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A Brief History of Our Destin Beach Hotel

Guests have been flocking to Henderson Park Inn for years, and we often get questions about the past of our Destin beach hotel. While we have plenty of staff members that have been here for years, there are all sorts of perspectives and anecdotes involving the inn.

But, after sitting down with the owners and general manager, we’ve compiled the full story of our quaint Destin beach hotel.

A Look Back at the History of Our Destin Beach Hotel

In 1992, long-time Destin residents, Bill and Steve Abbott built the main building of Henderson Park Inn to resemble their uncle’s inn in Maine, The Sparhawk Hotel. The brothers had worked for years at the New-England style inn and wanted to bring a piece of it to Destin. In 1997, they expanded the property, adding the east building.

The original inn featured a beachside pool where our tiki bar and back deck currently stand, and from that pool, you could walk directly onto the beach without the use of stairs. There was a tiki bar there, too, but it was a bit smaller than the one our guests know and love today.

Then, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck, damaging the inn and leaving the property closed.

This storm pulled enough sand out to collapse the pool. In fact, there are still pieces of the original pool under the inn and its back deck. But, this storm, in addition to the many hurricanes that our Destin beach hotel has weathered over the years, is responsible for creating much of what the beachscape of the inn looks like today and provided a way for the beachside firepits and cantina.

Billy Dunavant of Dunavant Enterprises, the world’s largest cotton merchant, saw the closed property as a grand opportunity and purchased the Destin beach hotel with plans to construct a stunning new beach resort in its place. This resort was envisioned and brought to his attention by his real estate vice president, Bill Hagerman, and the two worked on plans for what would one day become Henderson Beach Resort.

That plan was halted when they decided to open the inn to evacuees of Hurricane Katrina instead. Working with Destin city officials and The Village Baptist Church, the inn became a transitional home for over a year to those who had lost everything in the storm. Community members brought daily meals and other necessary items for those residing at the Destin beach hotel.

This eventually led to the re-opening of Henderson Park Inn as you know it, and this charitable start provided the basis for the exceptional hospitality and sanctuary-like atmosphere our guests have come to love about the inn. And, while we’ve hosted guests from governors and heads of state to professional athletes and country music stars, we pledge to treat each and every guest like a member of our own family.

We still have guests often worried that we’re going to tear down the inn or totally change the experience, but there are currently no plans for that. Now, we do shut down for two weeks in January to do light renovations and update the property, but we focus on maintaining the inn’s historic coastal charm, while working to ensure we’re providing guests with the modern luxuries of other hotels.

If you’re ready to spend some time at our historic Destin beach hotel, check out our beautiful hotel rooms and secure your room now before rates go up.