Imagine a wedding venue steeped in Destin history yet showcased in modern coastal beach style. This is what Mike Shoults of Southern Rentals & Real Estate pictured over two years ago when he began planning Cottages by the Bay.
Shoult’s plan has now become a reality. The six-cottage short-term rental property that sits between 118 Calhoun Avenue and 109 Sibert Avenue perfectly accompanies his family’s popular wedding venue, The Bay House in Destin.
“We are offering a Destin wedding experience,” Shoults said. “What we envision is a three-night stay, complete with ceremony and reception at the Bay House.”
Shoults said that the idea is that the entire wedding party, as well as the family of the bride and groom, can stay on the 2-acre cottage property and enjoy the relaxed old-town Destin atmosphere in the days leading up to the wedding. He added that The Bay House and Cottages by the Bay together can offer an all-inclusive wedding package for the ultimate destination wedding.
“We are thinking of this in terms of everybody being together,” said Shoults. “What we are trying to do is not only attract customers from out of town for weddings, but also corporate retreats and family reunions; that’s what we envision it becoming.”
Shoults said when planning Cottages by the Bay, he and his family wanted to ensure that the development stayed true to its historic Destin roots.
“It’s a family operation,” he said. “We wanted to keep that fishing village cottage feel. That’s important to us as long-time Destin residents. It’s not a high-rise, it’s not a condo. We are really trying to be good stewards of the community with all this.”
In fact, Shoults said that all of the cottages on the property are renovated one-story buildings that utilize pre-existing structures, some of which date back to the early 1930s.
“We are proud to be the next owners of this special property, following in the paths of some iconic Destin families,” Shoults said.
As for the cottages themselves, Shoults said after extensive renovations, and hand-picked décor by his wife Nancy, he is pleased with the outcome.
“All of the cottages are fully furnished, have full kitchens, updated systems, beautiful bathrooms and even have laundry facilities,” she said. “Every bed is a king-sized bed except for one room in the largest cottage that has four twin beds and the built-in bunks that we put in one cottage. All are a little bit different and all have their own characteristics.”
Erin Hadaway, Shoult’s daughter and general manager of the property, added that the cottages have unique names, given according to the back story of each historical home.
“The name Humble and Kind was very specifically chosen by my dad,” she said. “He really likes the song 'Humble and Kind' by Tim McGraw. Family Traditions was chosen for the big house because we imagined families staying there. And Peace and Tranquility were named because we kind of imagined that this property will bring that to people — it’s very peaceful and calming.”
Three more cottages — Something Blue, Better Together and Love Letter — complete the property, which can accommodate up to 46 occupants. Shoults noted that they may add more cottages to the property in the future.