What’s New on Alabama’s Gulf

Grand New

Last summer, the Grand Hotel in Point Clear  finished a giant three-year transformation. There’s something for everyone, from daily activities that range from art classes to children’s scavenger hunts, to golfing, water sports and a 20,000-square-foot European-style spa. The massive pool features many functions, including a shallow pool with waterfall and slide for the kids and an adult salt-water pool with stocked cabanas. For golf enthusiasts, the 18-hole, 72-par Dogwood course, part of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, has been updated and the Azalea course is up next for restoration. The resort also offers a private beach with nightly cannon fire (harking back to the hotel’s 19th century days and naval history) and a multi-slip marina..

There are several restaurants on site, including a poolside grill and lobby market. Be sure to sample the extensive and luxurious breakfast buffet at Bayside Grill, as well as cocktails in Bucky’s Lounge and sunset dining in the 1847 and Southern Roots.

History buffs will enjoy a walk to historic Confederate Rest Cemetery about a mile from the resort and located next to the Dogwood golf course and the Lakewood Clubhouse. About 300 soldiers who were nursed at the hotel during the Civil War are buried here. Meet the Grand’s historian Susan Stein in the hotel lobby and get a history lesson before heading out.

Summer at the Wharf

This summer you can find something special going on at The Wharf in Gulf Shores any night of the week.

Monday there is the Sparks After Dark on Main Street fireworks display. Set up on Main Street for the best vantage point of the fiery skies, and keep your eyes peeled for Starla the Starfish and Baby Shark as they strut along the street during the display. Experience the snap, crackle, and pop of color all summer long.

Tuesday is Kids Night at Palm Plaza next to the Ferris Wheel. DJ Josh provides the music and there is face painting, games, a bouncy house, a water slide, and much more. Every Tuesday will be a little different with varying themes to keep the excitement fresh, including a Toxic Battle Zone and live animals.

Check in at the Pepsi tent in Marlin Circle and then get ready to treasure hunt along Main Street every Wednesday. Get a treasure map and the search is on. There is a Spectra Sound and Light Spectacular and plenty of family memories.

On Thursdays, the Big Top comes to The Wharf with Circus on Main with sideshow entertainers, fire acts, aerial performers and stilt walkers, along with magicians and balloon animal makers.

“Dancin’ in the Street” takes over on Friday and Saturday nights with a block party along Main Street.

On Sundays bring out your inner artist at Palm Plaza next to the Ferris Wheel for painting classes starting at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. There is a $10 fee.

Summer Concerts at The Wharf Amphitheatre

Here’s the lineup for a big summer of concerts at The Wharf Amphitheatre:

June 6, 2019: Hootie and the Blowfish in Concert With Special Guest: Barenaked Ladies

June 15, 201: Dierks Bentley in Concert With Special Guest: Jon Pardi, Tenille Townes, and Hot Country Knights

July 3, 201: Tedeschi Trucks Band in Concert With Special Guest: Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope

July 5, 2019: Rascal Flatts in Concert With Special Guest: Jimmie Allen

July 6, 2019: Muscadine Bloodline in Concert @ The Port

July 19 and 20, 2019: Luke Bryan in Concert With Special Guest: Cole Swindell, Jon Langston, and DJ Rock

August 17, 2019: Little Big Town in Concert With Special Guest: Midland

August 20, 2019: Pentatonix in Concert With Special Guest: Rachel Platten

August 22, 2019: Brad Paisley in Concert With Special Guest: Chris Lane and Riley Green

August 31, 2019: Chris Stapleton in Concert With Special Guest: Brent Cobb and The Marcus King Band

September 28, 2019: Lynyrd Skynyrd in Concert With Special Guest: Cody Jinks

The Sustainable Lodge

The Lodge at Gulf State Park is the first full service hotel to open in the area in 20 years. It is a premier meetings and events destination, offering a wide array of indoor and outdoor event space, perfect for conferences, special occasions and gatherings of any size. Under the management of Valor Hospitality Partners, the new Lodge operates with a focused commitment to the sustainability and preservation of the coastline, environment, wildlife and fauna of the Park and the region.

This new, re-imagined hotel was designed by LakeFlato and Rabun Architects with a native landscape by Sasaki Associates. The building footprint was reduced by nearly one-third and set back by 200-225 feet from the Gulf to allow for greater dune restoration and natural dune movement. The buildings are positioned to take advantage of gulf breezes for natural ventilation and to maximize natural lighting of the interior. This design reduces energy use by 32 percent and interior water use by 35 percent. To demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment, this facility has targeted some of the most rigorous sustainability goals in the hospitality industry: LEED© Gold, SITES© Platinum, and FORTIFIED Commercial ™ certifications.

The interior design is focused around a contemporary coastal aesthetic and was inspired by the hotel’s surrounding environment and the history of the former Lodge. This concept was brought to life by Dallas based interior design firm, Looney & Associates. Their design incorporates color, texture, and contrast to create comforting spaces that seamlessly transition from outdoor to indoor space while maintaining high levels of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

A small sampling of the hotel’s sustainability initiatives includes:

Eco-friendly construction: The hotel was constructed to meet the elevated standards of LEED © Gold, SITES © Platinum, and FORTIFIED Commercial™ certifications. Fifteen percent of building materials are recycled materials and 70–75 percent of construction waste was recycled. Responsible Water Sourcing and Routing: Condensation from the HVAC system is collected and recycled to replace water in the pool. Additionally, rainwater is collected and directed to a restored wetland on site rather than being diverted to storm sewers. The hotel also features a permeable parking lot using TrueGrid technology that allows rainwater to drain into the ground. Wildlife Conscious Features: Lighting is designed with local wildlife in mind. All lighting is shielded away from turtle nesting areas and pointed away from the beach. Lights on the beachside of the property are warmer to be less confusing to wildlife and floor to ceiling glass windows in the main lobby have bird friendly safety measures. Energy Conservation: Guest room air conditioning units were installed with sensors that cut off the unit if balcony doors or windows are left open or ajar, and the full hotel is equipped with energy efficient lighting with motion sensors to reduce waste. Restorative Landscaping: Approximately 75 percent of the site is dedicated to landscaping using native species that can thrive without irrigation, chemical pesticides or fertilizers. By planting native species, the coastal landscape is restored, and habitats have been created for native birds, nesting sea turtles and the Alabama Beach Mouse. Food and Waste Reduction: The hotel team recycles all cooking oil and sorts trash into separate bins for composting, animal feed, recycling and more. The hotel also uses plant-based water bottles, Hay Straws ® and straws made from reusable bamboo shoots, all of which are biodegradable and made from abundant resources. Conscientious Menus: The Lodge participates in the Zero Single Serve Initiative, which promotes discontinuing single serve items to guests and practices local sourcing and invasive species fish harvesting to help eliminate non-indigenous saltwater species from the Gulf.

Further down the Gulf

This may be a good year to make some discoveries further down the Gulf coast line. Try St. Pete Beach for a change. TradeWinds Island Resorts — two beach resorts on 31 acres of the soft white sands of Florida’s St. Pete Beach, have been rated a top 10 USA beach for five years running by TripAdvisor

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