The Henderson Opens in Destin, Fla.

DESTIN, Fla.—The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, today opened its coastal-inspired doors.

Located along one of America’s top beaches and adjacent to a 208-acre environmentally protected state park, The Henderson is reminiscent of a grand seaside manor of yesteryear.

The resort features 170 spacious guestrooms and suites, a nature-inspired spa, Gulf-to-table cuisine, an octagonal bar with panoramic Gulf views, a rooftop terrace, two outdoor swimming pools, 30,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, and private beach access.


The property is owned by Memphis-based Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., and is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila C. Johnson.

“After a decade of development and meticulous planning, our family is thrilled and humbled that opening day is finally here,” said Bill Dunavant III, president and CEO of Dunavant Enterprises, Inc. “An incredible amount of work has been invested into this project, and there are many, many people to thank in making it happen. It has always been our vision to offer a level of luxury previously unavailable between New Orleans and Sarasota while also providing a destination resort of which the entire region can be proud. Today, I can confidently state that we have delivered.”

The Henderson is the anchor resort hotel of still-developing Henderson Beach Resort: future phases of which include condominiums and villa-style resort accommodations. The existing beachfront Henderson Park Inn, also owned by Dunavant Enterprises and one of the most acclaimed small hotels in the country, continues to service guests.

From the moment guests arrive at The Henderson, they are embraced by a residential and old-world charm that is contemplative of the surrounding, unspoiled beauty of the area. There is no lobby but an expansive Living Room with high ceilings and a wall of windows that faces a maritime forest and the beach.

The interior feels like it has been part of the coast’s landscape for over 100 years and showcases wooden floors and reclaimed beams and trusses. Specifically designed to connect guests to the environment, the resort is infused with several, intimate gathering areas and commissioned artwork created by local and regional artists.

The guest rooms and suites include stylish furnishings, yet remain authentic to the local, cultural surroundings. Larger than typical luxury resort guestrooms, they include custom furnishings, luxurious bedding, elegant bathrooms featuring louvered shutters, and gracious balconies or terraces.

Drawing on the inspirational venue with treatments that incorporate the natural surroundings, The Henderson’s Salamander Spa features 11 spacious treatment rooms and numerous amenities, including a ladies steam room, sauna and whirlpool which overlooks the treetops of the secluded park. Treatments are derived from the Gulf’s crystal waters, untouched dunes and indigenous plants. In addition, there are also specially constructed spa guest rooms, furnished and equipped with sounds and smells of the region, and a variety of spa amenities.

For those wanting a more active setting, The Henderson also offers a sun-lit fitness room and a variety of other water experiences, including a family-oriented pool with a lazy river and an adult zone and pool. There are numerous family activities, including a dedicated Kid’s Club called Poppy’s. Guests can easily stroll or bike to the beach, the adjacent state park and
into the surrounding community of Crystal Beach. They can also use the wide, pristine beach as a base for sailing, snorkeling and volleyball.

The Henderson also features nearly 30,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor function space, including several beachfront locations and a Grand Lawn. In its dedicated and flexible event wing, the resort offers the soaring 5,221-square-foot Crystal Ballroom, as well as a junior ballroom. On the fifth floor, the Sunset Vista Terrace provides stunning views of the beach and the state park’s foliage.

The Henderson broke ground in January 2014, and the multi-million dollar project has created hundreds of jobs. An economic impact study estimated the development of the resort hotel would create a total of 1,184 direct and indirect jobs. This includes 649 construction jobs and 261 staff positions at The Henderson.

“It has been a pleasure getting to know the Dunavant family and team over the past few years,” said Salamander Founder and CEO Sheila C. Johnson. “Their attention to detail and vision is incredible, and it is a great honor for Salamander to have the opportunity to create a hospitality environment befitting of the resort’s stunning setting.”

The Henderson is less than ten minutes from Destin Harbor, where the resort’s guests can enjoy numerous water activities, shop in a festive marketplace, and interact with the fleet of fishing vessel captains and crews that pioneered the area. The many popular communities along Highway 30A, including Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, are also just a short drive away.

The Henderson’s design architect is Cooper Carry of Atlanta, and interior design was provided by Karen Kent of Kent Interior Design in Atlanta. The general contractor, DPR Hardin, is also based in Atlanta and is one of the country’s leading hotel builders, while project management was provided by Shannon Howell of Destin-based Devcon Services Group.