PortofinoLife in this issue
G ulf Islands Natio nal S eash o r e Pensa c olaâ€™s 450 th C el e b ratio n The Por tof ino Island Resor t De vel o p m ent Por tof ino A m enities
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IN THIS ISSUE 78
A Rejuvenating Home Away from Home
¡ VIVA PENSACOLA!
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Pensacola’s 450th Celebration
Rob Babcock Creates Cruise for the Cure and Lives Strong
The Portofino Island Resort Development
The Premier Advantage
Portofino Destination Weddings
Best of the Beach
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Pensacola's most complete waterfront complex featuring over two dozen restaurants, nightclubs and unique shops. Enjoy the calm, cozy beach along the bay at Portofino Boardwalk, the crown jewel of the Pensacola area with something for everyone! POrtofino Boardwalk...Come make some memories!
Located between Hemingway's and Alvin's Island on Pensacola Beach, Florida
Welcome f rom the General M a n ager
Welcome to Portofino Island Resort, where only nature goes unspoiled. We invite you to relax and rejuvenate while you explore the pristine natural backdrop of the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. After all, our natural surroundings are what brought you here: where else can you find more than ten miles of uninterrupted, sugar-white sand beaches and scenic coastal beauty? Inside the pages of our inaugural issue of Portofino Life, you’ll learn more about our island paradise and the many activities and amenities inspired by the surrounding seashore. Whether you decide to feel the thrill of active pursuits or simply bask under the warm Florida sun, we know you’ll soon discover that Portofino truly has it all—the perfect harmony of indulgence and natural beauty. As a premier resort destination, we are constantly improving our offerings and amenities. Our ultimate vacation experiences are designed to encourage you to fulfill lifelong dreams or your need for extreme fun. Fly high above our glistening white beaches during a tandem skydive or master the seas in a certified sailing course from an American Sailing Association-licensed instructor. Learn to surf the Gulf waves, paddleboard along the coast, or kayak the Sound. Just set your speed and go—the adventure is yours!
When ultimate pampering is in order, Portofino aims to impress. Indulge in an “aah-inspiring” spa treatment, such as a poolside cabana massage. Have our beach butler deliver your favorite cocktail without leaving the shade of your umbrella. Unwind in the comfort of your poolside chaise or an inflatable personal island with built-in cooler anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. The opportunities for relaxation are as abundant as the sugar-white sand on our beaches. Kids are king at Portofino as well. We’ve created the Adventure Cove Water Park, located on the calm waters of the Santa Rosa Sound, to keep kids bouncing, sliding, rocking, and rolling all day long. Our High Tides Kids Club and daily activities offer pint-size adventures, from crafting tie-dyed T-shirts and setting off on island scavenger hunts to limbo contests and dive-in movies. Or, experience thrills of a more authentic nature by learning a new sport or activity as a family. Take a surfing lesson, test your skills on the tennis court, or view the wildlife and flora indigenous to the island on an eco-tour. At Portofino, discovery leads to lasting memories. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this first edition of Portofino Life. Please take it as a vacation memento, or pass it along to others and help us tell the story of this amazing destination. Rob Babcock General Manager
spoil yourself naturally
Portofino A MENITIE S
Spoiled. Unspoiled. More than a catchy slogan, these seemingly contradictory words perfectly portray the broad appeal of Portofino Island Resort. On one hand, the location attracts those who will soak in the areaâ€™s natural, unspoiled beauty, along with various pleasures and adventures that the environment provides. On the other, the resort operates on a philosophy that guests are to be spoiled to the max according to their preferences.
Portofino’s presentation of amenities is highly personal. Offered by Premier Island Management Group, which is located on-site and functions exclusively on behalf of the resort, all services and enhancements have been conceived in light of the area’s resources and for the benefit of those who live and vacation here. Robert Babcock, owner of Premier, has far more than a business stake in Portofino. His wife, Sabine, and their two daughters are full-time resident owners with a decided personal interest in keeping the standards high. Consequently, he and his team continually create new meanings for spoiled—on land or on water. 10
Water lovers might have a tough time choosing among the activities offered: Gulf (Adventure Beach), the sound (Adventure Cove), the lagoon pools, a tower pool, or the Olympicsized indoor pool. Will they choose a boogie board or paddleboard, Wave Runner or a kayak, snorkeling or sailing? The quality and quantity of options are impressive. “Our watercraft and gear are top-of-the-line,” says Babcock, adding, “We always want to have the best toys on the beach.” Safety and qualified instruction are also priorities. For several sports, such as sailing, multilevel lessons are available. Friendly tips are also shared freely. Staff members, in fact,
frequently join in if guests need help or someone to round out the fun. When parents want to relax as children beg to play, the High Tide Kid’s Club makes everyone happy. In addition to playing on inflated slides and trampolines in Adventure Cove, children engage in a wealth of age-appropriate activities. Taking an eco-excursion, a child might get to hold a beach crab, and later in the day, he might learn to bodysurf. Camps are different each day, but they always culminate in an activity that reunites parents and children. By the way, all children, even those not enrolled in the Kid’s
Pampering occurs in abundance at Portofino. Beach butler service might begin with a cocktail or Coke, but there are more luxurious options. For instance, a couple may sail to a remote beach where a private dinner for two—linen tablecloth and all—awaits them.
Club, are treated with special care at Portofino. Moms and dads continually thank staff members for making their children feel special by remembering their names and even writing “we miss you” letters. Teens, too, have a special place at Portofino with socials and sports planned just for them. They won’t be begging for the car keys when they are granted teen-only access to Portofino I, the resort’s private luxury catamaran, for a midnight cruise. Spoiled applies to all ages! Grown-ups, however, need not feel left out. European spa services are at the top of the list for those who need to decompress. For multisensory stress relief, cabana and beach massages are strongly encouraged! Pampering occurs in abundance at Portofino. Beach butler service might begin with a cocktail or Coke, but there are more luxurious options. For instance, a couple may sail to a remote beach where a private dinner for two—linen tablecloth and all—awaits them. When it comes to dining, no one need shop or cook. Guests can request that their kitchens be stocked upon arrival, while Chef-to-You allows individuals to reserve their own personal chef, who will prepare any meal right in the suite. Additionally, having two restaurants on the property—Terracotta, which specializes
in European cuisine, and Terrazzo Grille, which prepares casual fare—keeps dining options flexible. Beyond the atmosphere and amusements, destination guests often choose Portofino because it offers so many sports options. Among the resort’s most popular sports is tennis. Five HydroGrid clay courts, which happen to be nestled among sugary sand dunes, hold their own appeal. Even better, Portofino’s Michael Edge and his wife, Krysta, who have ranked first in the USTA National HusbandWife Division, are on board to ensure that the facilities, including an outstanding pro shop, and all programs are world-class. “We hold over 300 matches each summer,” says Edge, who often hosts tennis team retreats that allow players to work on performance as well as enjoy the other amenities. The resort also hosts the Portofino Cup, an annual tri-level tournament, and other competitions as charitable fund-raisers. Still, a player does not have to be ranked to enjoy the tennis. “I teach all ages—three-year-olds and up—and all levels,” says Edge, who reports that rates are very affordable. He is also happy to pair individuals seeking match play. Competitive play at Portofino most certainly includes golf and fishing. For each unit rented through Premier, a party receives one guest pass for one round of golf and one for fishing
per day. Award-winning golf courses and charter boats are nearby, and, to avoid any hassles, the concierge can arrange transportation for guests upon request. Many who play to win or to remain in shape choose Portofino to train. Bikers and runners who appreciate a challenge along with a view enjoy a ten-mile trail (twenty miles round-trip) that begins at Portofino and follows the Gulf Island National Seashore eastward. The terrain and the sea also invite cross-trainers and triathletes. Portofino’s high-tech Fitness Center and accredited staff attract elite athletes who are injured or working to stay in shape during the off-season. Therapeutic massage is yet another part of the equation. Besides, while rejuvenating, athletes have all the comforts of home—and, quite possibly, many more! Partnering with local specialists, Portofino has adopted a strong health and wellness initiative with custom programs that address individual needs. One such partner is Florida Healthspan Institute, under the direction of Thomas R. Schneider, MD, FACS, which facilitates better health through biocenergetics, a holistic approach to balancing hormones. Another is the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, founded by the renowned Dr. James Andrews and Baptist Health Care.
Any guest can take advantage of Portofino’s health and fitness options. A broad range of fitness classes are offered daily, along with one-on-one training. Administered with tremendous encouragement and enthusiasm, personal coaching also includes dietary planning, if desired. No matter what a visitor desires, Premier staffers describe themselves as “dream fillers” who are always looking for ways to highlight their guests’ days and nights. They can plan a New Year’s Eve multigenerational celebration with fireworks on the water or a summer breakfast cruise on Portofino I to see the Blue Angels practice their amazing air acrobatics. “We have guests who vacation here every season because they know each experience will be different,” says Babcock. Summer, of course, is the most popular time to visit, followed by winter, so he encourages travelers to consider the elbow seasons—early spring and late fall when the weather can be at its best. “Whenever you come,” adds Babcock, “we’ll be ready to show you what spoiled really means.”
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ยกViva Pensacola! S p a n i s h R o ya lt y G r a c e s L a F l o r i d a
t is not every day that a city in Northwest Florida, or any city in the United States for that matter, has the opportunity to host royalty. So, when news spread that city officials had invited King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía of Spain to visit Pensacola, the red carpet was unfurled and the city buzzed with excitement about the royal visit. The king and queen were coming to honor the city’s Spanish heritage and to commemorate its 450th anniversary.
Florida’s relationship with Spain dates back to its discovery by Ponce de Leon in 1513. But the city of Pensacola also shares a special bond with Spain. On August 15, 1559, Spanish explorer Don Tristán de Luna sailed into what is now Pensacola Bay with more than 1,500 farmers, soldiers, craftsmen and priests. The group established one of the first major European settlements in North America. Unfortunately, the settlement was met by the fury of a massive hurricane (something modern Pensacolians know only too well) that damaged the settlement, destroyed supplies and ultimately drove the 18
settlers away. However, in 1698, the Spanish returned to establish the first permanent settlement in Northwest Florida: Presidio Santa María de Galve—the foundation of modern day Pensacola. Throughout 2009, Pensacola hosted a variety of festivals and events to pay homage to its 450 years of history. Celebrate Pensacola, Inc. is the nonprofit organization commissioned with promoting Pensacola’s important place in our country’s history. Some of the events included a Spanish-inspired wine festival, the Miguel Zapata art exhibit, a reenactment of the 1781
Battle of Pensacola, the Heritage Festival, a celebration of the de Luna landing and various concerts and parades. The Juan Sebastián de Elcano, the Spanish Royal Navy tall ship on which King Juan Carlos I trained as a midshipman, also made an appearance. But the visit from the Spanish king and queen certainly tops the list of highlights for the yearlong celebration. Their majesties graced the emerald shores of Pensacola on February 18 and 19, 2009, and even the weather was accommodating. They arrived the evening of February 18 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, visiting Pensacola Beach and
Groups of Spanish Americans and Spanish expatriates gathered at the front of the crowd singing songs in their native tongue while holding signs and flags to welcome the king and queen. Cheers filled the square: “¡Viva el Rey!” (Long live the king!) “¡Vivan Juan Carlos y Sofía!” (Long live Juan Carlos and Sofia!).
the Pensacola Historic District the next morning. They toured Fort George, which was the site of the Spanish victory over the British during the Battle of Pensacola, a major turning point in the American Revolutionary War. Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins escorted the royal couple to Plaza de Luna on Pensacola Bay to dedicate the future site of the Spanish conquistador statue. The statue, which was later unveiled in August of 2009, pays tribute to the Spanish explorers who settled Pensacola and honors the city’s Spanish legacy. As visitors traveled to Pensacola for the important event, evidence of the royal presence in the city was apparent. In Gulf Breeze, crowds of middle and elementary school children lined both sides of Highway 98 awaiting the king
and queen’s motorcade. The children waved Spanish flags made from construction paper and held signs reading “¡Bienvenidos!” (Welcome!). Historic downtown Pensacola was dressed in its finest. The noonday sun glinted on the crimson and golden hues of the Spanish flags decorating the historic architecture. Excited citizens filled Plaza Ferdinand in front of the T. T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum as anxious onlookers crowded the balconies of nearby structures vying for the best view. The University of West Florida Symphonic Band performed while masses awaited the dignitaries. Ironically, the plaza (named for Spain’s king in 1781) is the historic place where Andrew Jackson first raised the American flag over Florida, claiming it for the United States in 1821. Groups of Spanish Americans and Spanish expatriates gathered at the front of the crowd
singing songs in their native tongue while holding signs and flags to welcome the king and queen. Cheers filled the square: “¡Viva el Rey!” (Long live the king!) “¡Vivan Juan Carlos y Sofía!” (Long live Juan Carlos and Sofia!). As the diplomatic motorcades arrived, the crowd of nearly 3,000 erupted with enthusiasm. Everyone was hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal pair. Contrary to fairytale images often conjured of royalty, the king and queen wore business suits with their heads unadorned, yet they still exuded an air of majesty. Also greeting the king and queen were Florida Governor Charlie Crist, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, U.S. Representative Jeff Miller, Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins and Escambia County Commissioner Marie Young. At the podium, which was resplendent with red carnations honoring Spain’s national flower, Governor 19
Crist extended a formal welcome to their majesties on their historic visit to the Sunshine State. He said, “Though thousands of miles separate us, centuries of history and culture keep us together forever. Florida and Spain enjoy a relationship that is unmatched among all the states in our nation.” He remarked on the strong partnerships in trade, education, culture and heritage between the two states, as well as the extensive and valued Spanish community in Florida. As Pensacola and Spain gathered that day to honor their treasured past, Crist noted that they were also looking forward to their future. According to the Governor’s office, trade between Florida and Spain reached $1.2 billion in 2008—an increase of 26.1% since 2007. With more subsidiaries of Spanish companies in Florida than from any other country, the historic ties between the two appear to be growing stronger. Governor Crist concluded his speech by officially proclaiming February 19, 2009 to be King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía Day in the state of Florida. In grand European style, King Juan Carlos I addressed the crowd from the second-story 20
balcony of the T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum. “The queen joins me in thanking you from our hearts for your kind invitation to this beautiful and dynamic city that contains so much of the shared history of Spain and the United States,” he said. “We had always wanted to visit you. This great celebration is a unique occasion to do so.” The king thanked the city of Pensacola for preserving what he called “our common heritage.” The king recounted the story of Tristán de Luna and his Spanish ancestors that came to these shores. “They were guided by the hope of achieving, through hard work, a better life for them and for their children. Here, in this land, the seeds of that extraordinary adventure took root and flourished.” This story, he said, “is why the cultural heritage of Pensacola is amongst the richest in North America.” With paternal pride, the king said, “Today we are in Pensacola to tell you that Spain values your commitment to preserving this Spanish legacy and that we are proud of your ancestors and admire how their descendents have helped to build this country.” King Juan Carlos I noted that the Spanish presence in the United States began in Florida and said, “Today, the Hispanic presence is a rich
component to the diversity and strength of American society.” “The queen and I thank you for your warm and generous welcome, one we will never forget,” said King Juan Carlos I. “¡Viva Pensacola! Long live Pensacola!” To which many in the crowd replied, “¡Viva España! Long live Spain!” Following the speech, the king and queen spent a few moments touring the T. T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum. They examined artifacts, including an anchor believed to be from de Luna’s vessel. The University of West Florida archeology department had recently recovered the anchor from a 1559 shipwreck found in Pensacola Bay. The royal couple then enjoyed an elaborate luncheon before departing for the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami. The historic visit by Spanish royalty rallied the citizens of Pensacola and Floridians alike, with a rich sense of place. The visit offered residents a deeper perspective of the important history of this city and state, while uniting people with a spirit of celebration that extends beyond our borders and shores.
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450 th c e l e b r a t i o n
istory is something I have always gravitated toward – the battles, the stories of the past, the treasures buried like a time capsule waiting to be unearthed by archaeologists, eager students, teachers or historians like myself. When traveling along the Northwest Florida coast, as I often do, I frequently reflect on the strong historical and environmental bonds rooted in our region. In 2009, I was thrilled to help the historical heart of Northwest Florida celebrate her 450th birthday. For 450 days, beginning in May 2008 through August 2009, the city of Pensacola took center stage with events that commemorated its significant milestone. As the historical centerpiece of Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast, Pensacola sets a sparkling example of blending the best of worlds with brilliant white sand beaches, relaxing Southern culture, coastal scrub and maritime forests, vast pine ridges, rolling interior, and authentic and significant Florida history. My admiration for Pensacola and the Emerald Coast dates back, figuratively, to Florida’s early territorial days and the Civil War. My greatgreat-grandfather, James Hamilton Wentworth, who fought in and was captured at the famous Gettysburg battle, eventually ended up in Pensacola. His son, T. T. Wentworth Sr., put roots down in Pensacola Beach. Then his grandson, T. T. Wentworth Jr., founded two museums: a state museum in Pensacola and a museum in Ensley. My maternal grandmother, Mary Wentworth Jackson of Pensacola, and her husband, Jack Jackson, owned the Jackson Motel in DeFuniak Springs. Several other relatives made names for themselves in Tallahassee, including William T. Cash, a Florida legislator and the first state librarian. In addition, my mother, of course, was a proud native of Pensacola. I believe that, with Pensacola’s 450th birthday celebration, the world has come to 22
By Brenda Rees know the real story of this beautiful and historic Emerald Coast area. Not many people know that West Florida was the 14th British colony in North America and the city of Pensacola served as the capital. People are amazed to discover that Pensacola is actually older than the acclaimed “oldest city” of St. Augustine, Florida. In my lectures, I inform groups of these little-known facts – including that Walton County, named after Pensacola’s and Florida’s territorial leader George Walton Jr., is approaching its very own 200th birthday. The history of Pensacola goes back thousands of years, and traces of environmental treasures have developed over the ages. While Miami and Tampa were underwater 100,000 years ago, the shores of Northwest Florida probably glistened unspoiled and untouched due to their high elevation. Britton Hill, near Paxton off Highway 331 in Walton County, boasts the state’s highest elevation at 345 feet above sea level. It is considered the “lowest high” in America. Perhaps it is because of the high elevation and natural benefits that native peoples and their ancient middens are found throughout Northwest Florida. New evidence shows native peoples’ presence here more than 25,000 years ago. Native peoples lived here when Panfilo de Narvaez and his ill-fated exploration trip passed the Emerald Coast from St. Marks, Florida on the way to Mexico in 1528. They lived here when Tristan de Luna landed at Pensacola in 1559. Still, they were here on this coastal land when Andrew Jackson arrived in Pensacola to set up the new territory of Florida in 1821. Originally named Santa Maria Filipina, Pensacola was founded in 1559 by the Spanish conquistador Tristan de Luna. Proof of this visit is evident from samples of Aztec pottery and an anchor from the Tristan de Luna ship now displayed
at the T. T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum in Pensacola. A second ship from this expedition was discovered nearby and partially excavated in 2007. Pensacola suffered colonizing mishaps along with a destructive hurricane that left the Luna colony abandoned in 1561. In 1693, Pensacola’s bay was rechristened Bahia de Santa Maria de Galve. Because of its superior harbor, it was suggested that Pensacola replace St. Augustine as La Florida’s capital; however, this did not happen. In 1698, Andres de Arriola was appointed as Pensacola’s first Spanish governor, and the colony was permanently settled. Historically, St. Augustine, founded in 1565, gets the nod for longest continuous city within the current Florida border. However, very few know that Pensacola, established in 1559, is older than Plymouth, 1620, and Jamestown, 1607. There were earlier settlements within the original borders of Florida, which was much larger than it is today. Lucas Vazques de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape in 1526 on what is now the Georgia coast at Sapelo Sound. The “La Florida” map by Geronimo de Chavez, published in Ortelius’ Atlas of the World in 1584, shows an expansive Florida border that included areas of modernday Texas, Mexico and up to Newfoundland. I often tell visitors from neighboring states, “Welcome home to Florida.” During America’s fight for independence in 1778, British soldiers marched between Pensacola and St. Augustine, the capitals of Great Britain’s 14th and 15th colonies. Not only were the sands shifting along the Northwest Florida shore, but the borders and countries were shifting as well. Pensacola is also known by its nickname “City of Five Flags,” as it was claimed by Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States and the Confederate States of America.
Originally named santa maria filipina, pensacola was founded in 1559 by the spanish conquistador tristan de luna. proof of this visit is evident from samples of aztec pottery and an anchor from the tristan de luna ship now displayed at the t.t. wentworth jr. florida state museum in pensacola.
include serving on a committee with Abraham Lincoln; speaking five languages; being credited for naming Tallahassee; and in 1857, for authoring Souvenirs of Travel, one of the early tourist guidebooks written by a Floridian, detailing her European visits. Octavia left Pensacola in 1835 and moved to Mobile where she married Dr. Henry Levert. (Always an independent woman, she spelled her name Le Vert.) After the Civil War, she returned to her place of birth, Augusta, Georgia. Her father, mother, husband, brother and three of her five children had all died.
The United States finally wrested Florida from Spain and established a territory with Andrew Jackson serving as Governor of the Floridas – West Florida and East Florida. One of Jackson’s first acts was to form the counties. In 1821, Escambia and St. Johns were the first two counties established in the state. All present counties of current Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast were once part of Escambia County and had Pensacola as their county seat. New counties subsequently formed to control the legislature. West Florida interests prevailed in keeping the most counties and control of the Florida legislature until the Voting Rights Act as amended in 1965. Florida did not suit Jackson’s personal or political aspirations, and after only four months, he left Pensacola and returned to Tennessee. He appointed his Secretary for West Florida, George Walton Jr., as Acting Governor. According to Jackson’s instructions, official documents and records from the East Florida Acting Governor were to pass through Acting Governor Walton of Pensacola and West Florida. George Walton Jr. and his family lived in Pensacola from 1821 until 1835. Walton again served as Secretary of State for Florida after William Pope Duval was selected as Governor. He continued as secretary until 1826. When Richard K. Call became governor of Florida,
Walton decided to leave Pensacola and Florida for Mobile, Alabama. Walton’s family was distinguished and well known. His father, George Walton of Georgia, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The senior Walton died in 1804, and it was only to be with her son that Dorothy Walton moved to Pensacola, where she died and was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery. While his family resided in Pensacola, George Walton Jr. spent much time in Tallahassee. The Walton House, where they reportedly lived, is in the historic district of Pensacola. T. T. Wentworth Jr. owned the house and deeded it to Pensacola for $1. Considered a great belle of the South, Octavia Walton Le Vert was the daughter of George Walton Jr. As a Pensacola resident, she was amazingly well traveled, accomplished, and the star of her time. Le Vert’s travel journal might rival some of the most interesting in history. During her 1833 debut trip to Washington, D.C. and other locales, she met and began a lifelong friendship with Washington Irving, who referred to Octavia as “one who occurs but once in an empire”; Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem for her after meeting her on a trip to Baltimore; she was received by Queen Victoria and by Pope Pius IX during a trip to Europe in 1853; and in 1855, she was an official representative to the Paris World Exposition. Octavia’s other accomplishments
Floridians should know the stories of George and Octavia Walton, but most do not. Pensacola and West Florida history is often neglected. There are numerous reasons for this long neglect, which has resulted in the current “Disney World-influenced” version of Florida’s history. One such reason was that during Andrew Jackson’s tenure, he sent many of the Spanish back to Cuba; the ship carrying them and many West Florida records was attacked by pirates and sunk. Next, Charles Vignoles admits in his 1823 book touting the new territory, Observations Upon The Floridas, that he slighted information on West Florida and lobbied to get West Florida to join Alabama. West Florida interests eventually won out in this epic East Florida/ St. Augustine – West Florida/Pensacola battle. Educational and travel opportunities were superior in West Florida during the 1880s. One such event was the Chautauqua, begun in 1885 in DeFuniak Springs. In its heyday, it attracted 5,000 visitors by rail from Pensacola and across the nation. This festival’s heritage is still enjoyed around Lake DeFuniak, one of the few amazingly natural round lakes in the world. Pensacola has an abundance of historical treasures, and there are too many to discuss extensively in one magazine article, but I thought there were a few worth noting. The original Pensacola Lighthouse, built in 1824, was the first lighthouse on the Gulf Coast and was built the same year Walton County was founded. The marker placed in 2004 by the National Society, Colonial Dames XVII Century, Fort San Carlos Chapter, Pensacola, Florida, states that the current lighthouse was lit in 1859 and is still in use. 23
Early Florida land developers and traders are remembered by a reconstructed miniature house and Indian trading post built by William Panton of Panton, Leslie and Company. Alexander McGillivray was buried here until his sister moved him to Alabama, per Dr. Randall Broxton, Pensacola Junior College history professor. According to the plaque erected in 1935 by the Pensacola Historical Society, McGillivray was made Chief of the Creek Nation in 1776, commissioned a British colonel in 1778, a Spanish agent in 1784, and a U.S. Brigadier General in 1790. He died in Pensacola, Florida, in 1798. From the historic district, you drive by this house off Main Street on your way to the lighthouse and world-class National Museum of Naval Aviation and IMAX Theater. Pensacola was also known for the West Florida Railroad and brick and timber industries, and would become known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.” Pensacola’s prosperity has been linked to the military for nearly four centuries. The West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. and the University of West Florida have teamed up to provide family fun events and exhibits of numerous Pensacola historical highlights at the Historic Pensacola Village and T. T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum. Plan a trip today to see these special jewels, along with the Seville Historic District, Fort Pickens, Christ Church, the Pensacola Museum of Art, the Blue Angels, the brilliant Pensacola Beach sign, and many excellent restaurants and shops.
850-934-2436 www.PizzazGifts.com 832 Gulf Breeze Pkwy. Gulf Breeze Fl 32561
Michael Smith PHOTOGRAPHY
Thousands of individuals from Pensacola made and influenced Florida history. Many people enjoyed reading, learning, and viewing more about Pensacola during its special 450th celebration. You may never read the Legend of Sleepy Hollow or an Edgar Allan Poe poem again without thinking of Pensacola, Octavia Walton Le Vert or the Emerald Coast. The beautiful sand may sparkle even more as you relax along the shimmering emerald shore. Welcome guests to your home along the Emerald Coast with renewed excitement. They may be long-lost Floridians. Brenda Rees is a local historian and Walton County native. She holds a Florida Master Naturalist certificate, and is certified by the South Walton Tourist Development Council, presenting environmental and history programs through her business, Shaping Florida. During the 2008 Florida Chautauqua, she portrayed Octavia Walton Le Vert. Rees holds degrees from Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University and attended University of West Florida. 24
B EACH P ORTRAITS
Studio One PENSACOLA
103 W. Intendencia St. Pensacola, FL 32502 850.712.0639 michael@StudioOnePensacola.com
First Left After
II Ba. - (I14L. 25
Rob Babcock Creates
Cruise for the
AND Lives Strong
“Before cancer I just lived. Now I live strong.”
These are the inspirational words of cancer survivor and world-class cyclist Lance Armstrong, a man who has empowered and motivated millions of people stricken with cancer to live strong. During his own treatment for testicular cancer in 1997, Armstrong was driven to create the now-eminent Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). At the time, Armstrong had no idea he was about to embark on his future role as a leading advocate for cancer survivors and eventually touch the lives of millions around the globe. Of the many people who take strength in Armstrong’s example of survivorship, one local resident was moved by his passion and determination. While attending the Tour de France in 2003, Rob Babcock, vice president of operations for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, had the great privilege to meet Lance Armstrong’s entourage, a group that included his coach, his friends, and actor Robin Williams. After returning from his trip, Babcock realized he had brought home with him more than just precious memories from the experience of a lifetime; he was inspired to help raise awareness for the LAF and to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer. 26
The odds of being diagnosed with this disease are greater than one would like to believe, and the reality cannot be ignored. According to the American Cancer Society, more than ten million Americans are currently living with, through, or beyond cancer, and one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during his or her lifetime. Like so many, Babcock can relate to the pain of dealing with a loved one stricken with cancer. “After watching my father and aunt lose their battles with cancer, as well as knowing many others who have been affected by this disease, I wanted to help support an organization that focuses on the hope of life after a diagnosis,” said Babcock. Babcock was inspired by the positive message the LAF brings to those dealing with the common disease. “It is refreshing to know in our day and age that cancer does not have to be a death sentence,” said Babcock. The mission of the LAF is to promote the optimal physical, psychological and social recovery and care of cancer survivors. This remarkable foundation believes that, in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything. The unique aspect behind the LAF is
“...in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.” that 80 percent of the funds collected are used for the purposes for which they are intended, not for supporting the overhead of the organization. In May 2004, Babcock was ready to transform his vision into a reality. He wrote an endearing letter to his family, friends, and business associates asking for their support to create a fund-raising effort on behalf of the LAF. Soon after, plans were under way for the Cruise for the Cure to take place aboard the Solaris, the Gulf Coast’s only luxury entertainment yacht, at Baytowne Marina in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. As a member of the Peloton Project—the LAF’s major grassroots fundraising project for cancer research and survivorship education—Babcock’s goal was to raise over $25,000 in sponsorship money, which he would later donate while attending the annual Ride for the Roses, a 100-mile bicycle race in Austin, Texas, the October following the event. On August 13, 2004, a beautiful sunset cruise set sail for an evening of good cheer as the community pulled together for a wonderful cause. For three hours, local residents enjoyed a four-course Mediterranean-inspired dinner paired with exquisite wines, dancing and a live auction with various items donated from the LAF. On this special evening, everyday problems were set aside with the hope of making a difference in the lives of those battling cancer. The Cruise for the Cure was a grand success. Far exceeding his initial goal, Babcock delightedly arrived in Austin with more than $40,000 in sponsorship money. Due to this generous amount, Babcock was given the chance to personally meet Armstrong at the Ride for the Roses, where Armstrong’s then-girlfriend, musician Sheryl Crow, and actors Will Ferrell and Robin Williams were also in attendance. Though Babcock was the driving force behind the Cruise for the Cure, he is quick to add that he did not accomplish this fund-raising effort alone.
“The Cruise for the Cure could not have happened without the overwhelming support of our corporate sponsors, and for that I’m truly thankful,” said Babcock. The local sponsors who pulled together to make the Cruise for the Cure a tremendous success include the Baytowne Wharf Neighborhood Association, Chan’s Wine World, Destin Jewelers, Duce and Comp any, Edward Jones, O’Sullivan Creel, Jim Ryan of Seagrove Beach, Sandestin Real Estate Sales and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “I truly admire what Lance has been able to achieve. As a role model, Lance shows us how you can persevere and overcome obstacles in your life. As an athlete, he has done the unthinkable by winning the Tour de France seven times. As a person, his philanthropic endeavors to help others with cancer through his foundation are awe-inspiring,” said Babcock.
“As a role model, Lance shows us how you can persevere and overcome obstacles in your life. As an athlete, he has done the unthinkable by winning the Tour de France seven times.” Armstrong’s is truly an extraordinary story. Having ignored the early warning signs, he was unaware that he had cancer until it had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. Through determination, education and aggressive treatment, he successfully beat the disease. At 38, Armstrong has accomplished more in twelve years than most accomplish in a lifetime. After battling cancer, he went on to win the Tour de France seven times consecutively from 1999 through 2005— the only cyclist to have achieved this. The founder of the LAF is also the author of two best-selling books, It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life and Every Second Counts. And he didn’t stop there. With the help of a partnership with Nike, Armstrong launched the “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign on May 17, 2004. The campaign, based on the LIVESTRONG yellow wristband that boasts the Armstrong mantra, raises funds for various LAF programs and inspires people with cancer to live strong and remain positive. The wristbands, priced at $1, have become a widespread trend, gracing the wrists of numerous celebrities and politicians. Today, more than seventy million wristbands have been sold. On Friday, February 11, 2005, Armstrong appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he talked about the success of the wristband campaign.
Oprah challenged her viewers to break the previous single-day sales record of 328,000. The twenty-four-hour challenge resulted in the sale of more than 900,000 wristbands. The following week, to no one’s surprise, Armstrong announced he would go for a seventh straight Tour de France victory. “Lance continues to amaze me. He is our nation’s superhero, a true inspiration for us all,” said Babcock. An avid cyclist, Babcock now puts more heart into his training after having attended two Tour de France races. “I’ve always enjoyed cycling, but I’ve definitely become more passionate about it since starting Cruise for the Cure and partaking in the Ride for the Roses,” said Babcock. There is no mistake that the Lance Armstrong story is one of the most inspirational ever told. He has received overwhelming national attention. With seven consecutive Tour de France wins and a successful “Wear Yellow Live Strong” campaign, one could argue that he has in fact been elevated to superhero status. To learn more about the Lance Armstrong Foundation, please call (512) 236-8820, or visit their website at www.laf.org.
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The Island’s Hot Spot for lunch and dinner • Outdoor dining available • Daily lunch & dinner specials • Children’s menu available • Wed. night Prime Rib for $10.99 • Sunday Brunch 11am - 2pm • Daily drink specials • Mon. thru Sun. 11am - until Located at the main entrance of the Portofino Boardwalk - Pensacola Beach, Florida
" I I
Living near a beach often brings a feeling of relaxation. The scenic beauty of the sugarwhite sand and emerald green waters, the smell of the salt air, and the sounds of waves lapping the shore have an amazing effect on oneâ€™s state of mind. But it is important to be informed and aware of ways to stay safe while enjoying one of Mother Natureâ€™s best attractions.
egular beachgoers have their visits down to a science. They often access the Santa Rosa Island Authority’s website at http://sria-fla.com/surf-flags.php to check the flag warning system, which informs them about possible surf conditions and what to anticipate when they arrive at the beach. The flag colors signify surf conditions and the likelihood of rip currents. If red flag conditions are present, then “knee-deep is too deep,” and beachgoers know that cooling down must be done only at the water’s edge. When double red flags are flying, the water is closed for swimming and regulars often bring extra water and umbrellas to stay cool. While beachgoers should always exercise caution when swimming in the Gulf, the best days to swim are when green or yellow flags are flying. If the purple flag is added, marine pests are present, and swimmers should watch out for jellyfish, stingrays, or other dangerous fish.
Powerful rip currents occur along the Gulf Coast, so obeying the flag warning system is of paramount importance. Due to the double-sandbar topography of this region, dangerous rip currents form when there is a break in the sandbar, which creates a narrow path of water that rushes out to sea. Swimmers in this path will suddenly feel themselves being pulled away from shore. Feeling frightened, swimmers may panic and resist the current, trying to swim back to shore. However, it is nearly impossible to swim against this powerful current. Therefore, if you are caught in a rip current, relax, float with the current until it dissipates, and then swim parallel with and back to shore. Local residents know that the best way to avoid rip currents is to know the surf conditions before entering the water. Regular beachgoers are also systematic about selecting the best place to access the beach. The Santa Rosa Island Authority maintains multiple beach access points, providing ample opportunities to reach the beach. Many choose to use public access with parking, restrooms, and lifeguards. Since rip currents are difficult to detect, lifeguards are present to monitor surf conditions, and they can identify when rip currents form. By enjoying the beach where lifeguards are present, beachgoers are provided with added safety under the watchful eye of a trained professional. The lifeguard program is an extension of the beach safety program, and it focuses heavily on education and prevention. Focusing on education and proactive prevention reduces the need for emergency response. While the training standards meet or surpass United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) standards, it is much better to spend time and effort to inform beachgoers about the flag warning system and rip currents than perform rescues. Other hazards at the beach range from overexposure to the sun to jellyfish stings. Some of the things that seasoned beachgoers keep in their bags include sunscreen, towels, bottled water, and trash bags (for their own and other trash found along the beach). For jellyfish stings, many experienced people carry meat tenderizer, baking soda, or a small bottle of vinegar. And, just in case, many regulars bring some type of bug repellent; one home remedy used by locals is a mixture of water and Listerine in a spray bottle. By preparing before heading down to the beach, beachgoers stay safe while relaxing and creating memories that last a lifetime. 32
BEACH WARNING FLAGS
Water Closed to Public
High Hazard High Surf and/or Strong Currents
Medium Hazard Moderate Surf and/or Currents
Low Hazard Calm Conditions, Exercise Caution
Dangerous Marine Life
(Absence of Flags Does Not Assure Safe Waters)
Looking out for your safety, the Santa Rosa Island Authority provides lifeguard services at the main beach on the Gulf of Mexico and on Quietwater Beach on Santa Rosa Sound. Full-time service runs from the first of June through August; part-time and weekend service begins mid-April, then picks up again in September. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Lifeguards are prepared to handle only minor injuries. The Gulf of Mexico is beautiful, warm and inviting but can sometimes be hazardous. Where lifeguards are present, please be aware of flags that alert you to conditions of currents.
Rip currents and rapidly changing weather conditions can create dangerous situations if you are unprepared. It’s always safest to swim where lifeguards are present. Never swim alone. Rip currents are narrow channels of water that flow seaward (away from the beach) out past the surf zone. These currents can pull even the strongest of swimmers into dangerously deep water beyond the offshore sandbar. The first, and most important rule, if caught in a rip current is: DO NOT PANIC! The best way to escape a rip current is to move across it—parallel to the shore. If the current is too strong, tread water until it weakens, then swim back to shore at an angle away from the rip current.
iJ ,~ ' Sun Damage:
Sunburn and other sun damage can be quite painful and is known to increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. The resulting effects of too much exposure to the sun can take up to twenty-four hours before they are realized. Here are some helpful hints to avoid sunburn:
Use sunscreen with the highest SPF Most sunscreens wash off with water or become ineffective from body sweat. Sunscreen formulas that are waterproof or resistant to rubbing off are recommended. >Reapply sunscreen every few hours, or more frequently if you are swimming, sweating or toweling off >Wear sunglasses with UV protection >Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt >The sun’s rays are most damaging between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. >Do not be fooled on cloudy days—sun damage is just as likely to happen
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More often than not, a description of the food is a review of the resort. For a little taste of Portofino, a sampling of Terracotta—the resort’s fine dining experience—and a handshake with Chef Rob Theriot are in order. Although Terracotta’s menu changes seasonally, succulent oxtail braised in Guinness and paired with creamy yet tangy Humboldt Fog goat cheese remains a staple. An artisan cheese (hand-prepared) and peasant cut of beef might be reminiscent of old-world farm fare, but today’s epicureans rave over the preparation and presentation of Chef Rob’s creation. Likewise, shrimp and grits, a Louisiana/Carolina Low-Country dish, tantalizes the most sophisticated palate. His menu on any day might lean towards eclectic, but Chef Rob’s roots, undoubtedly, are Cajun. Growing up in Louisiana with an extended family, he enjoyed countless celebrations and gatherings centered around food. “We were always in the kitchen cooking, so I came by it naturally,” he says. From high school he was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and upon graduating,
Chef Rob spent three years as a sous-chef for Criolla’s in Grayton Beach. He then followed Criolla’s chef to work in a Sandestin restaurant before taking a position with Joël Brasserie in Atlanta. While working at Joël, Chef Rob took time off for a backpacking trip through Europe, where the rich history of food came to life. All along, he continued to experiment, expanding his repertoire of dishes and refining his skills. Rob Babcock, formerly a vice president and general manager of Sandestin before launching Premier Island Management Group to oversee Portofino’s amenities, had kept an eye on Chef Rob’s career. When the time was right, Babcock invited the emerging talent to Portofino. “I love the freedom I have here to experiment,” says Chef Rob, noting that the restaurant hosts wine dinners that enable him to venture “off the beaten path.”
Food and Beverage Director Cheyenne Bates, a self-described “wine nerd” who has strong ties to independent vineyards, works in tandem with Chef Rob. “I love to offer that rare bottle to guests who truly appreciate its qualities,” says Bates, “but by no means do you have to be a connoisseur of anything to savor the flavors.” In addition to wine, and, of course, beer, an island resort must also have its tropical beverages. Among Portofino’s signatures is the Blood Orange Mojito. “The blood orange color makes all the difference,” says Bates. “You’ll never want to go back to the standard.” No matter the recipe, the underlying theme at Portofino is absolute freshness of ingredients. “We are fortunate that we can source such an abundance of foods locally,” says Chef Rob, who buys from Gulf fishermen as well as from produce growers at the Pensacola farmer’s
Among Portofino’s signatures is the Blood Orange Mojito. “The blood orange color makes all the difference,” says Bates. “You’ll never want to go back to the standard.”
market. “Lower Alabama farms supply our meats,” he adds. At the same time, he might order choice ingredients from as far away as Hawaii since turnaround is within one day. “Cooks used to stock their kitchens from the garden or market,” he says, “but we have the Internet.” Since he’s not often home, Chef Rob’s personal refrigerator tends to get neglected, but he always has white wine and cheese on hand. When he has time to cook for himself, the now-seasoned chef reverts to the comfort foods of his childhood. “Seafood gumbo, blood sausage … food just doesn’t get any better.”
By taking the Portofino I eleven nautical miles due west to the tip of Santa Rosa Island, or by traveling approximately thirteen miles overland by bike or car, you can reach Fort Pickens. Commissioned after the War of 1812 and completed in 1834 to protect Pensacola Harbor, the fort was named in honor of Andrew Pickens, whose heroics at the Battle of Cowpens are credited for the final series of Patriot victories that won the American Revolutionary War. Colonel William H. Chase of the Corps of Army Engineers supervised the slave labor that constructed the fort over a three-year period. Using more than twenty-two million bricks to make the fortress impregnable, Chase, ironically, was later ordered by the State of Florida to take Fort Pickens from Union control during the Civil War. Thanks to its sturdy construction and strategic location, however, the stronghold remained in Union hands. Nature, in fact, eventually proved to be the fortâ€™s fiercest enemy.
Although Fort Pickens played a role in the Civil War, as well as in the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II, what piques the interest of visitors of all ages is that fifteen Apache warriors, including their leader, Geronimo, were held captive there from October of 1886 to May of 1887. Although seemingly implausible, the Apachesâ€™ presence turned Fort Pickens into a tourist attraction. On one especially busy day, Geronimo drew 459 visitors! For that reason, the City of Pensacola bemoaned the day on which the Native Americans were transferred from the fort. Although neither prisoners nor soldiers occupy Fort Pickens today, the location remains a captivating spot for historians and naturalists alike. From the haunting remains of the old barricades to the panoramic views of the Gulf and sound, the site is a must-see by land or by sea.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Neighboring the resort of Portofino Island to the east is an eight-mile stretch of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The unspoiled land, which glistens as an endless ribbon of white sand interspersed with sea oats and shrub-like cypress, not only sustains an abundance of wildlife, but also feeds the human soul. In addition to its obvious beauty and recreational opportunities, the protected region is a fascinating outdoor classroom waiting to be explored. Eco-tour guides are eager to reveal the indigenous jewels of the region, though individuals are free to experience the Gulf Islands National Seashore on their own. While enjoying this natural wonder, keep in mind that 80 percent of the national park is actually underwater! The Gulf produces mullet, flounder, Florida pompano, whiting, red drum, and sea trout, 44
while oysters and clams thrive in the still waters of the sound. To find gem-hued tropical fish, take your snorkeling gear to a nearby reef. Breathtaking views, of course, abound above the surface. Among the gratified visitors to the area are bird-watchers. From season to season, hundreds of species—including waterfowl, wading birds, marine birds, and shore birds— use the land to nest, feed, winter, or rest along their migratory routes. Once threatened by toxins, ospreys, pelicans, and Southern bald eagles are now prevalent. Children and adults are equally fascinated by the many mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that reluctantly share their space with crustaceans and fish. Quite a few are nocturnal—beach mice, bats, and blue crabs—so moonlit skies
present prime opportunities to observe wildlife. Sea turtles also nest at night from spring through summer, but the beach must be dark and quiet. In late summer to early fall, a rare sighting of hatchlings scrambling to the surf can be exhilarating. Plentiful but nonetheless exciting to see in the Santa Rosa Sound as well as in the Gulf is the bottlenose dolphin, which is why dolphin cruises, kayaking, sailing, and other types of boating choices remain popular. Whether a visitor is working through a challenging run, relaxing on a sailboat, or learning how to hold a crab without getting pinched, the primal, pristine splendor of the Gulf Islands National Seashore magnifies and intensifies the experience and creates a lasting memory.
the gulf produces mullet, flounder, florida pompano, whiting, red drum, and sea trout, while oysters and clams thrive in the still waters of the sound.
Portofino Island Resort
where only nature goes unspoiled Book with Premier and your Portofino Island vacation includes the following features worth over $750.
• Complimentary welcome gift • Complimentary round of golf daily • Complimentary deep sea fishing excursion daily • Complimentary dolphin cruises* • Complimentary beach chair setup for two • Complimentary Fitness Center access
• Discounts on food & beverage, bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, wave runners, Adventure Cove water park, Kids Club and much more. • Complimentary Catamaran cruise to the Portofino Boardwalk* • Complimentary customized vacation planning • The opportunity to earn complimentary nights
At Hemingwayâ€™s Restaurant there exists a dining environment that Hemingway himself would have felt at home in. Exotic decor, a welcoming atmosphere, and a robust menu all reflect the Hemingway taste for adventure and good food, inspired by his worldly travels.
experience a taste of the island! Hemingwayâ€™s Island Grill 400 Quietwater Beach Rd. Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 Phone: 850-934-4747 Open daily at 11am
Portofino B O A R D WA L K
a Superb Mini-Getaway
When Portofino Islanders are ready to shop, dine, experience live entertainment, swim, sunbathe, or simply take in a change of scenery, they head for the Portofino Boardwalk. Since the Boardwalk is right on Santa Rosa Sound in the heart of Pensacola Beach, boats can easily dock at the pier. Plenty of parking is also available for land vehicles. Just a fifteen-minute boat ride on Portofino I (twenty minutes if dolphins create a playful distraction) or a few miles down the road by car or bike, the Boardwalk shops and restaurants offer more than a mere diversion. Each has a personality of its own with a familypleasing assortment of amusements and treasures. Purchased in the early 1990s, the complex has been transformed over the years by Robert Rinke and Gary Powell. Upscale yet quite relaxed and affordable, the development has attracted a select group of independent merchants and restaurateurs. In turn, a loyal following of visitors keeps it lively year-round in all kinds of weather. For a boutique-meets-the-beach place to shop, everyone loves Lee Tracy Shoes and Apparel. “We dress the generations,” says owner Lee Tracy McLaughlin. A retailer for over twenty years, during which time she has owned thriving in-town, mall and resort stores in Mississippi, McLaughlin spotted an unmet demand in Pensacola Beach when she decided to open 50
Lee Tracy in 2008. Now considered locals, she and her husband live at Portofino Island. McLaughlin might claim that she chose the Portofino Boardwalk, but repeat customers— including locals and vacationers—say that Lee Tracy is their pick. In addition to offering a full selection of must-have brands like Vera Bradley and Brighton, she sells an eclectic blend of unique gift, clothing, and accessory items that turn over quickly. Men, too, will find their favorite lines, but McLaughlin invites those who’d rather unwind than shop to take a seat in one of the store’s large white rockers. Being a good merchant, she explains, is learning to anticipate what her clientele (and their companions) want. This comes from listening to her customers, who usually become good friends. “They’ll come while on vacation, and when they return the next year, we’re catching up on the son in college and the daughter with a new baby,” she says. Consequently, when McLaughlin takes seasonal buying trips to Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando, she goes with her customers’ lifestyles and preferences in mind. Pleased with Lee Tracy’s evolution, the McLaughlins opened Intracoastal Outfitters in 2010. Catering to outdoor enthusiasts or anyone seeking pure comfort, the store features
top-quality brands of footwear and apparel (Birkenstock, Clarks, and Patagonia, to name a few) for men and women. Shoppers will also find hats, sunglasses, jewelry, handbags and more. A Boardwalk shopping excursion, of course, would not be complete without visiting a surf shop. Celebrating thirty years in business beginning with its first location in Fort Walton Beach, Islander’s Surf and Sport is a haven for surfers and all who want the look of those who ride the waves. Serving kids through adults, the retailer sells boardshorts, swimsuits, hats and beanies, sandals, surfing gear and more from brands like Billabong, Hinano Tahiti, Hurley, Oakley, and OluKai. Skimboards, boogie boards, and surfboards are also available to rent. While attributing the success of Islander’s to the quality and quantity of brands he carries and sells in a laid-back, surf-inspired atmosphere, owner John Hambleton, who studied to be a mechanical engineer, cannot directly answer one question: Why does a certain line of T-shirts remain among the most demanded merchandise in his stores? Developed exclusively for Islander’s, his “Beach Bacon” silk-screened character has been a hot seller from the start. The “Beach Bacon” pig—featured engaged in various vacation activities like fishing, riding a jet ski, and snorkeling—has become a legend along the
“They’ll come while on vacation, and when they return the next year, we’re catching up on the son in college and the daughter with a new baby,” she says.
Gulf Coast and beyond. “Maybe it’s the idea of a laid-back pig with no worries,” says Hambleton. “If we make our customers happy, then that’s all that matters.”
wants to be sure he has something to tantalize the most hard-to-please taste buds. He says, “We’re here to provide great food in a great atmosphere for you to enjoy with family and friends.”
Creating happy memories is a theme at Portofino Boardwalk, and much of that is accomplished with food and drink.
For a taste of the water, Quietwater Beach is an extension of Portofino Boardwalk. Commonly called “Mom Beach” for its calm and shallow water, the locale is especially appreciated by parents with small children. While the kids play, adults can relax with the advantage of full beach butler service. Whether someone wants a plastic float or a full picnic, staff is waiting nearby to fulfill desires.
Since its grand opening in February of 2009, Bull Feathers Beach Bar and Grill quickly became known for hand-cut steaks, fresh fish, and made-from-scratch breads and desserts—all topped with Chef Will Eberlin’s warmhearted hospitality.The Chicago native has run restaurants in New York and Florida, but now feels most at home in Pensacola. “Locals would ask me where I was from and then immediately start treating me like I grew up here,” he says. Likewise, he strives to extend the same heartfelt welcome to his customers. Living out his dual passion for meeting people and preparing food, Eberlin arrives at his restaurant each day at 6:30 a.m. to start baking and working on menu items. Among popular favorites are the twelve-ounce rib eye, a lightly blackened grouper Reuben sandwich, homemade key lime pie, and signature beverages. “Nothing is prepackaged or frozen,” says Eberlin, who
What more could a vacationer desire? How about entertainment? The Shell, a Boardwalk focal point, provides a stage for live music performances. With the Santa Rosa Sound as its backdrop, the breezy, beautiful spot is ideal for summer concerts. For an easy, breezy change of place that makes everyone smile, Portofino Boardwalk is a superb mini-getaway right on Pensacola Beach.
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The Portofino Island Resort Development A Behind-the-Scenes View of the Five Towers 53
ith the Santa Rosa Sound to the north, the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and private residences to the west, the twenty-eight-acre property known as Portofino is a rare beachfront treasure. Therefore, when they accepted a development opportunity, Robert Rinke and the late Allen Levin approached every detail with a shared vision that reflected deep appreciation for this natural beauty. Throughout his life, Allen Levin, a native of Pensacola and graduate of the University of Florida, demonstrated his love for his hometown through community involvement and his generous support of causes and charities. He believed that quality growth and island beautification were essential to the area’s vitality and prosperity. Best known for his condominium developments, he broke ground for Tristan Towers over two decades ago. Other projects, including Verandas, Emerald Isle, Beach Club and, of course, Portofino Island Resort would follow with his partner Robert Rinke. Having grown up in Huntington Beach, California, with the Pacific as his playground, Robert Rinke vowed that when the time came, he too would raise his children by the water. Upon graduating from college, however, he
joined Dillard’s fast-track management training program and moved wherever he was told. A store manager by age twenty-four—the youngest in Dillard’s history—Rinke worked long hours, earning a string of promotions during his eight-year tenure in retail. All the while, he imagined the day when he and his wife, Abby, would enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle by the ocean. The catalyst was the birth of their first child, Rhys. “I had nothing to lose,” Rinke says, referring to the moment he held his newborn son and decided to give up the long days and nights he spent at work to be a father. In a matter of weeks, Rinke not only resigned, but he sold the family’s Jackson, Mississippi, home, packed up their belongings, and moved to Pensacola. Loving life on the Gulf, Rinke quickly spotted potential in real estate. From his perspective, he once again had “nothing to lose” by purchasing a boarded-up condo property for auction in Gulf Breeze. “You should understand that my price frame of reference was the relatively exorbitant cost of a tiny beach shack in California,” explains Rinke. Starting out in property management and migrating to real estate sales, Rinke met Levin, and with their complementary strengths, the two launched Levin and Rinke Resort Realty.
When Levin and Rinke embarked on the Portofino project, they did so with a tremendous sense of responsibility to Pensacola’s residents and wildlife, investors and potential buyers, and generations of vacationers. Starting with a twelve-page vision plan, the team took no shortcuts in its implementation. Even with the most stringent, self-imposed standards, the process of meeting and exceeding an abundance of requirements—from those of local citizens groups to the Army Corps of Engineers—took more than two years. To fulfill every expectation, Rinke says, “We hired the best of the best.” At last, the construction of towers one and two began in 2003. The third tower was started in 2005, followed by towers four and five in 2007. Choosing among Florida’s top five architects, they selected EDSA, a firm that is internationally acclaimed for ecotourism and environmental planning and has been involved in a diversity of projects—resorts, communities, cultural facilities, urban centers and more. Minimizing the development’s ecological footprint and maximizing the property’s total value became their goal.
Every Portofino unit enjoys an impressive water and coastline view—of the sound, the Gulf, or both—because all residences are at least twice as wide as the typical beach condo.
Each of the five Portofino towers, for instance, stands one football field apart from the next with minimal paving (made of cobblestone rather than asphalt) that accommodates a roadway and overflow parking. Most vehicles are parked in one of the four-level decks beneath each building. This way, cars are protected from the weather and out of sight. Above all, the healthy separation and zigzagged positioning of towers leave 64 percent of the resort in a natural state while granting the most spectacular vistas. Instead of the usual plan that crowds condominiums on the beach, Portofino’s arrangement also delivers utmost privacy. Putting the first level of living space on the fifth floor ensures that lower floors have wonderful coastal views, and in the event of heavy storms, sand and water surge are unlikely to enter any residence. Passing the hurricane test is a satisfying claim for a resort that lies between two bodies of water. In every aspect of construction, the marriage of structural and aesthetic superiority yields discernible advantages. The towers are threesided to produce panoramic views that are unmatched by rectangular buildings. Perhaps most unique of all, every bedroom, living room, and dining room in every Portofino unit enjoys a spectacular island water view. The triangular shape also creates a mirage of sorts. Depending upon a person’s location on or away from the property, one or more towers will disappear behind others. The existence of the five towers is never overwhelming. Another view enhancer is the width of each condo. Most beachfront high- and low-rises configure their units like narrow shoeboxes in order to claim that many have a glimpse of the water. Every Portofino unit enjoys an impressive water and coastline view—of the sound, the Gulf, or both—because all residences are at least twice as wide as the typical beach condo. In addition, floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors open to generous verandas with tempered glass railings. Whether one is inside or outside on the balcony, the land/seascape is not obstructed by concrete walls. Solid walls, nevertheless, have their purpose. Reinforced with steel, concrete is the mainstay of Portofino’s Romanesque architecture. With the majority of other developers choosing gypsum, only one in five high-rise condominiums is built as soundly as Portofino. Why? The upgrade adds millions in material costs, and it takes 25 percent more time to complete a project of this scale. All the same, Rinke explains, “Our buyers are not glued to the Weather Channel each time a bad storm brews in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Buyer peace of mind and long-term value remained a top consideration throughout the planning and construction process. Water intrusion experts on the design team, for instance, influenced the decision to use commercial-grade windows that are anchored to concrete frames by steel bolts. Balcony floors are also attractively tiled in a water-resistant material. As a result, water infiltration, even in hurricane-force winds and rain, has been scarce. Interior appointments were also made in light of enduring function, beauty, and investment value. From any parking deck, visitors quickly enter their building through an elegant, centrally located lobby that is heated and cooled appropriately. Striking first impressions extend to each condo’s entrance, where an eight-foot-wide double doorway awaits. Refinements abound throughout, allowing the most discerning traveler to feel at home. Central to all two- and three-bedroom condos is an impressive grand salon with a view that is open to a luxury kitchen and large dining area. Oversized tile flooring, crown molding, granite countertops, Kohler plumbing fixtures, recessed lighting, top-of-the-line GE appliances, an exclusive Roman tub in the master bath, and a
bathroom for every bedroom are Portofino standards. In the residences, owners and vacationers find everything one would seek in an upscale, gated community. It just so happens that this gated enclave abuts eight miles of unspoiled natural shoreline, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Santa Rosa Sound. If its interiors, exteriors, and setting weren’t enough to put Portofino Island Resort over the top, the on-site amenities most certainly would. These extraordinary features top the list: a sixty-foot heated lap pool for each tower, a world-class European spa, a state-of-the-art waterfront fitness center, a gorgeous indoor Olympic pool, two lavish outdoor lagoon pools, five lighted HydroGrid clay tennis courts, dining options ranging from five-star elegant to easygoing casual, a sixty-three-foot catamaran, an array of boats and water toys, activities for all ages, and more—all of which come embellished with full concierge service. Needless to say, while Portofino’s condos are value-priced, they challenge the luxury market to come close. “We wanted our buyers to own simply the best product on the gulf coast for the same price as everything else,” says Andrew Rothfeder, a
partner in Levin and Rinke Resort Realty. “We encourage potential buyers to shop everything else before making a decision – the value proposition of Portofino is just that far superior.” For personal and professional reasons, he states that objective with conviction. While enjoying success as a commercial property developer in Atlanta, Andrew Rothfeder received an invitation from the late Allen Levin to join his firm. Interestingly, the two had met when Rothfeder, who had been adopted and raised by his parents in Alabama, went searching for his birth parents. “My wife, Sara, and I were going to have children,” he says, “so it was important to look into my background.” The adoption agency led him to Levin, with whom he found a connection that went beyond sharing the same genes. Ironically, birth father and son had entered the same kind of work and discovered they had much more in common. Because they became so close, Rothfeder accepted Levin’s business offer. Sadly, Levin died of cancer within the next two years, leaving Rothfeder and others to perpetuate his legacy. A hands-on property management team has been fundamental to that effort. “All who have a stake in Portofino appreciate a longterm outlook,” says Rothfeder. The developers contracted Premier Island Management Group, owned by Rob Babcock, to oversee the care of the property, its amenities, event sales, and rentals. Launched specifically to run Portofino, Premier is an on-site company, fully dedicated to this resort. Quite unlike the typical management company that handles numerous properties and treats them all categorically, Babcock has taken up full-time residence at Portofino with his wife, Sabine, who presides over event sales, and their two young daughters to present a highly customized amenities package that is further individualized for each customer. Totally immersed in the lifestyle, the Babcocks desire what other residents and resort guests want to experience. Striving to anticipate every need and whim, Babcock and his team regularly brainstorm, adding and implementing fresh ideas to an already complete wish list of recreation and service options. Premier also manages on-site rentals, providing a turnkey solution to owners with incentives to vacationers, including a generous amenity package that is complimentary. The message of utmost service, quality, and value has resonated among management, staff, owners, and guests. With the developers setting the tone, most attribute Portofino’s close-knit community to the friendly, can-do attitudes that prevail. From year-round residents to repeat vacationers, 57
people universally express that “Portofino feels like home.” Not surprisingly then, numerous buyers first come to the island resort as renters before deciding to own. “Our target buyer is our visitor,” confirms Rothfeder. “By simply doing our jobs, we sell units every season without intentionally marketing to them.” Even so, such a gem could not remain the secret of a select few. Levin and Rinke Resort Realty developers have made a lifetime commitment to Portofino’s large investors and individual owners with an on-site sales office that reaches out to potential buyers across the globe. The developers, nonetheless, know that demand cannot be manufactured, which is why they work tirelessly, always raising the bar for Portofino to set new world-class standards. Accordingly, many want to know what the visionaries have in mind for the future. It just so happens that twelve acres adjacent to Portofino have been earmarked for a branded four-star hotel, crowned with luxury penthouse condominiums. As an extension of the existing island resort, the new project is proposed to enhance services beyond current capabilities— whatever that might entail. The Portofino standard has been established, so anything that comes next will most assuredly be worth the wait.
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Portofino D e s t i n at i o n W e dd i n g s 62
It goes without saying that a wedding at Portofino Island Resort is stunning. The panoramic views of the sound, Gulf, unspoiled shoreline, and beautiful resort create a spectacular setting. Beyond the views, there’s something in the air that makes the event memorable for all of the right reasons—it’s warm, joyful, and intimate.
Those elements don’t just materialize from thin air; they result from a capable, enthusiastic staff that lives to say “yes.” The groom wants to make a Prince Charming entrance.
From the moment a wedding party arrives, a complete destination package awaits. Brunches, lunches, dinners, spa treatments, salon services, and all other amenities can be planned ahead or presented à la carte to guests.
The bride doesn’t want sand in her shoes. The father wants to serve the authentic cuisine of his people. The mother wants one go-to resource. With Portofino’s on-site resort management team, Premier Island Management Group, in charge, anything is possible with one stipulation: it has to be legal. The groom, therefore, makes his majestic arrival on a white horse while his bride watches from a balcony. A boardwalk is designed for the meticulous bride, who decides, after all, to scrap the satin shoes and go barefoot. Inviting a father to give him cooking lessons in advance, the chef learns precisely how to make the traditional Indian dishes that mean so much to his family. From flowers to guest favors, Premier Island Management Group draws upon in-house
personnel and their most trusted partners to produce the big day and all that it encompasses —whether grand or small in scope—with every detail in place. Most agree that the special touches, many of which are unexpected, are what make a Portofino wedding unlike any other. On the morning after their wedding, a bride and groom enjoy a couple’s massage in the spa. To their delight, the staff has filled the room with flowers from their reception. A bride and groom stand on their balcony to find that someone has written a giant best wishes message in the sand. The affair can be formal or casual, conventional or alternative; endless choices are available, suggested and presented. Thus, while most couples opt for outdoor ceremonies, their personal preferences make each occasion unlike any other. Cookie-cutter weddings don’t take place here.
Portofino I, the resort’s sixty-three-foot luxury catamaran, is among many optional venues for the ceremony, a cocktail reception, or even a mini honeymoon cruise. Terracotta, Portofino’s fine dining choice, hosts an elegant black- or white-tie party, while Terrazzo Grille is great for a casual lunch. Likewise, white-glove treatment is wonderful al fresco or indoors. In essence, almost any theme and menu can be conceived and produced by Premier. From the moment a wedding party arrives, a complete destination package awaits. Brunches, lunches, dinners, spa treatments, salon services, and all other amenities can be planned ahead or presented à la carte to guests. Each meal and activity, therefore, can be carefully orchestrated, even broken down by age group and gender, or open for individuals to do as they like. Whether a couple wishes to be highly involved or hand over most of the arrangements to the experts, there’s no need for stress. A destination wedding at Portofino will spoil the bride, groom, and guests to their hearts’ content. What a perfect way to say “I do”! 64
A Rejuvenating Home Away From Home
Just as Ponce de Leon’s travels in search of the fabled fountain of youth brought him to the shores of Florida, so too do many visitors make their way to the emerald green waters and pristine, unencumbered coastline of Portofino Island Resort in search of rejuvenation and the revitalization only the warm Florida sun can bring. These visitors seek out a new respite each year for escaping the winter doldrums in pursuit of a different type of winter wonderland—one where glistening white sands replace snow-covered streets. If you are one of our “extended stay” guests, staying for a month or more, you’re sure to benefit from the serenity of the natural surroundings and warmth of the luxurious accommodations at Portofino Island. With the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the east and the scenic Santa Rosa Sound to the north, Portofino is uniquely situated in the midst of unspoiled nature, all the while spoiling its inhabitants with its amazing accommodations and amenities.
With a home-away-from-home comfort, each 1,500- to 2,500-square-foot residence features unobstructed views of the amazing Gulf of Mexico and/or Santa Rosa Sound. Indoors, the beauty of this spectacular destination resonates with palatial appointments such as elegant columns, domed entryways, arched ceilings, Roman whirlpool baths, and gourmet kitchens.
While feeling as much at home as possible is a requirement for an extended stay, renewing and restoring the spirit is an unexpected pleasure found here. The resort abounds with activities at any speed. From playing a doubles match on one of the HydroGrid clay tennis courts to taking a yoga class in the stateof-the-art Fitness Center or water aerobics in the heated Olympic-style indoor pool, Portofino has specially designed programs just for you. But, itâ€™s the unplanned activities that allow you to reconnect with your natural self. Spend a quiet morning spying the many species of birds that share your love of warmer temps, or kayak the Sound or Gulf for a more invigorating way to start the day. In addition, walking or biking the pristine beaches along the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a fabulous way to explore or simply take in the breathtaking views. A trip to nearby Pensacola is also a refreshing way to spend time off the beach. The arts are alive and well in this beautiful, historic Southern city, home to many cultural events as well as galleries and theaters. Peruse the Pensacola Museum of Artâ€™s collection of 20th century, modern, and contemporary art, including pieces from Salvador Dali and Alex Katz as well as special featured collections throughout the year. Sit front and center for the Broadway series at the historic Saenger Theatre or performances from the Pensacola Opera and Pensacola Symphony. For a truly unique experience, a visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum is a must. Located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, this world-renowned museum boasts more than 150 immaculately restored aircraft, exhibits, and more than four thousand military artifacts including uniforms, flight gear, weaponry, medals, and decorations, as well as a seven-story IMAX Theater. Admission to the museum is free. Besides adventures on and off the resort, access to a host of complimentary amenities and convenient discounts rounds out the experience of a Portofino extended stay. Enjoy complimentary use of the fitness center with cardio and weight training equipment as well
as group fitness classes. Take a dip in the indoor heated pool—perfect for taking the chill off a cool morning. Complimentary use of kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes ensure you’ll have a variety of ways to get out and explore, and discounts at the resort’s restaurants and spa make beachside living a pampered experience. Although Ponce de Leon never found the spring of eternal life, his quest endures and lives in the hearts of those who visit the tranquil shores of Portofino Island. Make this vacation spot your home away from home and discover the restorative nature of spoiling yourself in a truly unspoiled environment. To book an extended stay at Portofino Island, call 877.262.9930 or visit www.portofinoisland.com
S ECRET E S C A P E S Summer may be the most popular time to hit Northwest Floridaâ€™s glistening beaches, but Portofino Island wants to let you in on a few secrets to make the most of your beach escape any time of the year.
Warm Days, Cool Nights
With inviting weather and warm water, spring and fall are possibly the most beautiful seasons along the Gulf Coast. Not only can you indulge in all the luxuries Portofino Island has to offer, but you can also take advantage of lower rates before or after the summer season kicks into gear.
Remember when you had the time to hang out with your friends? Put that cell phone ringer on “silent” and hit the fairways or set out fishing with your best buds for relaxation at its best. Book through Portofino Island, and you will become a part of the Premier Club, offering a complimentary round of golf daily on any of the four renowned Emerald Coast Golf Trail courses and a daily fishing excursion. Ask about our vacation packages for the best rates for your guys’ getaway.
A Sweet Escape
Along with invigorating Gulf breezes and the sounds of serenity, love is always in the air at Portofino Island. Spring and fall offer 70
uncrowded weekend escapes just for the two of you. Grab your sweetie for a romantic rendezvous at Portofino’s pristine paradise.
Make your way to Portofino’s unspoiled shores for head-to-toe pampering and some spoiling of your own. Girlfriends won’t want to miss the chance to relax and rejuvenate at the spa, kick back on the beach, dine on delicious regional cuisine and hit the local shopping and art scene. To make the most of your girlfriend getaway, ask about our special packages just for the girls.
Get your game on at Portofino Island. The resort features five HydroGrid clay courts and a full roster of clinics and programs, as well as personalized tennis weekends and events. Whether a novice or a seasoned player, Portofino can help you take your game to the next level all year long. The resort also hosts the coveted Portofino Cup—a team challenge event—in the spring and fall.
The holidays are the perfect time to grab your friends and family and break away to the beach. Along with festive activities on Pensacola Beach and throughout downtown Pensacola, Portofino’s spacious accommodations provide the ideal home away from home to enjoy your family celebration on the coast. Toast the New Year with special events designed for kids of all ages, including dinner and dancing, an indoor pool party for the kids, and a brilliant fireworks display at midnight, or let the good times roll at the island’s family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration. To book your next Portofino escape, visit www.portofinoisland.com or call 877.262.9930.
Naturally fit At Portofino Island, fitness from the inside out is the natural way to health and wellness. Whether itâ€™s calming the spirit by kayaking across the Santa Rosa Sound, finding your peace in a yoga class at the Fitness Center, or clearing the mind while biking along the white sand beaches, the mind, body, and spirit connection is paramount to beachside living. With this in mind, Portofino Island welcomes two new approaches to its active lifestyle philosophy.
The Curious Case of Biocenergetics
Test and “Tri” Your Skills
Imagine leaving your Portofino Island beach vacation with more than a tanned face and rested body. Imagine coming home with the tools to a holistic approach to anti-aging and comprehensive healing. Well, that’s just what the Florida Healthspan Institute (FHI) wants for you. Much like the renewing nature of Portofino’s unspoiled environment, FHI seeks to slow, stop, and perhaps even reverse the process of physical aging, and has teamed with Portofino to package their customized wellness plans with the resort’s luxury accommodations and amenities.
Drills. Intervals. Pyramids. Oh my. These aren’t the typical words that come to mind when thinking of a Portofino Island vacation … until now. Swim, bike, or run your way to the resort for the newest way to spend a weekend at the beach—Triathlon Performance Training Camps.
Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Schneider, FHI utilizes biocenergetics—medical treatments based on your individual chemistry and hormonal factors. The biocenergetics program lists a bounty of benefits for its patients, including enhanced energy, improved mental function, and a better immune system, among many others. Each treatment plan is designed after a thorough medical evaluation including face-to-face consultations, comprehensive lab evaluations, in-depth metabolic panels and more. Once your wellness plan is crafted, care and follow-up with the FHI physicians is ongoing— even when you aren’t at the beach.
Through an innovative partnership with the Multisport Performance Institute (MPI), Portofino Island is now the training ground for triathletes of all levels. “We have developed a camp that will appeal to all triathletes, from the first-timer to the elite age-grouper,” states Mark Sortino, MPI coach, seven-time Ironman finisher and Tri Gulf Coast’s 2008 Triathlete of the Year. “Our program allows us to spend a great deal of one-on-one time with each athlete so we can tailor advice and instruction to each person’s needs.” MPI’s program is a stand-out among similar type camps because of its one-of-a-kind sessions during the multi-day camp, including swim video analysis, metabolic testing, open water swim sessions with instruction, nutrition education, strength conditioning, and more. Outside the classroom, athletes condition and train in a setting unlike any other. Portofino Island, bordered by the Gulf Islands National
Seashore, provides a pristine and sparsely crowded stretch of paved roadway and sidewalk, perfect for biking and running. For swims, the multi-lane, indoor Olympic-style pool, calm waters of the Santa Rosa Sound, or open waters of the Gulf of Mexico offer multiple options for training. The serene setting coupled with the professional-level training is a boon for any athlete looking to enhance his or her performance. “Our focus is more than just swimming, biking, and running,” adds Sortino. “We want every athlete to leave this camp a much smarter endurance athlete, feeling more empowered to plan his or her training and racing season better.” For health and wellness package information, visit www.portofinoisland.com.
Build Your Own Adventure or enjoy a package deal with the all adventure pass You can bicycle, scooter, kayak, surf, boogie board, paddle board, slip and slide at
adventures cove water park, ride wave runners, motor on sun cruisers, sail, snorkel, lounge in a beach chair, float on your own personal island, enjoy beach games and much more.
Did we mention? KIDS EAT FREE! Premier Club Member Discount Applies Call 877-262-9930 to reserve your All Adventures Pass today
THE PREMIER ADVANTAGE
Weâ€™ve all heard membership has its rewards. Well, what could be more rewarding than a membership that automatically gives you access to a host of complimentary amenities and valuable discounts? No need to rack up points or miles; simply book your Portofino stay directly through Premier Island Management Group and youâ€™re designated as a Premier Club member with all its privileges.
Inspired by the pristine surroundings of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Santa Rosa Sound, each Premier Club amenity is designed for you to discover how naturally luxurious a vacation at Portofino Island can be. Whether basking in the sun from the comfort of your complimentary beach chairs and umbrella set up each day of your stay or playing a complimentary round of golf daily on any one of the four renowned Emerald Coast Golf Trail courses, every sense is indulged as you relax and become fully engulfed in the moment. If the salty sea air calls your name, you’ll enjoy exploring the Gulf ’s waters on a complimentary deep-sea fishing excursion. Or, set sail aboard the Portofino I for a dolphin cruise or a fun jaunt to the shops, restaurants, and nightlife at the Portofino Boardwalk. In fact, your Premier Club membership touches on every aspect of Portofino life, from beach to bay, including discounts at the resort’s eateries, the amazing activities at Adventure Beach and Adventure Cove, and complimentary access to the Fitness Center. Paddleboard your way around the Sound or kayak through the waves—with your Premier Club status, you’ll enjoy these activities for less. What about the kids? Kids are members, too. While parents enjoy the benefits of discounted Adventure activities, kids can romp and play at the Adventure Cove Water Park or join in the fun with other boys and girls tie-dyeing T-shirts, catching a dive-in movie or discovering the abundant wildlife through the supervised High Tide Kids Club. If these benefits aren’t enough, earn free nights by coming back for more, and take advantage of complimentary customized vacation planning services, ensuring every stay introduces something new for you and your family to discover. Rewarding indeed. To book your next Portofino stay through Premier Island Management, call 877.262.9930 or visit www.portofinoisland.com for rates and information.
Gain access to Portofino’s finest amenities. Simply book directly through Portofino Island, either online or via the toll-free number, to become a Premier Club member.
Amenities include: :: Welcome gift :: Beach chairs set for two each day :: One round of golf per day at any Emerald Coast Golf Trail Course :: One deep-sea fishing excursion per day :: Catamaran cruise to the Portofino Boardwalk :: Fitness Center access :: Customized vacation planning :: Dolphin cruises :: Discounts on food & beverage :: Discounts at Adventure Beach, Adventure Cove, and the High Tide Kids Club :: The opportunity to earn free nights and more 76
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unplugged ad v e n t u r e s Kid adventures come unplugged at Portofino Island, where exploring the natural wonder of the resortâ€™s unique surroundings and playing outdoors provide thrills of a more authentic nature. So, turn off the television, grab the kids, and let the sun shine on your fun.
Splish and splash your way to Adventure Cove, Portofino’s own water park. Located on the calm waters of the Santa Rosa Sound, Adventure Cove keeps kids bouncing all day long with water trampolines, huge water slides, exciting water games and more. Race to the top of the Summit and slip and slide your way down. Swing and climb on the multi-tiered Jungle Joe— a floating jungle gym. Or, rock and roll on the circular, water rocker—the Rockit. There are tons of ways to have fun on and off the water at Adventure Cove.
To experience all the resort has to offer and more, be sure to purchase an All Adventure Pass for a family of up to six, including two adults. The pass allows you and your crew to be as adventurous as you want at the best value available. The pass includes unlimited usage of the Adventure Cove water park, and one hour per day of bicycles, kayaks, surfboards, boogie boards and more. Plus, kids twelve and under eat free from the Kids Menu.
Hop on a bike, grab a kayak, or take a guided tour but explore ... yes, explore the pristine environment Portofino Island calls home. Uniquely situated near a protected Watchable Wildlife Area—the Gulf Islands National Seashore—Portofino’s proximity to this national treasure allows you to view native landscape and wildlife including four sea turtle species, otters, dolphins, ospreys, and pelicans, to name a few.
Lesson Learned What could be more memorable than learning a new pastime together? Hit the beach and hang ten with surf lessons from Portofino’s Adventure Beach Crew or grab a board and paddle along the coast. Earn certifications while on vacation. From scuba diving to sailing, you can learn to master the sea with a customized learning vacation package. Young ones can learn to swim with our certified swimming instructor in special classes at the indoor heated pool. And, kids of all ages can improve their game with tennis lessons and clinics at the Portofino Tennis Center.
Go Cruisin’ Take the family for a morning dolphin cruise aboard the resort’s 63-foot catamaran, the Portofino I, and spy these playful creatures frolicking in the Santa Rosa Sound. Or, board the Portofino I for a relaxing cruise to the shops, restaurants, and family-friendly events at the Portofino Boardwalk. There’s even a special Teen Scene cruise for more fun after the sun goes down.
Amped-Up Adventures Feel the rush of rolling and looping during an aerial acrobatic flight; or get ready, get set, jump and experience a tandem sky dive and view the island as far as the eye can see. Go deep and explore the waters surrounding Portofino Island with a scuba diving adventure. Or, if you’re keen on mastering the sea, try a sailing excursion with our experienced American Sailing Association-licensed captain. Whatever your thrill, Portofino Island is sure to feed your need for extreme fun.
Join the Club To truly take advantage of all the pint-sized activities Portofino Island has to offer, kids can join in the fun at High Tide Kids Club. The club offers a new and exciting program each day of the week. From crafting tie-dyed T-shirts and going on treasure hunts to visiting the nearby Naval Air Museum or taking a nature tour around the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the club designs activities with kids in mind. For more information on all Portofino Adventures, including the Ultimate Adventures, High Tide Kids Club, and the All Adventure Pass, call 877.262.9930 or visit www.portofinoisland.com.
B E S T OF T H E B E A C H
Like a fine wine or an exceptional work of art, the Premier Island Management Group collects the best of the bestâ€”accommodations on Pensacola Beach, that is. From convenient, affordable beachfront condominiums to luxurious penthouse suites, the Premier Collection caters to every taste and budget for those seeking an amazing stay on Northwest Floridaâ€™s breathtaking beaches.
The Premier Collection is a grouping of accommodations including Portofino Island, Beach Club, and Emerald Isle—all located on Pensacola Beach. From Emerald Isle’s convenient proximity to Pensacola Boardwalk and Portofino Island’s unspoiled seclusion to Beach Club’s exquisite luxury and attention to detail, each accommodation offers its own unique advantages and amenities to visiting guests. Even with their distinct nuances setting them apart, each delivers the exceptional service and personalized vacation experience for which the Premier Collection has quickly become known. “We live here, work here, and only manage properties on Pensacola Beach, so we are fully dedicated to making memorable experiences for our Premier Collection guests,” says Rob Babcock, CEO of Premier Island Management Group and General Manager of Portofino Island. The Premier Collection provides its travel guests the best value, variety, and views for vacation accommodations on Pensacola Beach. As a Portofino Island guest, you are already getting the Portofino experience up close and personal.
So, whether you choose to stay at one or experience them all, here’s a bit more about our sister Premier Collection properties to whet your appetite.
wonder in such a luxurious setting, and a stay at Beach Club is a perfect way to reconnect with friends, family, and yourself, surrounded by the beauty of this amazing destination.
B each C lub Intimate and contemporary, Beach Club Resort and Spa offers a serene seaside sanctuary to relax and rejuvenate. Beach Club is a study in artistic accommodations, providing exquisitely decorated residences and a sophisticated setting for an awe-inspiring beach vacation. With a refined beachy-chic atmosphere, the exquisite beachfront property features three- and fourbedroom residences overlooking the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico. The resort’s centerpiece, Aqua, features an elegantly modern spa, with a full lineup of mind- and body-calming treatments, and a state-of-the-art fitness center with Lifecycle cardiovascular and Cybex strength training equipment, free weights and a separate group classroom. The 12,000-square-foot facility also boasts an indoor heated lap pool and separate aerobics pool as well as dry saunas, steam rooms, and whirlpools for melting tense muscles and any worries away. Workouts are a
Emerald I sle Often called the “hidden jewel” of Pensacola Beach, Emerald Isle is a comfortable high-rise located directly on the pristine beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Emerald Isle offers familyfriendly Pensacola Beach vacations with just the right combination of thrill and chill. The private sugar-sand beaches invite guests to bask in the sun or let the surf wash over them to decompress and de-stress. At Emerald Isle, guests enjoy two pools (one heated), a fitness room with dry sauna and spa, and boardwalks to the beach and outside showers. Just minutes to the family-friendly eateries and attractions of Pensacola and Pensacola Beach, Emerald Isle offers the perfect Pensacola Beach vacation. To learn more about the Premier Collection, visit www.premierislandcollection.com.
Let us ORCHESTRATE your dream. For the perfect products for your kitchen or bath, stop by a Ferguson showroom. It’s where you’ll ﬁnd the largest range of quality brands, a symphony of ideas, and trained consultants to help orchestrate your dream. With showrooms from coast to coast, come see why Ferguson is recommended by professional contractors and designers everywhere.
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THE On-site Portofino Real Estate Team
Own the lifestyle. Choose the experts.
We have sold over 1,000 Portofino sky homes. Portofino is what we do, and we do it best. Please visit a Levin & Rinke professional at the resort check-in building. INTEGRITY. EXPERIENCE. PROFESSIONALISM.
Robert Rinke, Managing Broker