WaterColor Inn & Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The WaterColor Inn & Resort is reminiscent of its name, with beach-y whites, blues, and light greens dominating the color scheme throughout the luxurious lobby and rooms. The inn offers an airy and relaxing atmosphere, and sits right on a beautiful private beach. It's part of a larger resort community that's packed with amenities, including four restaurants, seven pools (including a designated "quiet pool"), water sports, bike rentals, a top-notch spa, and a long wooden pathway leading to the beach. But the rooms here may be the highlight, particularly for those on a romantic trip: Beachy decor, updated amenities, and bathrooms with his and hers sinks and huge walk-in showers make the rooms feel luxe yet comfortable. Many rooms also have patios and/or balconies with ocean views.
Margaritaville Beach Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The first hotel to open under the Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel offers a relaxed, tropical atmosphere right on a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline. The hotel's white and blue color palette, wicker furnishings, and palm trees add to the beachy atmosphere, as do the seasonal live entertainment, and a poolside Tiki bar. Rooms are sophisticated, romantic, and airy with huge balconies, flat-screen TVs, and free Internet. The sweeping views of the white sand beach and Gulf of Mexico, viewable throughout the property and from the sleek outdoor pool, are a highlight. This hotel lacks the spa that the WaterColor Inn has, but otherwise it's up to par -- and its smaller size gives it a more intimate feel.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach is a pretty, sprawling property with a total of 1,600 rooms. But just because it's huge and appeals mostly to families doesn't mean it isn't also a great pick for romance. Organized like a little town that can be broken down into four resorts and 30 separate neighborhoods, loding options range from cozy hotel rooms to spacious villas and all feature upscale decor with romantic touches. In addition to a village and market full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, this resort is brimming with recreational activities: Couples may enjoy the spa the most, but the resort also features 19 pools (some of which are particularly serene), direct access to seven miles of pristine beach, a 98-slip marina, and four golf courses.
Portofino Island Resort & Spa Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Portofino Island Resort and Spa offers a total of five Mediterranean-inspired towers with two- and three-bedroom condo units. All rooms have balconies with great views over the beaches to the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Rosa Sound. Convenient perks in the condos include fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryers. Each tower has its own outdoor pool and the resort offers a long list of water and land sports, as well as a free dolphin cruise and a floating water park. While there is no direct beach access -- the beach is across a street -- this resort does offer spa services, a total of three restaurants, and free Wi-Fi.
Carillon Beach Inn Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Carillon Beach Inn is a 70-room, all-suite property with modern furnishings and sharp decor located on Lake Carillon in a sprawling, village-like resort complex. While the location doesn't offer direct beach access, the sand is less than a five-minute walk away, and guests get access to the many amenities of the Carillon Beach resort community. Suites are immaculately clean and comfortable with kitchenettes featuring stainless steel appliances. Cute, playful touches include sand dollar and fish-patterned pillows and chairs. Some suites have lovely fireplaces and outdoor private whirlpools, while all are equipped with flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. While there are few options for nearby off-site dining, Sweet Taste Wine Bar is located within the property.