The Florida panhandle, with miles of sugar sand beaches, secluded bays and a number of large wildlife refuges is referred to by some as the Redneck Riviera. Motels, hotels and guest cottages line the beaches. Luxury hotels on the Florida panhandle belie the redneck moniker. They offer upscale accommodations, private beaches and world class golf courses.
Portofino Island Resort
Portofino Island Resort’s eight miles of white sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico and the Santa Rosa Sound provide a private backdrop for the resort’s five Mediterranean themed guest towers. Two- and three-bedroom suites have private balconies, fully equipped kitchens and upscale furnishings. Guests making reservations directly through the property receive Premier Club amenities like a round of golf each day, weekend dolphin cruises and ferry service. Two restaurants serve locally sourced produce and seafood and a gourmet market sells ingredients for in-room cooking. The full-service spa provides massage and salon treatments, and guests may opt to have salon services provided in their room.
Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort
Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort, a 2400-acre family-friendly property with seven miles of beaches has a remarkable number of facilities. Four golf courses, a 98-slip marina, 19 swimming pools, a fitness center and spa and a village center with shopping, restaurants and an ice skating rink are only a few of them. Accommodations in 30 distinct neighborhoods include condos, villas, vacation homes and hotel rooms. Golf Magazine awarded Sandestin a silver medal in its Top 75 Golf Resorts 2004, 2006 and 2008 lists. The resort plans regular special activities for kids and teens. Sandestin Day Spa offers massage and salon services for men, women and teens.
Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort
Edgewater, the only all-inclusive resort in Panama City Beach, has half a mile of private beach and a lagoon pool with 46,000 square feet of deck. Multiple swimming pools, reflecting pools and whirlpools dot the property. A par-three nine-hole course is on the property and nearby, the 27-hole Hombre club hosts the annual PGA Tour Qualifying School. Accommodations at the resort’s tower have Gulf of Mexico views and villas line the golf course. One- two- and three-bedroom suites have fully equipped kitchens and covered patios or balconies. The activities menu includes parasailing, poolside calypso bands and a Kids Klub.
WaterColor Inn & Resort
Located on Santa Rosa Beach, WaterColor is northwest Florida’s only AAA four-diamond hotel. Included in Travel + Leisure’s 2010 Top Resorts in the US and Canada list, WaterColor encompasses almost 500 acres of land near some of Florida’s rare coastal dune lakes. The resort offers a beachfront inn with 60 rooms and vacation rental homes with from one to six bedrooms. A member of the Florida Green Lodging Program, 50 percent of the property is open spaces. Expert guides lead kayak tours of Western Lake and Grayton Beach. WaterColor Inn’s spa is open every day but Sunday, and in-room spa services bring the masseuse to the guest.
- sandy beach scene on pensacola beach image by Edward Cooper from Fotolia.com