My family arrived at the Emerald Grande after receiving recommendations from friends who were impressed by the accommodations, amenities, and "private" beach. Throughout our week-long stay we found both pros and cons to staying at the Emerald Grande.
The 3-bed, 3-bath apartment was spacious and very attractive. It included high-end finishes such as granite countertops, stainless appliances, and crown molding that are not typical of many beach condos I've rented. The daily maid service was ok (they spread up the bed, emptied the trash, and left soaps) but still appreciated. Those staying in bedrooms with windows experienced some significant road & weekly concert noise which occasionally made sleeping difficult. I appreciated the in-unit washer & dryer. Also, parking is some of the tightest I've ever seen (and I live in a large city known for limited parking!) so be careful about dinged doors.
One should note that this complex is located on the bay/marina near a busy bridge and not within walking distance to the ocean. Consequently, the "private" beach that our friend mentioned is a bay inlet which felt more like an overcrowded swimming pool than the seashore. While this might be appealing to families with small kids, the lack of waves and an inability to take long beach walks was disappointing for us. The ferry transportation to this "beach" is provided between 9am and 6pm, but arriving and departing frequently involved a 30+ minute wait (not so fantastic when everyone is trying to leave because of an approaching storm!). Chairs, umbrellas, and beach towels are provided but be mindful that the only bathroom facilities were on the ferry boat.
Emerald has both outdoor and indoor pools. The indoor pool was very small and seemed like an oversized jacuzzi in a muggy atmosphere . . . not so appealing. The outdoor pool space was more substantial and interesting and contained lounge chairs, umbrellas, and dining-style tables. However, this space (like the beach zone) felt overly small for the number of guest rooms at the facility. Towels for this area are complementary which was nice.
Having been disappointed by Emerald's beach and pool areas, we spent the majority of our vacation visiting the lovely public beaches, including Beasley Park, that were a five minute drive across the bridge. These facilities offered food, beverages, restrooms, covered tables, and rent-able chairs & umbrellas. Most importantly for us, the park was on a long stretch of uncrowded, enjoy-the-waves beach that felt lacking at Emerald.
During our stay, we checked out most of the amenities offered by the complex. Several family members scheduled spa treatments and were very impressed with the massages and pedicures they received ("one of the best massages I've had in a long time!"). The fitness and steam rooms are available to all guests of Emerald Grande, but the sauna is only accessible on the day you schedule a spa treatment. That said, the sauna is super-tiny and probably wouldn't be a huge disappointment to miss. The ladies locker and relaxation rooms had lovely views of the harbor and several nice lounge chairs.
Harbor Walk (the business and retail area around Emerald Grande) includes several restaurants and carnival-like activities (e.g. caricature sketches, bungee trampolines). This seemed to draw crowds to the area but ultimately did not appeal to our family with ages ranging from 24 to 58. You will be located near grocery stores, Target, Walmart, and movie theaters, but be mindful that traffic can be pretty thick during the evenings.
Ultimately, my family will not be returning to the Emerald Grande. For us, a walk-to-the-beach location is more important that high-end finishes. We simply prefer to arrive at the beach and enjoy the location without feeling compelled to spend a lot of money on cruise ship-style excursions and activities. I can imagine that some folks would be drawn to Emerald and its offerings; it just wasn't a good match for us.
- Also Known As:
- Emerald Grande Harbor Walk Village Hotel Destin
- Emerald Grande Harbor Walk Village Hotel
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