-Daley Resort Properties hosted us in one of their many vacation rentals in the Destin and Fort Walton Beach Area. Newman-Daley has properties of all sizes in the area including luxury homes, condominiums, and a gulf-side hotel located in Crystal Beach.
We stayed at Blue Heaven, a spectacular vacation rental with 10-foot ceilings, gracious archways, an open floor plan, and a gourmet kitchen. It is located in South Walton, just a short walk from the white sand beach. With 7 bedrooms and 61⁄2 bathrooms, there was plenty of room for our party of 10. It would also make a great gathering spot for several families vacationing together or a multi-generational family vacation.
The spacious living area provided the perfect spot for brainstorming and collaborating. (No, an Apple computer was not required for this trip! Ha!)
I was unfamiliar with this area of Florida before this trip, so I’ve been amazed at how many people have commented on my blog posts and Instagram and Facebook updates, sharing their love for the area and advice for places to eat and sites to see. It is definitely an area much loved by many, and I can see why.
The beaches here are stunning. They call it the Emerald Coast because of the bright green waters, but the silvery-white sand is equally gorgeous. I couldn’t resist taking a short run on the beach one morning, but I soon ended up on the bike path because running on the sand was taking a toll on my legs and feet. Later that day, we took our afternoon session down by the water so we could chat social media while enjoying the view.
We were working for much of our trip, but if you’re vacationing, there’s lots to do here. There is phenomenal fishing and championship golf courses. Big Kahuna’s Water Park and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park are fabulous for kids. If you like shopping, the Silver Sands Premium Outlets boasts 110 designer and name-brand outlet stores. They provided us each with a sweet welcome bag chock full of coupons and product samples. I made quick work of the truffles from Harry & David, just sayin’. And then Destin Commons is a mix of one-of-a-kind shops, nationally-recognized stores, kids activities, a movie theatre and various dining options.
Plus there are festive celebrations and special events planned all year round. For example, the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival and the Destin Charity Wine Auction benefit local children’s charities and provide the perfect excuse for a girl’s getaway.
One night we drove down to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, where we walked around taking pictures and enjoying the view.
Even in the off-season, there’s a lot going on.
We were treated to a fabulous dinner at Brotula’s Seafood House, located right on the water. We sampled an assortment of appetizers, and every single one was divine.
For dinner, I ordered the Shrimp & Grits — my favorite Southern meal. I order it every time it’s on the menu. Look how pretty. It was equally delicious. They describe their restaurant as “gulf to shore” dining. Everything is freshly caught, and even the vegetables come from a local farm.
Another day we enjoyed lunch at Vin’tij, a charming wine bistro with what they describe as eclectic cuisine. You can have a sit-down lunch or dinner, and they also offer wine tastings and have a huge selection of fine wines. Their customer service is exceptional, and we were all impressed with the food as well. Plus, the decor is trendy and fun, and it has an intimate feel despite its location in a generic strip mall. You could easily drive right by it and not even notice it, but if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend making time to stop.
We were all sad to leave our charming beach house, but we brought home a wealth of information, new ideas, goals to reach, strategies to implement, and to-do lists to tackle. Best of all, we have fond memories and deepened friendships and business relationships that we will enjoy for a very long time.
Don’t underestimate the value of a weekend getaway with your tribe. We women lead such busy lives, whether we are entrepreneurs or not. I highly recommend gathering your people and planning a time away from the rat race to get refreshed and recharged.