BY BARBARA SCOFIDIO
South Walton is made up of 16 unique beach neighborhoods, with more than 15,000 guest rooms and 155,000 sf of meeting space. Its 26 miles of sugar-sand beaches are at the center of group activities and teambuilding, everything from hosting a beach bonfire with s’mores at the end of a long day of meetings to building a sandcastle emblazoned with the corporate logo. South Walton is home to four near-shore dive reefs that were deployed by the South Walton Artificial Reef Association and serve as fish habitats, including Dolphins Reef in Miramar Beach, which can be reached by kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
Opening in March 2023, the 85-room Lodge 30A is a boutique hotel being built on Scenic Hwy 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, part of the new Greenway Station shopping and dining destination. The hotel abuts the Point Washington State Forest, with direct access to an expansive network of hiking and biking trails. Attendees will have access to the Watersound Club, which includes a private beach club, Watersound Beach Club, and two private championship golf courses, Camp Creek and Shark’s Tooth.
Also in March 2023, St. Joe Hospitality is slated to open a 75-room, 3-story boutique inn located near Watersound Club’s Camp Creek Golf Course. The Camp Creek Inn will have the most expansive wellness and fitness facilities in the surrounding 30A area. In addition to a health and wellness center, it will be the home to two dining venues, pickleball courts and tennis courts, a resort-style pool complex and a golf teaching academy. Guests will also have access to all Watersound Club amenities, including the beach club and golf.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa is the largest full-service resort on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, with 40,000 sf of indoor meeting space and another 20,000 sf of outdoor event space, accommodating events ranging from 12 to 1,200 attendees. This is a resort that understands how to customize meetings, everything from sunset receptions to private dinners on the beach to teambuilding activities such as Beach Olympics. In their down-time, attendees can relax at the full-service spa, three pools or the private beach.
Hotel Effie features 250 rooms, a spa, a fitness center and a rooftop pool, as well as 20,000 sf of meeting space, including a 13,000-sf ballroom. Attendees have full access to the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort’s meeting space and resort amenities, including four golf courses and 15 tennis courts.
Now America’s fastest growing sport, pickleball has arrived on Florida’s Historic Coast, as this area is known, at The Yards, a new one-of-a-kind sports complex for golf and tennis located in the Sawgrass Players Club neighborhood of Ponte Vedra Beach. The new outdoor event space is also perfect for intimate gatherings and corporate events.
For a creative culinary experience, there’s the just-opened Asado Life, an Argentine-inspired live grilling restaurant in St. Augustine, where attendees dine on covered waterfront patio offers panoramic views of the San Sebastian River. There’s also an option for lounge-style seating around a firepit, and they can accommodate small groups.
On the hotel scene, opening in March 2023 is the Hyatt Place St. Augustine Vilano Beach, a 3-story hotel with 120 guest rooms designed in the classic Florida Vernacular architecture with Art Deco touches. It features fine dining and rooftop restaurants and a second-floor swimming pool with an expansive courtyard. Its event space will accommodate up to 1,200 guests indoors and out, with banquet rooms offering 7,200 sf of meeting space plus nearly 3,000 sf of pre-function space.
Also new on St. Augustine’s Vilano Beach is the Dolphin Bay Scenic Water Shuttle, which provides daily shuttle services across the beautiful Matanzas Bay between St. Augustine Municipal Marina and Vilano Beach and is the perfect way shuttle groups staying at the Hyatt property to St. Augustine’s Historic District.
The 152-room Guy Harvey Resort is an independent oceanfront resort with a casual beachy vibe, but just minutes from downtown St. Augustine’s Old City. It features 4,000 sf of meeting space and a must is an evening event right on the private beach, just steps away.
Also in Florida’s Historic Coast, about 27 miles north of St. Augustine proper, you’ll find the Ponte Vedra Resort complex, home to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club Ponte Vedra Beach. This classic resort, which sits on miles of Atlantic beachfront, has been hosting meetings since 1928. Among the amenities are 15 tennis courts, two legendary golf courses (including the recently renovated Ocean course), a new tournament-style croquet lawn and a new bocce court. The 328-room and -suite resort complex boasts more than 30,000 sf of flexible function space and can accommodate groups of up to 350.