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The Henderson’s Artful Opening in Destin

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Artist Melissa Brown creates another masterpiece.

Photography by Jeff Waldorff.

By Zandra Wolfgram


The Henderson, a Salamander Beach Resort & Spa, opened its doors on November 17 as the finest luxury resort hotel built on the Gulf Coast in a generation.


Every aspect of the five-story 170-room beauty has been meticulously planned, and the art that is displayed throughout the property is no different. After a long and rigorous selection process, 13 local artists were chosen to create pieces specifically for the Henderson.


Each piece has been thoughtfully placed in the hotel to add both beauty and ambiance. The result is a stunning coastal hotel with an inspired sense of place.


Center stage as you enter the Living Room lobby is a stunning handcrafted wooden table by artisan Donnie Galli, who also hand crafted the retail display counter in the gift shop. The lobby also features sunny landscape scenes of beach dunes created by 2016 South Walton Artist of the Year Melody Bogle. Bogle’s illuminating pastel landscape pieces will also be displayed on the walls in the bar.


Walking down the corridor of the dedicated meetings wing, guests can take a journey through Destin’s past. More than two dozen moment-in-time black and white photos from Tony Mennillo’s studio line the walls, providing a peek into Destin’s storied past. Large nature-inspired landscape oil paintings by Barbara Flowers, Joanne Walker and Melissa Mercer Brown grace the boardrooms and ballrooms.


When guests visit the Primrose restaurant, they are greeted by a cheery collage of sunny, luscious acrylic painting by Justin Gaffrey. And inside the restaurant are still more large works of beautiful primrose flowers scaling the walls. Gaffrey’s iconic work akin to rich, frosted layers on a delicious cake will also be present in the private dining room for guests to admire.


With his bright and playful style, John Maher’s artwork is perfectly placed near Poppy’s, the children’s recreation area, and the fitness center. No doubt, the spa is a desired destination for relaxation and peace so it was important to place pieces here that contribute to a calming environment.


Sparkling, iridescent sea-inspired glass mosaic pieces created by master glass painter Mary Hong will transport guests to the cooling Emerald waters, while the vibrant and bold large-paneled pieces by Veila Lala, placed on curved walls, will illuminate the way to the end of the hall.


Stunning images of local landscapes, flora and fauna captured by nature photographer Jeff Waldorff are displayed in the spa as well as within each guest bathroom throughout the hotel.


Standing center stage in the heart of the spa is a stunning six-foot tall glass sculpture of a coastal wave hand blown by glass artist Russ Gilbert of Fusion Glass Art. Guests will also discover Gilbert’s nature-inspired blown glass pieces shaped into fragile frays of sea oats and mounted majestically behind the front desk, as well as schools of blue fish swimming along the wall in the main dining room.


These custom pieces crafted by the creative hands of some of the Emerald Coast’s most talented artists will bring beauty and inspiration for many years to come. With beautiful artwork gracing the walls, the Henderson has further defined its unique sense of place as a warm and welcoming home away from home.

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