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Sandestin® celebrates 50 years as premier beach resort, along with its rich history

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® is marking a major milestone as it celebrates its 50th anniversary as a leading resort destination in Northwest Florida. The year-long celebration will feature new experiences, […]

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® is marking a major milestone as it celebrates its 50th anniversary as a leading resort destination in Northwest Florida. The year-long celebration will feature new experiences, special surprises for guests, and throwbacks on social media and memory lane.

The resort has a rich history, starting with its original purpose as a farm for crops and livestock. During World War II, the military requisitioned a large portion of the Gulf side property to research captured “Buzz Bomb” missiles from the Germans. 

  • According to Sandestin, the very first military use of American rockets was also tested and launched over the Gulf from top secret hidden bunkers located on the resort that can still be seen today, if you know where to look

In the 1950s, the land was sold to Winthrop Rockefeller, who later became the Governor of Arkansas, but his plans to develop the land into a coastal neighborhood were ultimately derailed. Walt Disney almost purchased the land in the 1950s for a proposed “Disney World,” but his plans ultimately moved further south. 

In the 1970s, developers with a vision of building a resort community borrowed the “San” from the unincorporated area known as Santa Rosa Beach to the east and mashed it together with “Destin” to the west. Sandestin® was formed in 1973, and its first golf course, The Links, was completed the following year, along with residential neighborhoods and a hotel on the bay, now known as Bayside at Sandestin®.

In the early 1980s, the marina, Baytowne Golf Course, and a beachside high rise were completed, and soon after, The Beach Boys performed right out on the sand for some 12,000 lucky attendees. The 1990s brought immense growth with the completion of restaurants like the popular Marina Bar and Grill, a professional Tennis Club, more distinct neighborhoods, as well as the prestigious Burnt Pine Golf Course.

  • The private Burnt Pine gated community within the Sandestin® gates soon followed, both named after a forest fire that had occurred in a portion of the woods a few years prior. 
  • The Village of Baytowne Wharf also went into development and is now the town center of Sandestin®, filled with festive restaurants, world-class shopping, activities, and annual events.

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In 2003, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic launched with awards totaling $371,000, when a group from Galati Yacht Sales and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® decided it was time to bring a big money tournament back to the Destin area. Total cash and awards totaled nearly $2 million in 2022, according to Sandestin.

The Sandestin Foundation for Kids was founded in 2011 by the owners of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort®, the Becnel Family. The structure of the organization allows for funds to be gifted to children and families quickly in the event of a tragedy. Sandestin says that the goal is to provide support immediately, when it is needed most, to children throughout the community and abroad.

  • Osprey Pointe luxury condominiums welcomed their first guests in 2020, followed by the opening of Hotel Effie Sandestin, the resort’s 250-room hotel, in 2021.

Today, Sandestin® is now home to seventy individual neighborhoods with full-time residents and thousands of lodging options that span the 2,400-acre expanse between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. 

When asked about the success of this journey, Sara Becnel, Asset Manager and Vice President of Development shared, “The secret of the Sandestin experience is in the intentional details, smiles, commitment to service, memories passed down from generation to generation, dedication, and a lot of hard work.” Becnel continued, “We have not simply remained relevant, but have led the tourism experience for guests through a balance of tradition and innovation.”

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort® has come a long way in its five decades of existence, and has big plans for this year’s celebrations. The resort is already inviting guests to capture their #sandestin50 memories by participating in Instagram-worthy photobooth pop-ups, regularly updated and themed for each season of the year. 

  • A special edition refillable cup is also available for purchase at Sandestin® retail and food & beverage outlets for $25. After purchasing the cup, guests can enjoy free soft drink refills for the rest of the year at participating Sandestin® food and beverage outlets.

On March 17, 2023, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the resort will launch four signature beers at its food and beverage outlets. Sandestin® beers include a blond ale, sour ale, pale ale, and a lager. A signature wine is also in development. 

Collectors-edition branded merchandise, including Sandestin-Opoly, will launch later this year, and guests can visit for celebration updates and historical timelines.

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
“Is there a limit on the amount?”
“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”