The Henderson, a new $300 million, 170-room resort with sweeping views of Destin’s famed sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters, officially opened its doors this week.

A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, The Henderson is located along U.S Highway 98 adjacent to Henderson Beach, a 208-acre environmentally-protected state park.

In addition to the resort’s 170 spacious guest rooms and suites, The Henderson also features a nature-inspired spa, rooftop terrace, two outdoor swimming pools, 30,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, and private beach access.

The resort’s restaurant, Primrose, is named for Destin’s first commercial fishing boat and features Gulf-to-table cuisine. The restaurant’s open-kitchen design also features a sushi bar along with extensive outdoor terrace seating. With a striking octagonal-shaped design, Horizons Bar presents signature cocktails and panoramic views of the Gulf and Henderson Beach State Park. Sea Level, the poolside grill, offers chilled drinks and casual fare, while the old-fashioned ice cream shop, Sprinkles, serves up frozen delicacies and children’s candy favorites.

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. “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 from the beach. (The Henderson/Special to The Pulse)

The Henderson from the beach. (The Henderson/Special to The Pulse)

The resort’s guest rooms and suites are larger than typical luxury resort accommodations, officials said, and 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 a variety of spa amenities.

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 also use the wide, pristine beach as a base for activities like sailing, snorkeling and volleyball.

The resort 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.

Officials said the project has created a total of over 1,200 direct and indirect jobs since construction broke ground in January 2014. The resort employed a staff of around 300 on opening day.

“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.”

Leisure rates for guest rooms range from $225 to $450 and from $595 to $1,250 for suites. Special packages and opening offers are available. For more information on The Henderson, visit or call 844-395-4953.


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