Growing up on the job site in her little pink hard hat with her father, real estate development has always been in Sara Becnel’s blood. Tom Becnel introduced Sara to the business as a young child and she closely watched her father build and develop real estate properties throughout the United States. As she watched and learned, it became pretty clear to Sara early on what she wanted to do when she grew up.
Keeping development in her periphery, Sara went on to college where she obtained her degree in Economics from Rollins College, and then to have a career in retail, working at boutiques, Bloomingdales, and owning her own Verizon Wireless store and then becoming Director of Retail for Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort. As Director of Retail, Sara remodeled and redesigned all of the Sandestin®-owned outlets. Later, she was promoted to Executive Director of the Resort, and set about remodeling properties all throughout- from the simplest bathroom remodel to overseeing a multi-million dollar renovation at Baytowne Conference Center. During this time, Sara also built her own home, working closely with her architect to create a floor plan that is not only functional and efficient, but also comfortable. She selected all materials inside and out herself, including furnishings. She started SLB Renovations and Design, and completed many successful renovations of homes, businesses and properties at Sandestin® Golf & Beach Resort.
After seeing what Sara could accomplish and her immense talents with managing a job site, as well as her keen eye for detail and design, Sara was promoted to Vice President of Development. She provided insight and helped the development of properties like Osprey Pointe, two-, three-, and four-bedroom luxury condominiums located in the heart of Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort. These short-term rental condos were designed for families on vacation, to be comfortable, functional and luxurious. To that end, Sara worked with the design team of her choice to create a custom furniture package for all units and managed the purchasing and installation of said furniture. Finally, with the start of Osprey Pointe, Sara had realized her childhood dream of becoming a real estate developer and working with her father, Tom.
The two of them together create what each apart could not, and complement each other’s strengths and fill in each other’s holes. They started planning the development of Hotel Effie together, a 250-room luxury hotel located on the shoreline of the Choctawhatchee Bay, also inside the gates of Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort. Tom said while building the hotel took a team effort, his daughter Sara, “is probably the person most responsible for the success of this hotel. She was involved from the beginning. She took on a yeoman’s task to coordinate all of the subcontractors and all of the efforts, but almost more importantly, she is the one person who is responsible for the interior finishes and the design, which make it special in my opinion.” The hotel just celebrated it’s one-year anniversary and has proven to be the place to see and be seen in South Walton. Hotel Effie features ample conference space, a signature restaurant led by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, a luxury spa, fitness center and the only hotel rooftop pool and lounge in the area.
Combining their talents once again, Sara and Tom Becnel’s current project is sure to be the most sought after luxury residential development Northwest Florida has ever seen. With Sara’s eye for detail, her thoughtful design, and penchant for opulence, The Cascade will soar 24 stories above the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, boasting three- and four-bedroom condominiums, four of which are ultra chic penthouse units. The natural beauty of the surrounding resort combined with the coastal elegance of the Gulf of Mexico brings luxury living and perfect balance to residents of all ages.