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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

What’s new in the Beaches of South Walton

Courtesy WaterColor Inn and Resort

• Club Tiki, an open-air tiki bar, has opened at Tops’l Beach and Racquet Resort. Next to the resort’s pool and meeting space, it is cool place to shoot the breeze on comfy clusters of couches and chairs beneath twirling fans and a thatched roof.

• Starting this fall and wrapping up in March, the Hilton Sandestin Golf Beach Resort and Spa will continue with improvements it has been making over the past few years. These are big changes, so big, in fact, that work crews will move into the hotel so they can get the job done faster, even as anothre wing of the hotel stays open for business.  Among the changes will be reworkings of the lobby and the lobby area bar. When guests enter the new lobby, their view will be the sea. The bar will be made much larger by bumping out a wall and taking over some patio space. The added room will be needed to handle fans who will pour in on game days to watch the 180-inch-screen television (that’s 15 feet) to be installed there. The Spa Tower’s 200 guest rooms will also be renovated.

• The 167-room Courtyard Sandestin at Grand Boulevard has refreshed its boardrooms. Located within walking distance of shopping and restaurants, the hotel has 2,000 square feet of meeting space and is in demand from corporate, military and association groups.

• Seascape Golf, Beach and Tennis Resort plans to build a new meeting facility and a new hotel. The new hotel will be on land now occupied by its golf course so the course will be reconfigured.

• WaterColor Inn and Resort’s new meeting space, the Lake House, opened in September. The 3,700-square-foot space is next to Western Lake and one of the resort’s pools. It is near the rustic Boathouse on Western Lake, which is used for casual after-hours events. At other times, it is headquarters for the resort’s water activities.

• The next big thing in team building — stand up paddleboarding (SUP) — has a major presence in South Walton. YOLO (You Only Live Once), a maker of stand-up paddleboards and accessories, was founded there seven years ago. Company co-founder Jeff Archer says SUP is “spreading like wildfire. It will be like ropes courses were. You can do it anywhere there is water.”

South Walton’s back bays and dune lakes are good places to learn and both WaterColor and Sandestin have YOLO outposts, where guests can give paddling a go. Low impact and surprisingly easy, SUP is a safe sport for young and old, Archer says. “I have taught people to do it in three minutes,” he said. “Seniors are pouring into it.”