By Michelle Farnham
Feb. 4, 2021
SANDESTIN – After eight years of planning and three years of construction, the ribbon was cut and the doors opened to Sandestin’s newest luxury accommodations, Hotel Effie. Tom Becnel, chairman of Sandestin Investments and Sara Becnel, vice president of development for Sandestin, led the ceremonial opening in front of the 250-room hotel, then invited guests to the 10th floor Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge for a sunset soirée.
“I want to thank the hundreds of construction workers who toiled every day in the cold and the heat, in rain, and put in long, long hours,” Tom Becnel said. He thanked the team of professionals behind the scenes who made the project come together, and specifically thanked his daughter.
“Sara is probably the person most responsible for the success of this hotel,” Tom Becnel added. “She was involved from the beginning … and is the one person responsible for the interior finishes and the design, which make it special.”
“It was truly a family effort and it made it super special to be able to learn and work with my father,” Sara Becnel said before cutting the ribbon. “The building wouldn’t even be out of the ground if it weren’t from him.”
As the elevator doors opened into the evening’s festivities, guests were greeted with champagne, wine and cocktails from Ara. Passed hors d’oeuvres included oysters on the half shell, pickled mussels, poke salad and compressed watermelon with house ricotta.
Hotel Effie’s culinary offerings were led by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, the Georgia restaurateur, author and “Top Chef” judge and contestant.
Ara, which has both indoor and outdoor space as well as private cabanas, serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a black-eyed pea hummus, a super food plate, grilled tiger prawns, and to cool off, Steel City popsicles and milkshakes. The Sunset menu is offered from 5 to 10 p.m., to include shrimp cocktail, chicken wings and smoked mackerel toast.
At the lobby level is Ovide, an elegant restaurant marrying Gulf Coast flavors with classic French technique. Serving breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., diners can choose from light offerings like green tomato shakshuka, specialties such as the pecan-buttermilk pancakes, or the French omelet with Boursin cheese. Enjoy freshly squeezed juices, house kombucha, coconut water or a Mexican Coke, in additional to more tradition beverages.
Lunch at Ovide offers a tuna Niçoise salad, Kobe beef burger, raw oysters and kimchi creamed collards, to name a few. For dinner, sample the seafood tower, prime beef tartare or roasted red snapper. A kids’ menu includes the classics, ensuring younger diners are covered as well.
Also located on the ground floor is TLB: The Lobby Bar, serving craft cocktails and small plates from 3 to 11 p.m. daily. Sweetbay Coffee presents coffee drinks and tea from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Hotel Effie is Becnel’s second property within the resort, and he hinted at further development in the future. Other amenities include Spa Lilliana, a 13,000-square-foot ballroom, two smaller ballrooms, and 10 meeting rooms.
Hotel Effie, Ovide, Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge, and TLB are located at 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd., in Miramar Beach, and can be found online at www.hoteleffie.com.
Photos by Michelle Farnham