Beach Bonding in Destin

The TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Resort, a stunning vacation resort in Destin, features a spa and one of the top-rated tennis facilities in the world.

We were prepared to go the distance to get a little closer. So three girlfriends and I packed up the SUV and headed to the northwest corner of the state for some much-needed girl time on the sublime Emerald Coast.

One look at the sugar-white sand and sparkling green water and we felt worlds away from the daily grind. We kicked off our shoes and started our girls' weekend with a champagne toast to great friends and great times.

Castle in the Sand

We settled into our roomy suite at TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Resort, which we picked because of its stunning beachfront, first-class tennis facilities and huge balconies facing the Gulf of Mexico (perfect for watching sunsets). TOPS'L, one of several ResortQuest vacation properties in northwest Florida, rests on 52 acres just east of Destin and is bordered by a pristine nature preserve.

From courtside accommodations to Mediterranean-style homes, TOPS'L features six luxury properties sure to float your boat. Known for its world-renowned tennis facilities, the resort also offers fine dining, massages, fitness classes, and a clubhouse with heated pools and a sauna. In a word, paradise.

My three girlfriends and I were staying in The Tides building, a 15-story tower with a Caribbean ambiance. We ooh-ed and aah-ed as we explored our three-bedroom, three-bath condominium rental and discovered the spacious living room with plush sofas and the 475-square-foot balcony overlooking the water.

I quickly picked the master bedroom suite, which featured a walk-in shower, whirlpool bathtub and king-size bed. The others were left to fight for the remaining beds.

With a fully equipped kitchen, including a blender for tropical drinks, we filled our refrigerator with goodies. Something told us we'd work up an appetite from all the tennis we planned to play.

Making a Racquet

Eager to whip our game into shape, we booked a tennis lesson with one of the three full-time instructors at the resort, ranked number 10 worldwide by Tennis Resorts Online in 2010.

Our instructor, Sam, had a cart full of tennis balls ready for us when we walked onto one of the resort's 12 clay courts. Even though the first few balls popped up high and flew into nearby bushes, Sam remained patient with us during our hour-long session. The four of us encouraged each other but couldn't help laughing at the scene, strewn with tennis balls.

Besides group lessons, the resort also offers individual private lessons, clinics and social events for tennis players of all levels. And for those who don't want to be too far away from the courts, you can spend your vacation in villas that surround the tennis facilities. We, however, wouldn't trade our suite for the world.

We headed back to the room after working up a morning sweat, eager to prepare ourselves for a day of relaxation, shopping and dining.

Kicking Back & Catching Up

Sore muscles appreciate massages, so we couldn't resist the exquisite treatments offered at the resort's clubhouse. In a candlelit room, Elizabeth and I received a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massages from our therapist, Gary, who kneaded away our stresses. Next door to us, another therapist rejuvenated Lily and Jen through a technique that rebalances the body's energy. We later caught up on celebrity gossip in a steam room scented with eucalyptus, then switched out of our bathing suits for a late lunch.

With so many dining options available it took us a while to settle on the restaurant Cheeseburger in Paradise, which is centrally located to the Silver Sands Factory Stores, just minutes from the resort. There'd be plenty of time to check out the resort's eateries, and we were in the mood to go exploring.

After a lunch of tasty burgers and Cuban sandwiches, we spent hours checking out the more than 100 designer stores at Silver Sands, the nation's largest designer outlet center. We got pedicures before spending our evening at the nearby Village of Baytowne Wharf, home to chic boutiques, award-winning restaurants and energetic nightlife.

When we returned to our suite, we sat on the balcony to recount the day as we listened to the waves roll ashore. We drank white wine and made plans for the next day, which would be all about the beach. I had a feeling our TOPS'L girls' getaway was destined to become a tradition.

For more information on planning your own beach getaway to TOPS'L Beach & Racquet Resort or any other ResortQuest properties in Northwest Florida, call 866-451-1006 or visit

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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