Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village in Destin, Florida…
|Price: $$ – $$$$
For: Families, reunions, couples
Spacious, has full kitchen, outdoor pool overlooking gulf, private access to beach on Norriego Point, free shuttle to/from airport, will hold luggage, most activities on-site or in walking distance
Official Links: Website, Facebook
On a sunny day, Destin, Florida is beautiful with its sparkling water and white, sandy beaches. Staying at the Emerald Grande added a whole other dimension to my enjoying the area. It felt like 24/7 luxury with total relaxation.
The Emerald Grande is a towering resort full of up-scale rentals and condos. It sits right along Harborwalk Village, placing you just footsteps away from dining, shopping, and water fun. If you call 48 hours ahead of time, a free shuttle can be arranged to pick you up or drop you off at the local airports. I would highly recommend this as we had some SERIOUS taxi issues while in Destin…but that’s another story to come.
The lobby is breathtaking and will likely be the best place to meet other people in your party. From here or the Grande Vista level (GV) you will be able to move between the east and west towers. Check-in was quick and easy. It was also very convenient that the Emerald Grande held my luggage after I checked out, allowing me to explore the area a bit more. I found the service to be exceptional with a friendly staff. However, there were a select few in my group that experienced quite the opposite.
The prices are a bit high but this is nothing like a cheap economy motel you might find elsewhere. This is a great destination for one or more families as even the (smallest) one bedroom condo sleeps six people. There’s a full kitchen stocked with dishes and utensils and a combination living room/dining area. Everything felt roomy and the temperature stayed comfortable. With four bloggers, in the condo, it was so nice that there were power outlets EVERYWHERE, including in front of and behind the bar.
The huge master bedroom featured a king bed and its own television. The sliding door opened to private balcony and there was plenty of room to store luggage, including a mirrored closet (not pictured). With open suitcases and toiletries strewn about, there’s still enough room to get around and not feel cluttered.
Lighting in the master bath was great and the double sink really came in handy. Unfortunately, due to the design, the shower leaked quite a bit. So, make sure tokeep a towel handy to dry the floor after washing. There was also a notable amount of rust near the bottom door hinge. For some reason, no hair dryer was in our room and we had to call down twice before one was brought up.
The second bedroom had a queen-sized bed and was much more compact. A small closet was in one corner and a door to the other balcony was in the another. This room did feel much less private. It had a doorway facing the hallway and another door connected to the common bathroom, making it a bit hard to stay undisturbed.
I was so happy that there was an additional room. With my snoring, I was so self-conscious that I would disturb the other women in my condo since we were originally assigned to share a room/bed. This extra area gave me my own little space to recharge after three full days of activity. There was even a small flat screen television, a nightstand, and a mirror. Well, the mirror was kind of useless since it was stuck in a dark corner. I put my big suitcase on the upper bunk and had plenty of space to get ready or to unwind with time to myself.
To up the convenience factor, a washing machine and dryer were at our disposal. This was great for those bathings suits full of salt water or to get out unwanted wrinkles.
The view, of course, scored the resort major points. I loved sitting on the balcony and doing my work, seeing the gorgeous scenery everytime I looked up. The pool, by the way, was heated and was shallow enough for young children. Waiters are also on hand to bring you any drinks you might have a taste for. Emerald Grande guests can check out towels at no charge and have access to this, the indoor pool, and the spa.
If you really need to get out, call the front desk to arrange a ride to Norriego Point. The stretch of sand you see in the photo above has an area just for Emerald Grande guests with beach chairs, umbrellas, and basic refreshments. The sand is so fine and soft!
Stays here are on the expensive side but well worth it. Some items did seem a bit dated and worn but that was trivial. The only real complaint I had was that the place was so stinking confusing. All 20+ in our party got lost, repeatedly, with way too many doors and elevators but hardly any signs. Even our main contact told us that if we got all turned around, default to the Grande Vista level. With my nonexistent sense of direction, this got somewhat unnerving and terribly frustrating. It was a good thing that we ended up getting to our destinations each time, even if a bit flustered and tardy.
The Emerald Grande really is an amazing place to stay and a vacation retreat that you won’t regret.
My stay was deeply discounted and activities were arranged at no charge for Brandcation attendees. All opinions are 100% my own.