LOST WAGES! (an ode to many trips to vegas)
I Had the privilege of hosting the FINAL Bachelorette gathering for my lovely tribe. All the bride wanted was a beachy-nautical experience. Since the wedding party lives on all four corners of the States, the best kept secret (and growing in popularity) was to visit the Destin Beach Florida area. Santa Rosa Beach is located on Florida's “Emerald Coast” which is known for its white sandy beaches and emerald green waters. Originating as a small fishing village, it is now growing to be a high-end destination for family vacationing. I cant tell you how many times I have dropped off and picked up passengers at this destination and only got to enjoy a quick bite or two. It was OUR turn to be wined and dined in the gulf-coast sun!
I lucked out with a close friend of mine moving to the Destin area so I picked her brain on minor details. Even though I only fly the rich and famous to this type of destination; I am all about financial savviness to make personal trips like this happen. Keeping the bride-tribe’s budget in mind, the best time to visit this sunny location is just outside of, what the locals call, “100 days of summer”. The busy summer season generally runs from the week before Memorial Day weekend up until August. Vacation rental rates are at their peak because of the large demand for family vacations and most excursions are booked weeks in advance. Booking just on the outskirts of these dates are the best bang for your buck! We chose the last weekend of April. The weather was warm enough to swim and yacht but the prices for everything were definitely lower than “mid summer” rates. Win-win!
This sandy beach retreat is slightly tricky to get to since its a coast that has 2 bridges to the mainland where the commercial airport is. If you aren't road tripping to this location, the flights that serve Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), are Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Silver Airways and United. You can see non-stop flight route here. You may luck out with a non-stop from your area, however a layover will most likely be in your future for this well-worth-it destination.
BUDGET TIP:When attempting to transport larger groups to excursions that are an hour drive or more from the airport, and if you wont need a rental vehicle, Lyft may be too expensive for that distance. Check rates with driving services! I learned with the passengers I fly, more times than not, driving services and airport shuttles will beat the price (per head) for Lyft and taxi's.
While most of my clients have vacation rentals here in the form of condo's or beach houses in the heart of Destin, we chose Santa Rosa Beach due to the pricing AND location! We were able to get a very spacious 4 bedroom, three story condo with a rooftop terrace, walking distance from food shops and the beach entrance for around $165/night. Thats a hotel rate! For a whole home!
PRO TIP: Check with the host about what beach items are available for use. We stayed at Seas The View and we had access to beach chairs, a wagon, coolers, toys, bikes and a few other really helpful tools. something you wouldn't get at a hotel.
You will not believe the creative and amazing outings I planned for this high-energy bunch! First Stop: Sip & Shop at Affinity Boutique!
CREATIVE TIP: I researched the area we were planning to stay and I cold-called a locally owned store, Affinity Boutique, and asked for the owner. I told her I had a splendid idea to drive sales her way if she would simply open an hour early and host a small group for a private viewing of her collection. Theresa was ESCTATIC to accommodate this to help her local sales. And it was F-R-E-E!
All I had to do for this was provide the drinks and catering.
Next up was another freebie. Beach Picnic! having all the girls pitch in and make lunches was a perfect reason to soak up some rays than to sit inside a restaurant at a beautiful destination like this.
The big bang: We chartered a yacht! This yacht owner and captain provided a 4 hour cruise for 8 people at only $60 per head more than renting a pontoon where you have to drive it yourself! This was the best part of the trip! When hosting a large group of people, take the risk and make some calls to something you "think" may not be affordable. When your'e visiting outside peak season, you may be surprised on the pricing! Check out my friends on the Nauti Pleasure Yacht Charter. You will thank me!
Planning food for large group trips can be a little overwhelming but a task I was happy to coordinate! Since this is a spot where I got creative with our outtings, I had to get creative with food:
HEALTH & BUDGET TIP: Plan breakfast, snacks and a picnic meal or two by ordering a head for Walmart Grocery Pick-Up. GAME CHANGER!!! You will spend way less on groceries than at restaurants, you will have access to healthier options (your waist line will thank you post travel) and you will also have a fun option to picnic during some of your excursions!
PRO TIP: HIRE A CATERER! Do some research in the area and find a locally owned company (or even some restaurants offer catering) and get pricing! Catering companies will usually fit YOUR budget if you communicate well enough. I hired Marrow Private Chefs in this area. I was able to get breakfast delivered to the Sip & Shop outing and lunch delivered to the Yacht outing. They even generously threw in tuxedo strawberries and offered free delivery if the place is 5 minutes away from them.
Everyone appreciates local food and drink when visiting a new location so we decided to watch the sunset at Fish Out of Water. Live music, perfect bartending skills and the food was worth the $$.
Our next stop for a little beachy night life was Luke Brians Shore Thing Cigar Bar! We didnt stay long but worth picking up some souvinir cigars for whomever Brunch our last day was patio-picture-perfect! RedFish Taco made the bloody marys strong and the fish tacos superb!