Thousands of people visit our beaches every year, and many of them stay at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.
To be exact, the resort sees 550,000 visitors annually, said Mark Hodgdon, Sandestin's vice president and general manager.
With one mile of sugar white-sand beach to its credit, shops, restaurants, golf, tennis, and entertainment onsite, it's a natural choice for many.
The resort offers accommodations in four distinct areas of the property: Beachside, Bayside,
There are four award-winning golf clubs and courses on site — Baytowne, The Raven, Burnt Pine, and The Links.
There are more than a dozen restaurants and eateries on the 2,400-acre property.
Counting bay-front property, the resort boasts more than seven miles of water-front property, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 113-slip marina, water sports, children’s programs, a fitness center and spa, 65,000-square feet of meeting space and a pedestrian village featuring a host of boutique shops, casual and fine dining restaurants, nightclubs and bars with strolling musicians, street performers, dancing fountains and lively festivals and events.
So, it's not surprising that some of those visitors love the experience so much that they decide to stay and make the resort their home.
Hollis and Penny Risley is one such couple.
The Risleys were living in
On the friend's advice, the Risleys changed the weekend reservations they had made for
While here, they discovered Sandestin and shortly after, bought a home in its” The Fountains” community. That was 16 years ago. Ten years ago, they moved here full time.
"In the northeast, people don't know a lot about this coast," said Hollis.
Hollis currently serves as president of the Sandestin Owners Association.
Risley said the SOA has 1,000 households with full-time residents.
In addition to the vacation areas, Sandestin has more than 30 residential neighborhoods. Many of those do not allow short-term rentals.
What's it like to live on the resort full time?
Hollis said it's mostly wonderful.
"It gets really crowded and congested, but I know of no other resort that offers what this one does with its beach, marina, tennis, four golf courses, and that is this beautifully maintained. It has all the amenities anyone would want," he said. "Sometimes we think about moving, but where could we go that is better?"