In late 2013, The Hilton Sandestin Golf Resort and Spa in Destin, FL, underwent a five-month, multi-million-dollar renovation of the lobby and public space, restaurants, guest rooms and spa.

The new main lobby features beach-inspired sculptures and floor-to-ceiling windows which boast beautiful views of Florida’s Emerald Coast.

“Our design intent for this renovation was to evoke tranquil elements of the coast using an artful mix of chic style and relaxed charm,” said Julianne Cary of interior architecture firm Looney & Associates, who worked on the renovation. “With finishes such as cerused woods, natural stone and tiles, there is a casually sophisticated palette throughout the hotel.”

In the lobby, five slabs of polished green onyx with a thickness of 2 cm were used to face the front desk, bell stand and concierge area. The onyx was supplied by Pacific Shore Stones and installed by Premier Surfaces.

“The slabs of green onyx were hand-selected by the owners of Pacific Shore Stones in Italy,” said Rachel Potter of Pacific Shore Stones. The exotic-looking onyx is paired with countertops fabricated from Absolute Black granite with a honed finish.

“The onyx was chosen for its unique range of color and movement,” said Hayden Benton of Looney & Associates. “The emerald tones are reminiscent of the emerald waters that are unique to the Gulf of Mexico and provide a memorable pop of color for the front entry of the hotel. Most of the finishes in this space are serene neutrals — from the warm gray tile and cerused wood beams to the sand white painted walls. This provided a sophisticated backdrop for cheerful accents such as the colorful artwork, furnishings and the onyx desks.”

As with any large project, the team faced several obstacles along the way. “The challenges with the green onyx application were to find the right look while staying within budget, and then sourcing the stone with the fitting supplier,” said Stacy Metz of Looney & Associates. “We explored several options with the contractor and property owners and finally came to an agreeable and successful solution.”

During the actual installation process, the team at Premier Surfaces took great care in the handling of the material, and the process took about three to four hours. The stone was set with silicone and color-matched epoxy. In order to accommodate the time frames requested by hotel management, Premier Surfaces used two of their three fabrication facilities to minimize the fabrication time.

However, aspects of the installation process proved to be challenging. “Onyx is always a great stone to fabricate because when installed well, it is one of the most beautiful stones to work with,” said Kris Kelough of Premier Surfaces. “With that being said, it also has its own unique challenges when fabricating and handling the stone. Some of the challenges faced included making sure to use the correct blades for the material, not running the waterjet due to fear of blowouts or at least increased chipping and keeping slurry off the surface so as to not scratch the tops. Using the proper glues was also very important to avoid bleeding.”

In the end, the team’s hard work paid off. The renovation has been very well received by both visitors and staff and the new design has provided a more modern and refreshing atmosphere for the resort overall.             


Hilton Sandest in Golf Resort and Spa

Destin, FL

Architect: Looney & Associates, Dallas, TX

Stone Supplier: Pacific Shore Stones, Austin, TX (onyx)

Stone Fabricator/Installer: Premier Surfaces, Atlanta, GA