Have you ever dreamed of running away to white sand beaches that stretch on for miles? Or wished to jump into crystal clear seas with dolphins jumping just past the breaking waves? Did the intimidation of an international trip hold you back? The thought of getting passports and changing currency to get to this relaxing place too much to get into? Well, I found it in our own back yard and enjoyed it for a long weekend in October!
Our family of 5 (mom and dad plus 10, 8 and 3 year old) packed our car full of bathing suits and beach towels (in October!!) and made our way to The Beach Resort in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was a good 6 hour drive from Atlanta, but definitely doable for a long weekend. The ladies I spoke with on the phone to book our vacation were full of that typical Southern charm I’ve come to love while living in Atlanta - super friendly, helpful and willing to answer any questions we had before we even arrived.
The Beach Club itself is located about 12 miles from town. Be sure to stop in town at Publix (the local grocery store) to stock up. There truly isn’t a grocery option once you get to The Beach Club. As you drive the 12 miles out a long peninsula, you get the true feeling of being removed from the hustle and bustle. Read: VACATION! The main check in area is at the front of the property and easy to find. The same super friendly people I talked to on the phone were working the check in desk and they will give you a car pass to enter the main property which has 24 hour security.
The property has four main towers of condominiums. The first building was built in 1989 with the most recent tower completed in 2002. All the condominiums are individually owned and maintained. We had a three bedroom, three bathroom condo with a full kitchen, laundry machines and a deck with beautiful view of the ocean and sunsets. Our condo had plenty of seating: a 6 person dining table, breakfast counter with seating for three, a dining table for 6 on the deck plus an additional high top table for 2 on the deck, living room with seating for at least 6. The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, utensils, bowls, dishes etc.
Our family of 5 was extremely comfortable in the three bedroom unit at night. The rooms were set up with a king, a queen and two twins. Each room had it’s own bathroom which was adequately stocked with towels as were the bedrooms with sheets, blankets, and extra pillows.
The only setbacks we had with the unit were minor: a few lights not working, dvd player not working and a few dirty dishes. Overall, the unit was more than adequate…and truth be told, we were in Gulf Shores to be on the beach, not hang out in our room.
So, let’s talk about the beach. I mean, THE BEACH! This was my favorite part of the entire weekend getaway! It is absolutely spectacular! The sand is like sugar under your feet…white and smooth that stretches for miles! The crystal sea rolls onto your toes and lures you in. The ocean here is clean - so clean in fact, that you can see schools of fish swimming by!
While you are welcome to bring your own beach gear, you can rent a beach set (two chairs, an umbrella and small table) for $30 for the day. If you rent more than one day, the cost on subsequent days is $25. Be sure to bring towels as those are not provided.
And just when you think that the beach is the only option, there are four pools - one in front of each building; and an additional pool at the club house! The pools have plenty of beach chairs and each has at least one hot tub. The Clubhouse offers a small (but adequate) fitness center with full locker room facilities on par with any country club, indoor pool, outdoor pool, hot tub and Spa facilities.
On property, the resort offers two restaurants: Coast and Village Hideaway. Coast is a seafood restaurant that is a more upscale environment. We didn’t have the option to dine at this location as it was booked for Owners’ Week. The Village Hideaway is located near the check in office and is your typical pub fare with arcade games and billiards. The setting makes it perfect for families, however, our experience wasn’t great. The food was sub-par and we found it to be expensive for the quality. I would have preferred to have had dinner in our condo, where at least we had a view of the extraordinary sunset! Located near the Village Hideaway is the Village Creamery (ice cream, scones etc) and the Village Mercantile (clothing, toys, accessories). The Creamery closes early and with it’s location being a hike from the beach, it’s not a Must See.
The Beach Club does do an excellent job with activities for kids. When you check in, you are given a schedule for the entire week such as: make your own playdoh, hula hoop contest, poolside crafts (some with additional charge), bubble time, photo scavenger hunt, belly flop contest, cannon ball contest, frozen treats by the pool and candy bingo. Keep in mind, these were offered during our stay in October. I can only imagine the offerings in June.
Truly there isn’t much need to leave the property, but locally, there are a lot activities to experience as well. While we didn’t partake, we saw plenty of signs for golf, fishing and nature preserves. There are even a few mini-golf and small amusement type activities in the main town about 20 minutes from the resort. We did make the 10-ish mile drive out to Fort Morgan, a Civil War era military fort. It received rave reviews from our kids because they were allowed to climb and explore the fort!
Overall, we enjoyed the Southern Hospitality, the spacious accommodations, and the relaxing vibe. The beach itself was the biggest hit with each person in our family and rightly so with all it had to offer. As we were packing the car to head home, our 10 year old told us he didn’t want to leave. What else do you want to hear from your kids after a family getaway??
Disclosure: My family and I were given a complimentary 3 night stay. This in no way influenced my review. I was not required to write anything specific and all opinions expressed are my own.