Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, has received a 2020 Phoenix Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). The park was described by the SATW as “an international showcase for environmental and economic sustainability as it demonstrates best practices for outdoor recreation, education and hospitable accommodations.”

The award is given annually to destinations showcasing responsible, sustainable tourism, including conservation, preservation, beautification, and anti-pollution efforts and was first awarded in 1969. Gulf State Park was honored alongside sites in Jalisco State, Mexico; Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China; and Greenville, South Carolina.

Improvements to Gulf State Park were included in Phase III Early Restoration and the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group’s first restoration plan. Collectively, along with the rebuilding of the Gulf State Park Lodge and Conference Center, these projects added:

  • 50 acres of dune restoration 
  • An interpretive center carrying a LEED Platinum certification
  • A research and education center 
  • 9.5 miles of trails
  • Numerous other public access amenities to the 6,500 acre park

The success of the sustainability of these project elements was showcased recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally.  The restored dunes served to protect both habitat and man-made structures (including the Lodge) from any significant damage from the hurricane. In addition, the Lodge is:

  • Certified under the FORTIFIED Commercial resiliency program for its design and ability to withstand adverse coastal conditions, emerged from the storm with only a few minor areas of cosmetic damage.
  • Holds both LEED Gold and SITES Platinum certifications and received accolades for its use of the most up-to-date technology in amber LED lighting for the protection of nesting and hatchling sea turtles.