From the Editor

The Best is Hard to Beat

By Lori Hutzler Eckert, Editor

After some deep and reflective thought, I am prepared to face the cold, hard truth: The countless friends and family who have visited our home since my relocation to the Emerald Coast in 2004 are not really here to see me. Longtime relationships, the chance to spend quality time together, and my finely honed, Donna Reed-like hosting skills as the draws were just a silly illusion. These people are basically here for the beach and all that goes with it.

I deftly began to catch on when I called a friend to let her know that my husband, Richard, and I had to go out of town on the weekend she and her family were scheduled to visit. Her quick reply that there was no reason to worry – I could just leave the key under the welcome mat and a list of restaurant recommendations on the kitchen counter – tipped me off.

I’m quick that way – even if it has taken the full three years to get it. And once I put some thought into it, I wondered if we lived in, say, Fargo, N.D., would I be changing the guest room linens every seven to 10 days and have a color-coded, password-protected online calendar to schedule visits? I think not.

Now that I have accepted the fact that my own flesh and blood are just looking for somewhere to lay their Florida-sun-kissed heads at night, I do realize how this area can be the ultimate, relaxing escape.

My husband and I are fortunate enough to have traveled to some of the most exotic locations in the world. But as we have said so many times, there are very few places that rival the beauty and quality of life of the little nook of Northwest Florida that we now call home.

The Emerald Coast’s culture is built on genuine hospitality. Residents and visitors enjoy some of the best accommodations, restaurants and services possible. And it is for this very reason that Emerald Coast Magazine salutes the local people, places and things that make this area a cut above the rest with our annual “Best of the Emerald Coast” awards and celebration.

We invite you to join us at this year’s “Best Of” event, which will be held at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort on Saturday, Oct. 20. More than 50 of our 2007 winners will be on hand to share the products and services that put them in this elite category. And the proceeds from the night will benefit the Destin Family YMCA, an organization that is another real winner in our book.

The night promises to be full of fun and surprises, including entertainment and a live auction. For those of us who live here part- or full time, it will remind you why we choose to call the Emerald Coast home.

As for my friends and family, although your cover is blown, don’t worry – the porch light is on.