Pink and fuchsia azaleas were in full bloom when we arrived at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in northwest Florida. Once inside the resort, we drove slowly (the speed limit never seems to exceed 23 mph) past walking paths, bridges, golf courses and lush green landscaping, until we found our destination — Hotel Effie — tucked amongst the trees. The 250-room luxury property opened in February.
We relinquished our vehicle to the valet and stepped inside the lobby, which has multiple seating spaces. The sophisticated coastal vibe and artwork emulating nature create a serene, almost spa-like environment. The hospitable staff took a few moments to explain some of the hotel’s many complimentary perks. A tram picks up guests approximately every 15 minutes in front of the hotel, providing rides throughout the 2,400-acre resort and to the beach. Two bikes may be borrowed for four hours. Kayaks and boogie boards are loaned free of charge for an hour. With advance reservations, guests may play an hour of tennis for free. The hotel has a 24-hour fitness center featuring Peloton bikes and treadmills, as well as pop-up fitness classes. How about yoga at sunrise on the rooftop? After all that exertion, guests can unwind at Spa Lilliana, with 10 treatment rooms and salon services.
A bellman assisted us with our bags and escorted us to our fifth-floor wheelchair-accessible deluxe king guestroom. A large window framed in black provided a tree-top view of the resort. Measuring almost 425 square feet, there was plenty of space to maneuver. A chair and lamp were positioned beside the window and a bistro table could be used for a meal from Room Service, which will be available in the future. The cabinet contained a mini fridge and safe. An espresso machine is available upon request. The bedside tables had charging outlets — always a convenient feature and the draperies are remote controlled. The spacious bathroom included an accessible tub with grab bars and a hand-held shower head, a blow dryer, and even an extra toothbrush and paste.
A storm was brewing and we hurried upstairs to the Ara Rooftop Pool and Lounge to take photos of Choctawhatchee Bay. When the wind picked up, we went inside the bar for cocktails and watched the sky darken. Drinks can also be found at The Lobby Bar and inside the hotel’s restaurant.
Serving coastal cuisine infused with French flavors, Ovide currently provides breakfast and dinner (lunch will soon be added). Located on the ground floor, there’s a nod to traditional elements with wainscoting, brass elements and a bar that emulates a library with an antiqued mirror. The modern seating adds warm wood tones and the space feels airy with lots of windows looking out on the balcony. The “wow” factor is a floral mural on the ceiling. Starting with a classic shrimp cocktail, we enjoyed a dinner of pan-roasted red snapper with a Thai chili emulsion, pigeon peas, rice and charred greens. Locally sourced ingredients are a priority with the chef. Breakfast features Effie’s biscuits and portions can easily be shared. The wait staff was delightful.
Our two-day stay at Hotel Effie was rejuvenating. We predict this exciting addition to the resort will soon be a favorite with savvy meeting planners and wedding parties.
1 Grand Sandestin Blvd.
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
tel 833 873 3343
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