What’s the view like?

Everybody know’s about the sugar white sand of Destin, that’s why we go there. There is no doubt that nothing beats the beauty or cleanliness of the Emerald Coast Beaches, but there is so much more in this quaint little area.  Just look a little further out and notice the water on a calm day, you can see right down to the bottom, where little fish are swimming around you.  On a windy day there will be waves, waves that lift up an incredible translucent emerald green.  Of course the beach beams with life you wont be seeing normally.  All this makes for a wonderful relaxing day of simply enjoying nature. Only the locals and die-hard beach goers know that during the fall the sunsets move from behSunsetind the condo towers and makes an amazing spectacle as it sets over the ocean.

Sunset Wheat Grass

As  you pull back from the beach along scenic 98 or 30a you can’t help but be impressed with Beach Cottages lining the road.  Planning departments have done a wonderful job setting requirements for neighborhoods to have that special look. The wife and I started renting down here about 15 years ago in the 30a Seagrove area.  We explored Seagrove, Seaside, Mirimar, and Destin. We noticed some differences in the neighborhoods that added or detracted from our enjoyment when off the beach.  While Beach Cottages in themselves have that quaint look, we always wanted maximum exposure to the natural beauty of the area.  With many of the home, when you look out the windows, you see another home, or their back yard, and they see into yours.  We all know this is what happens with prime real estate.  They build them closer and closer together.  In my opinion this is part of the reason 30a is gaining over Destin, many of the Destin communities are very cookie cutter with houses a few feet from each other.  But that’s not to say all of Destin is that way, and perhaps the quaint cottage look is enough for you.  The Crystal Beach area has many wonderful neighborhoods with charming houses very close to each other, and they are very popular.  Many of the Gated Communities fall victim to the tiny land lots where all you see is the cottage next door (and they see you). So 30a draws people away from the crowded city, yet, that same crowded city will always draw you back because it is the hub of the shopping, dining, and activities.

When we started looking for a second home in the area, we made our realtor show us some 30 homes from Panama City to Destin. Panama City dropped off quick, and Destin was a long shot due to our not wanting be inundated with the crowds and crowded houses.  One neighborhood we looked at immediately struck us as different.  We could tell the houses were not rental machines, but rather owner occupied because of how pristine the whole neighborhood was.  In addition to the charming beach cottages we were looking for, there were also the most intriguing twisted oak trees throughout the streets.  Many of these look to be over 100 years old.  Live Oaks and Palm Trees everywhere and we were feeling pretty good aboutTwisted Oak the house we were going to look at before we even saw the house.  If you are familiar with the popular Crystal Beach area, you may know Luke, Dolphin, Pompano streets and the cute cottages lining those streets.  Then venture into Kokomo Kove and you will notice the big difference.  The houses are just across the street from the beach, and the trip down the street to the beach is just majestic! (We’re going to have a live video made in Oct-2015 that will show this)

Ok, so what about this house, and what about the view?

So this house had listed that it was lake front and had a pool.  As far as views go, nothing beach the beach and ocean view, but a house with this view is north of a million. We were setting our sights quite a bit lower than that so were were not expecting a million dollar view. To be honest about the pool, my early inclinations were that I knew nothing about them, they cost extra, and we have the beach so who needs a pool. Maybe you’re laughing at what Whispy clouds at duska bozo I was, I know right.  We walk into this house and see that lake straight out the back window. Wow, it was just amazing.  It is the lake from Destiny West with million dollar houses lined all around it (pretty to see, but far enough not to hear). Upstairs there were two of the bedrooms with glass doors opening up to another balcony with an even more astounding view of the lake.  At a place like this, time away from the beach wont really be down time with a view like this.  Getting up early to watch the sunrise over that like is just incredible.  Barbecuing on the balcony is just a pleasure as you are musing at that Balcony Sunset1lake.  Looking back, the house was quite a fixer upper, and the best view from the main floor had been completely blocked off.  From the best seat on the couch for watching TV, you now have the best seat in the house for watching that lake too.  I often find myself gazing out there over the TV. I’ve done it often enough to notice that there is a Sea-hawk (Osprey actually) that hangs out in the gargantuan tree overlooking the lake.  From time to time, he swoops down into that lake and grabs your attention.  Then up he goes with a big fish in his talons.
On cloudy days where you don’t want to venture down
to the beach, you will be pleasantly surprise by the beauty of the clouds over the lake.  Sunsets are just astonishing as you can see from some of ourSeaHawk_Ospree pictures.  You must admit, a view like that is way better than the wall of another home!

As I said the house needed some work and I wasn’t sure about the pool situation so we look at this one 3 or 4 times.  Always impressed by the neighborhood and view, but unsure of the work needed and the pool.  Each time my realtor would impress upon me that renters want a pool. We made an effort to speak with any neighbors we would see and they too would also say, “the house with pool, you will do well”.  So I was starting to feel another one of those I know I don’t know moments and accepted the pool. That right there was critical.  We bought the house in the winter so didn’t appreciate first hand how awesome that pool is.  To come back from the beach on a scorching hot day and dip into that pool
is really nice.  The fact that it is fenced in is really nice for the privacy.  Add that we are at the end of a dead end streetPrivate Pool adds to that seclusion.  I spoke with the owner of what I’ve always considered one of the most impressive home in the neighborhood (Sunkissed) a couple months after I purchased it.  He explained how before he had his phenomenal pool put in, he could hardly rent his house.  After the pool, no problem. After my first rental season and experiencing the pool for myself, it is definitely a must have. It’s so warm at night during the season that it is even fun going out there after dark.

In keeping with our ideals that being Pool_Solar_Nightaway from the beach doesn’t have to be a let down, my wife has done a wonderful job decoration the beach house. As you move around your eye will catch the various touches of ocean decor throughout so your eyes will know that the view is all important!




Why you can’t use the Good Stuff?

It’s a matter of Attitude.  Really is a philosophy the owner has about beloved things and sharing them.

I’ve seen it throughout my journey as a property manager.  I remember when I met the owner of Doctor’s Order prior to purchasing it.  I commented to him about how things were pretty beat up and his reply told me a lot.  He said, “why bother fixing this stuff as the renters will just tear it up”.

Prior to purchasing our beach house in Destin, Florida, I acquired 4 rentals in the Atlanta area. Over the years I’ve hears many landlords express that same sentiment.  These same landlords are usually the ones complaining about people not paying rent and having to go through evictions all the time.

What I learned over the years is that is you don’t want to be a slumlord, you need to present a place the families will take pride in living there.  This has been my manta over the years and I’ve never had the problems others seem to have repeatedly.  I also learned from many business ventures that most of the times, the people demanding the steepest discounts are the ones that cause you the most headaches. If you offer a good product, and people appreciate it, they will realize the value and pay for it.

So while most owners have the mindset that it saves them money to with hold the nicest things they have from you,  I realize that it is those nice things that will make you feel good about the place you have chosen to stay.  When I do upgrades on any of my homes, I always go top line.  I’m never frivolous, but the wife and I do not skimp. We want you to feel like your vacation is at a place that is nicer in many ways than your own home.  We want you to be able to enjoy all the activities that the area calls for.

Vacation Beach House Rental Destin FL



So for the Crystal Beach area, everybody should be able to enjoy a bike ride, or go kayaking in the ocean. This is why at Doctor’s Orders Beach House we have all those things, and share them with you. We also see those wonderful Beach Umbrella and Chairs that you can have if you shell out $35 every day. We think you should have those too, so we had some made up with our custom logo on them.  In the house, you will notice things like a very new top of the line Weber BBQ, Keurig and Cuisanart coffe makers, new pots and pans, glasses, adorable Bedspreads, etc..  All of this is part of the mantra that if you love our house as much as we do, you will treat it with respect.

Yes, these things are costly and allowing our guests to use them will wear them out much quicker, and some things will get lost or broken, but in the grand scheme of things where appreciate families are paying good money to stay at Doctor’s Orders, we will fix or replace as needed.

Through our first year of renting the beach house, this attitude has worked as well as it has back in Atlanta.  Our guests have been a pleasure to deal with.

Ken & Franni Whiteside
Doctor’s Orders Beach House

Crystal Beach Vacation Rental

House vs. Condo. A matter of Taste!

Vacation Rental Home are becoming more and more popular because they offer so much over the hotels or condos. While the hotels and condos can offer a less expensive way to have direct beach access and views if you are traveling as just a couple, the benefits overwhelmingly add up in favor the the Luxury Beach House Rental like Doctor’s Orders when traveling with a group.

Kokomo Kove Front 2

  • Better Bang for the Buck
    • 12 People during Peak Season $4000 a week, $308 per person, $44 per day per person
    • during spring or fall season approx $2500, $208 pp, $30 per night pp
    • even less during winter
  • Bring Fido, your little buddies would love to be with you on your vacation.
  • More space.  Bigger rooms, bigger kitchen, bigger baths, more parking.
  • Better Beach Access.  Usually a 1/10 ratio vs the public beaches or Condo beaches.
  • Family and Friends together.  You wont have to be in different building or on different floors!
  • Living like a local.  You’ll feel it when you pull in, walk the street, chat with the neighbors!
  • Privacy – you wont hear or see the strangers on the other side of the walls.
  • Private Pool – Anytime your group wants to use it, all fenced in.
    Private Pool
  • Your own Balcony or Porch to enjoy the morning coffee.
  • Gourmet Kitchen – Fully stocked, full size refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker.
  • Washer and Dryer – pack less clothes as you can wash what you bring.
  • Better beds and amenities – This home is the owners pride and joy, and they are sharing it with you
  • More Beds and Baths so less sharing
  • Extras like Kayak, Bikes, Beach Umbrellas and Chairs included.

Avoiding the Emerald Coast crowds at the beach.

Don’t you just want that beautiful beach all to yourselves?  Unfortunately, the nicer they are the more people fight to be on them. Why do you think they build those sky-rise condo’s right on the beach? We learned a long time ago what beach life is like out front of the big condo building.  Somehow I got an offer for 4 nights free at one of those and all I had to do was listen to a 3 hour sales pitch on buying a condo. No obligations, so I made my wife give it a go with me.  Sat through the 3 hours, passed on it, and then we had the rest of the 4 days.  As we all filed out of that conference room down to the beach, it became painfully obvious that this paradise beach wasn’t going to be as special as we had hoped with over a thousand people spilling out into a dedicated section in front of the condos.  Yuk! We ended up walking down the beachWhiteSand quite a ways and throwing our towels out in a more isolated section.  This was much better until some local explained to me how this was a private beach for the owners only, and that the public beaches are down a bit.  So we walked back to where we belonged and tried to enjoy the congested beach.  After a short while, I thought, let’s drive down and check out those public beaches. It was about 2pm at this point, so while the public beaches do have parking, the parking is limited and by mid-day, every spot has already been claimed.  Not a great start to my little paradise vacation.

Okay, we’ll get one of those spots tomorrow by going early.  Sure enough that worked and we got a nice spot on the beautiful emerald coast.  Guess what our nice little spot was like come noon time.  That’s right, all the parking spots filled up quickly, and the public beach was packed like sardines.  I learned some valuable lessons that day that over the years helped me figure out how to beat the crowds.  Bear with me and I’ll show you how you can see for yourself where the crowds are.  Now maybe you don’t mind the crowds, but for my wife if people are within 10 feet of you front, back, side by side, all talking, playing different music, kids yelling, it becomes more like slumming than paradise.  I get what she feels, for me it’s like going to a game and sitting in the nose bleed area, when you’ve tasted what it’s like behind the catchers plate, or on the 50 yard line.  At some point, just being there isn’t good enough. So the quest was to find a little seclusion on the emerald coast.

The quick fix was to stay away from the city areas of Panama City and Destin.  Same mentality as the work commute.  People usually work in the hub of a city, but due to economics, live in the metro or rural area to have more space.  So we did the Vacation Rental Beach House thing for many years in the Seagrove 30A area.  The crowds at the public beaches there are acceptable, while only 20-30 minutes to all the activities of Destin.

After the economic recession and a hurricane or two, I noticed pricing of the homes in the area had taken a beating.  I found myself in a position to actually get a place on the Emerald Coast. For us, we had some requirements.  It had to be our own private house, walking distance to the beach with your stuff, and the beach had to be beautiful and sparsely populated.  So we started the hunt.  Each time we would visit, I would rent in a different area so we could verify the quality of the walking distance and the quality of the beach.  As we moved around those initial lessons really came into play.

  • Anywhere you have a huge condo unit beach front; all those people are going to swarm onto that section of the beach.
  • Public beaches are open to anyone, so they are pretty much always going to be crowded.
  • Private beaches have the best chance of finding a secluded paradise, but they can vary based on circumstance.
    • There are private areas like those used by Emerald Shores. While private, there are just so many homes and they share it with their sister condo establishment. Too many people per sq. feet of beach.
    • Some private areas are right next either a public area, or a monster condo area and the masses of people spill over into the private area making it not so private.

Let me show you what I speak of.  I found that Google has a nice satellite view of all the beaches.  You can actually zoom in and see for yourself how populated they are on the day the satellite took the pictures.  What you see is very revealing and basically backs up everything I’ve been telling you in this blog.  This is the link to the Destin Beaches.  https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zfVRDjNQZVAY.klOq4rBwIedA

I’ll use my beach house, Doctor’s Orders as an example.  Click the drop down for the Destin Public Beach Access so you see all 12 of the public beaches. Now click James Lee Park. Then find the +- button on the map and zoom in 5 times by hitting the plus sign. Now you should see exactly what I’m talking about.



The map viewer will be a lot clearer than my image.  The dots are people (zoom more and you will see).  The lines of blue dots are the beach umbrellas.  What we found was that the Doctor’s Orders private beach usually has about 1 person to 10 people on the other beach! The beach is deeded to the Kokomo Kove neighborhood which is small, but as most do they share with the beach front units. In our case it’s the Sea Oats motel which is only 2 stories. So compared to the monster condos like Crystal Sands down there way, there simply aren’t that many people to spill out onto the beach.  In addition, you will see one area is almost totally vacant.  This area is for the multi-million dollar beach front homes, and serves as a buffer between our private beach and the public beach by the Crab Trap. Those houses are so exclusive that there is barely anybody on that beach.

So I’ve found BeaMap showing walkch Nirvana right in the heart of Crystal Beach Destin! Doctor’s Orders Beach House is literally minutes from all the dining, shopping, activities of Destin, and a short walk to the private beach.

Best Seafood in Destin!

Dewey Destin – Hands Down!

But you wouldn’t think that this little dive would have some of the best seafood in the country? It’s no secret to the locals of Destin that the original Dewey Destin is the pace to go for seafood right off the boat. You will have to test yourself as you drive down a unpaved roadDewey Destin Parking Lot, past broken down shacks and end up with a big dirt parking lot looking at this. Trust us and go in! You will feel like a true local as you eat the best seafood you have ever had. The original Dewey Destin.






Dewey Destin on the water Dewey Destin