fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

Age Becomes Her

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Turns Twenty-five

By Christy Kearney

In 1984, “Thriller” topped the music charts, Gremlins took over the box office, Ronald Reagan ruled the White House, and the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa made its debut just east of a sleepy little Florida fishing village called Destin.

Now, twenty-five years later, the entire Northwest Florida Gulf Coast has become a bustling tourism community, and the Hilton Sandestin is still in the spotlight as the largest of the premier luxury full-service Gulf-front hotels in the area.

As the resort hotel marks its silver anniversary, it proves that some things just get better with age. Since the beginning, the Hilton Sandestin Beach has been the backdrop for special moments, from meaningful family vacations and family reunions to weddings and important business meetings.

“Many of our loyal guests grew up coming to the beach and staying at the Hilton,” says Marshall Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing for the resort. “As they have grown and their families have grown, we keep making the Hilton Sandestin experience special and memorable.”

“Couples who were married here now bring their families for spring break,” he continues. “Guests who came to the beach with their parents or on business now come for girlfriend and golfing getaways.”

With an average of 70 percent of the resort’s guests returning for a second visit, those who experience the Hilton Sandestin and its six hundred accommodations, 32,000 square feet of meeting space, award-winning restaurants, luxurious spa, and activities and amenities are clearly pleased and keep coming back for more.

“Throughout the years, we have been committed to reinvesting in facility enhancements to ensure the Hilton Sandestin remains among the finest vacation and meeting destinations in the country,” says Robert Kamm, CEO and president of Sandcastles Inc., who, along with owners Frank Flautt and Fred Alias, had the vision for the Hilton Sandestin twenty-five years ago. “We opened the Hilton Sandestin on December 15, 1984, and it has been a great journey from that opening to this year.”

Mike Chouri, Robert Kamm, and Marshall Thompson vie magazine hilton sandestin beach
Mike Chouri, Robert Kamm, and Marshall Thompson


The Hilton Sandestin Beach started as four hundred condominium hotel units, which according to Kamm was a progressive and ambitious goal in 1984. The new concept was welcomed with open arms, and by 1998, the Hilton Sandestin was completing a $45-million expansion and renovation project, which added a new tower with two hundred additional guest suites, a new pool deck, 60,000 square feet of commercial space expansion, and more. The completed project positioned the Hilton Sandestin as the largest waterfront luxury hotel along Florida’s western Gulf Coast.

Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood also opened in 1998, ushering in a new era of exceptional fine dining in Northwest Florida. Since its opening, Seagar’s talented culinary team, led by Executive Chef Bruce McAdoo, has focused on local fresh and unique ingredients served with a variety of high-quality components to create signature dishes reflecting the resort’s coastal surroundings. Unique wines, a private dining room with a reserve wine list featuring more than eight hundred labels, and memorable tableside preparations add to the luxurious experience.

Serenity by the Sea, the spa at the Hilton Sandestin Beach, made its debut in 2001, offering one of the only destination spa experiences in the area. Serenity by the Sea pampers guests with uniquely personalized services, including manicures, pedicures, massages, body treatments, and hair care; and now it also provides the freshest spa offerings, such as the Fuji Ritual treatment and SpaWhite teeth whitening. Private men’s and women’s lounges provide steam room, sauna, and cascade whirlpool, as well as refreshments, private dressing rooms, and vanities.

By 2005, management initiated a new hotel improvement project, including a major accommodations overhaul in the Emerald Tower, the expansion of the outdoor pool area, and the addition of Barefoots Beachside Bar & Grill.

“Over the past three years we have been working on the renovation of the Emerald Tower,” explains Kamm. “We finished the renovation this spring, just in time for our special anniversary year.”

Mel & Mona Ponder at the anniversary celebration vie magazine hilton sandestin beach golf resort
Mel & Mona Ponder at the anniversary celebration


To kick off its anniversary year in style, the Hilton Sandestin Beach completed its $3.4-million, three-year renovation project in March. Upgrades include a complete renovation of suites in the Emerald Tower, which houses four hundred of the hotel’s six hundred guest suites. Design features in the new Deluxe Junior Suites include elegant new furnishings, a soothing blue and green color palette, a state-of-the-art media center addition in the children’s bunk area, flat-screen televisions, a second phone line in each room, premium quality bed linens, and patio upgrades.

Also in time for the anniversary celebration, the Hilton Sandestin Beach has officially gone green. After a dedicated effort throughout the entire property, the resort hotel has incorporated environmentally friendly initiatives, earning the Florida Green Lodging Program designation for its implementation of green practices, such as its recycling program, water conservation, and energy reduction.

“Our twenty-fifth year along the Gulf Coast truly has been a special time,” says Mike Chouri, general manager of the Hilton Sandestin Beach. “In addition to our year-long anniversary celebration, our guests helped us earn the guest loyalty award from Hilton Hotels.”

The Hilton Sandestin Beach competed against forty-six other Hilton properties for the 2008 Diamond Guest Loyalty Award for hotels with five hundred or more rooms, which recognizes the best of the best within the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand in North America. Through the brand’s annual Connie Awards, this is the highest honor in this category. The award is based on customer feedback regarding overall experience, the likelihood to return to the resort hotel, and the likelihood to recommend the property to others. Guests rated the Hilton Sandestin Beach a nine or ten out of ten in these categories.

Loretta Shaffer and Dawn Moliterno at the anniversary celebration vie magazine hilton sandestin
Loretta Shaffer and Dawn Moliterno at the anniversary celebration

“This amazing year has been twenty-five years in the making, and we’re not finished yet,” says Chouri. “We’re moving forward with even more improvements that will continue to enhance the guest experience, and we hope our loyal guests, as well as those who have never experienced the Hilton Sandestin, will join us during this milestone year.”


An anniversary as momentous as twenty-five years deserves a celebration, and a big one at that. To toast the resort’s anniversary with partners in the Destin and Beaches of South Walton area, the Hilton Sandestin Beach hosted a festive cocktail event overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico in June. Bringing together area tourism leaders and resort staff as well as media, the festivities included delicious food, a live jazz trio, and a warm welcome from the Hilton Sandestin’s management team, including Robert Kamm, Mike Chouri, and Marshall Thompson.

The warm Gulf breezes and setting summer sun offered the perfect backdrop for toasting what has proven to be a remarkable year for the resort, and all in attendance were reminded that truly special things happen at the beach—especially at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa.

— V —

The Hilton Sandestin Beach will be offering special rates and meeting incentives throughout the year in honor of its silver anniversary. For more information, become a fan on Facebook, follow the hotel on Twitter, call (850) 267-9500 or (800) 367-1271, or visit www.HiltonSandestinBeach.com.

Christy Kearney is a freelance writer and co-owner of Creative WITS. She lives in Fort Walton Beach with her husband, Travis, and very spoiled Cairn Terrier, Gidget.

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail