A Definite Caste System A review of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

My husband and I decided to squeeze a July 4th weekend vacation before our big vacation in November. I have been to Destin years before and remembered how beautiful the water was. We decided to stay at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. We have never stayed there before.

It is important for you to know as a set up to this story that my husband and I are both busy attorneys in our thirties. Sometimes we may look younger than our age especially in relaxed beach wear. This is the only reason why I think we were treated the way we were at this resort. Maybe the employees thought we were typical Spring Breakers. I have no idea. Our story started like this:

It was a long trip from New Orleans. When we arrived, it was nearly midnight on Friday, and we were completely exhausted from our drive. We had reservations on the resort side of the resort. However, we erroneously checked in at the beach side of the resort which was an apparent no-no. We were greeted by an aggravated young woman employed at the check in counter who apparently did not like us on her side of the resort. She reluctantly checked us in and directed us to the other side of the resort. We drove our car to the Bayside Inn where we held our reservations. We obtained our key from the check in counter at the Bayside Inn and proceeded to our room. When we got into our room, it was not what we requested. Instead of a king size bed, we received two double beds with a view of the parking lot from the second floor. We did not unpack. My husband went to the check in counter at the Bayside Inn to request a different room. We luckily received two warm and helpful women at the counter working the night shift at the Bayside Inn. I wish I could recall their names because they were the only godsend we received on this trip. We joked with them about what happened with check in at the beach side of the resort. They were astonished and gave us a key to a room that they said we would be very happy with. We thanked them profusely, went to our room, and found that they gave us a wonderful view of the bay as well as our king size bed.

The following morning, we decided to go to the beach. The beach was not walking distance and we took a tram provided by the resort. The resort did have a good and convenient tram system although there were many stops. When we arrived at the beach, there were literally rows of beach chairs and umbrellas. You could barely see the beach. We went to the chair rental area to rent a chair. The teenage girl, although pleasant, did not completely inform us that we were renting different chairs, not the chairs that we saw on the beach. We automatically assumed that we were renting chairs that were on the beach due to the expensive rental price. Instead, a young man approached us with the chair and asked where we want it and he'll put it there. Once again, we thought he was going to lead us to our chair already located on the beach. We told him just to forget it and we'll just get a refund. So the young man took the chair back. We went back to the rental area and spoke to the teenage girl for a refund. She offered the chair rental for free due to the miscommunication. We said fine. We approached the young man again for the chair and my husband told him he could carry it himself. The young man said okay and we walked to find a spot as my husbsand carried the chair. About two minutes later, another employee of the resort chased us down, stopped us and asked where we got the chair. He also asked us to produce the receipt which we did. He reviewed the receipt. He told us that he stopped us because we were walking fast and looked like we took the chair without paying as it sometimes happens at the resort. I was thoroughly offended. After being "released", we finally found about an inch of space to put the chair. After we settled in, unpacked our towels, and went for a swim, we were harassed yet again. Two young male employees (1 Sandestin Hilton and 1 Sandestin Golf) approached us and told us that we have encroached on the Hilton side of the resort and we had to move. They said that we had the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Chair and not a Hilton chair so we had to move. Of course, the vacationers with their own beach chairs that were in the same area and were staying at our resort remained where they were because you could not tell from looking at them where they were staying. So we ended up packing our stuff, wet sand and all, with the rental chair that we didn't want, carried it to a new more crowded millimeter of a space on the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort side. Hint: bring your own chair.

When the beach was crowded, you could not even see the beach if you were in the third row of beach chairs. You could not even see the beach in the first row because people pile their own beach chairs in front of the expensive rental chairs. It was so crowded that the beach chairs and the people on them, were practically on top of each other. Moreover, the beach became dirty with litter which was not cleaned fast enough, if at all.

We ended up getting away from the crowded beach while still enjoying the water. We ditched the chair, rented a kayak, and sunned ourselves in the middle of the ocean. Several others did that and we all looked at each other and smiled like we found the secret to success.

For those who enjoy the water, I did not see any lifeguards. But the resort definitely had employees policing chairs.

On the evening of 4th of July, we decided to eat at the beach restaurant called "Fins", I believe. We wanted to eat there and enjoy the fireworks display which was scheduled two hours later. We went to the hostess and requested an outside table. She was young, of course. She asked us if we were sure that we wanted a table outside and tried to get us to agree to dine inside. We told her outside again. She told us that it would be unlikely that we would get a table outside or it would be a very long wait. We told her we would wait because the fireworks display was not scheduled for another two hours. So we waited about 30 seconds and a table cleared up. I told my husband to let the hostess know. She impatiently said to him, "Sir, that table is for people who were here way before you were!" My huband apologized and said he did not realize that (as only one other couple who came after us was also waiting for a table). Even though he apologized, and we reasoned that there were probably people at the bar waiting for a table, we were still shocked at how this young girl raised her voice at my husband. My husband asked me if I wanted to walk to the deck to look at the beach while we waited. I told him yes and we proceeded to the deck of the restaurant when suddenly, the young hostess yelled out, "Uh, sir, where are you going?" My husband explained that we were headed to the deck. She said we could not go there. So we returned. The other couple who was waiting with us started to joke with us that this was like a police zone. Anyway, before my husband went to get a beer from the bar, he asked the hostess' permission first so no other public displays of humiliation would occur. Oh, and remember that supposed long wait or we would never get a table? We were seated in five minutes. Even though we had a rough start to the evening, we had a wonderful dinner. The waiter was extremely nice. I had scallops with the cheese grits (which was excellent), a terrific dessert, and a beautiful fireworks display.

One good point is that the resort was well manicured with nice landscaping. We did take a pleasant bike ride around the resort on Saturday.

Be aware that the resort dining is also very expensive. Don't be surprised to find a $15 chicken sandwich on a menu. We found that despite its price, the food was pretty good at the Village. But I could probably eat at Commander's Palace or one of the Brennan's places for cheaper here in New Orleans, with better food and service. We also had breakfast at the Bayside Cafe every morning which came with the room. The staff at the Bayside Cafe were very hospitable. There was one strange incident at the Bayside Cafe when an elderly woman fell out of her chair and soiled herself on the floor. The staff helped her out very nicely. We later heard from one of the tram drivers that the elderly woman actually resided at the resort, routinely became drunk, and would fall or pass out often. I thought that was particularly depressing.

My husband and I are in our thirties. We probably look young for our age which gave the young staff implied authority to disrespect us. We have very stressful lives and did not like how our intended relaxed weekend break ended up to be more stressful than relaxing. I hope our next vacation in November is much better. We will most likely not return to the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

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Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
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