by Michael C. Lowe | August 01, 2014

Local Update

The 602-room Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa completed a four-month, $12.5 million renovation in March. The project included upgrades to the hotel's lobby, public space, Spa Tower guest rooms, spa and more. Features at the resort include six dining venues and more than 32,000 square feet of meeting space.

In June, the Emerald Coast Convention Center unveiled a new 30,000-square-foot outdoor event space called Bayview Plaza, which can be tented in case of rain.

Meeting Hotels: For a full list of Northern Florida properties, and to find and compare hotels and send RFPs, visit

Convention Centers: Baytowne Conference Center (Sandestin); exhibit space, approximately 23,350 square feet; number of meeting rooms, eight; (800) 277-0803

Emerald Coast Convention Center (Fort Walton Beach); exhibit space, 35,000 square feet indoors and 30,000 square feet outdoors; number of meeting rooms, 12; (850) 609-3800

Airport Transit: Northwest Florida Regional Airport, 19 miles from Destin, 10 miles from Fort Walton Beach. Transfer cost by taxi to Destin, about $45, and about $30 to Fort Walton Beach

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, 33 miles from South Walton. Transfer cost by taxi, about $80

Taxes: South Walton and Sandestin: county bed tax, 4.5%; sales tax, 7.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

Okaloosa County: bed tax, 5%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11%

Group Venue: Henderson State Park offers a 6,000-foot-long stretch of white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Four beachside pavilions are available for rental and can accommodate up to 150 guests each. (850) 269-1062

Contact: Visit South Walton, (800) 822-6877

Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, (850) 651-7131