Publisher's Letter

Leadership Collaborates and The Star is Born

By Brian Rowland, Publisher

About 18 months ago, the economy’s softening began to make itself more evident along the Emerald Coast through changes in the current and forecasted occupancy rates of the hotels and resorts throughout the region. At the time, the leadership of the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Howard Group, the Marriott properties and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort strategically formed a new organization — the Sandestination Alliance.

The new group’s goal and purpose was to combine resources to market the destination as a whole, so that all involved will benefit from an increase in guests coming to this area for leisure and business.

Dollars were pooled, a national consultant was put on retainer, a Web site was launched — and so began the long-term process of gaining a return on this investment of brainpower and resources.

Rowland Publishing launched the Sandestin Globe in late 2004 and successfully produced this resort paper for 4 ½ years. With the new alliance, Laurie Hobbs — the director of public relations for Sandestin — and I discussed developing a new publication devoted to telling the story of the alliance members and promoting the many events and amenities unique to each.

So, 120 days later, with a lot of cooperation and focus, the new Sandestination Star was launched last month. The paper now begins its bimonthly journey to help promote the members and win over the loyal patronage of local and out-of-town guests.

I want to salute the leadership of the Sandestination Alliance for this wise investment and pooling of resources. This creative move will be instrumental in economic recovery for the properties individually and as a whole, thus helping the local economy and the people who make their living in the resort, retail and restaurant business.

Collaboration among competitive entities was and is a brilliant way to be proactive, to find the economic solution and hasten the recovery process.

The opportunity and challenge is for this to continue when prosperity returns to the resort economy. By doing so, the strengths of this alliance will carry forward through the ups and downs of the economic cycles that will certainly come.

I would also like to remind our readers that one of the best events of the year is happening on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Destin Commons. For the 10th year — and the second time co-hosting with Destin Commons — Emerald Coast Magazine presents the “Best Of the Emerald Coast” event to benefit the charitable efforts of the Junior League of the Emerald Coast.

If you have never been, plan to. Your ticket ($25 in advance, $35 at the door) will have you strolling the main street of Destin Commons enjoying a smorgasbord of great food and libations. While sampling the fare of the best restaurants in the area, you will also have the opportunity to visit more than 80 booths hosted by the merchants who were designated by you as the best of the best in 2009. And for the holiday bargain hunter, there will be a plethora of silent auction items available to bid on.

It is all for a great cause. You’ll have a fabulous time and you’ll leave knowing that your ticket purchase was one of the best investments you made in 2009.

Check out the ad inside this issue for the details. We hope you will come out and help us celebrate the best that the Emerald Coast has to offer.