THE GULF COAST HAS GONE GREEN
By Roxane Sebastien-Eskan
REST, RELAX & UNWIND. Those
were my instructions on a welcome card upon arrival to my hotel @ The Watercolor Inn in Santa Rosa Beach,
Florida. In fact, I felt a
substantial release from the big city life as I began my drive from the
airport to my destination. There
is an immediate relinquishment in the air of the area whether is night or
day which in my case, I arrived in the evening.
The transport from the
to Santa Rosa
is around one hour. Arriving
at the Watercolor Inn was a most pleasant experience as the façade has a
warm, welcoming atmosphere along with an upper scale touch beyond the
expectation of what an “
” may personify. Of course,
the southern hospitality exudes immediately upon entering.
I was particularly anxious about my room and upon entering; I was
embraced with modern amenities, beach resort interior mixed w/ elegance.
Opening the balcony door, I was enthralled with the sound of the
southern gulf water shoreline in the darkness of the evening –
slowly arousing my senses as the moonlight reflected off the water
“Fish out of Water” a
restaurant at the Watercolor Inn offers an ocean view with an all organic
menu!! All the
vegetables and fruits are certified organic and cultivating from the
surrounding area. The St.
Joe Company and their approach to development and life style has an
ecological theme which is being spread throughout the State of
Florida. The St. Joe Company is the
largest private landowner and developer in
Florida. The specific
area St. Joe Company is developing is called the
known for its emerald blues and greens of the
Gulf of Mexico
and its sugar white beaches. Furthermore,
the inner most beauty of
County’s landscape, timbers, native flowers and animals make it second to
What is most unique to this area are the Coastal
. These lakes were formed
between two and ten thousand years ago.
Coastal winds and flowing tides have kept these water havens safe.
They are separated from the gulf with expansive dune systems
ranging from ten feet to a majestic 30 feet in height.
However, many of these lakes often create meandering passages of
water that find a way to the Gulf. This
unusual phenomenon allows salt water and fresh water to continually
exchange and flush out the lakes creating some of the most distance
ecosystems in the world.
is the only county to have all their beaches Blue Wave certified by the
Clean Beaches Council.
The following morning, I had breakfast in the gracious Gathering Room
right off the entrance. The
overall atmosphere of the
represents the South on the beach at its finest – cool, clean, intimate
and charming. I then indulged
myself for a massage at Water Color Spa which is just steps from the guest
rooms and the beach. In
addition to running resorts, St. Joe Company is involved with commercial
and industrial development, land sales and commercial real estate
services. The resort itself
has over 1,000 residences with shared community parks, conservations
areas, and recreational amenities. Located
which is in south
, Water Color encompasses 499 acres with 1,400 linear feet of sugar-white
beachfront. What is so
spectacular is the town that has been created with fresh new stores,
restaurants, offices and parks all within walking distance for the
and/or the residences. The
amenities are endless including boogie boards, kayaks, surfing,
volleyball, and snorkel equipment. There
is an adult and large family pool area with many activities for young and
old. For adults, yoga, Pilates
and personalized training is offered. Outdoor
activities include sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and fishing.
For cardio exercise, there is tennis, hiking and biking along the
extensive woodland trails within Water Color.
Water Color Market is a great stop for gourmet food and wine,
delicious breakfasts, lunches and box lunches.
Adjacent to the market are a myriad of shops as well as a photo
is designed by renowned architect
Rockwell. Each room has beach
views, private balconies, a king bed with queen sleeper sofa. The Rotunda
King suites offer sitting areas with sweeping 180 degree views.
To complement the calm and peaceful surroundings, there are night time
activities available near the hotel. On
this trip I had the opportunity to visit Cerulean’s, a small quaint
night club which was walking distance from the
Inn. Cerulean offered a blend of
culture from the Gulf
area reflected in the local Blue Grass music playing and sophisticated
animal print chair décor. Cerulean
provides a nice venue for local artists to display their artwork while the
club fills the air with indigenous music of the area. The
next morning I was off to see another St. Joe development, Wind Mark, in
Wind Mark Beach about an hour east of Water Color.
This is truly an area that feels as though time has stood still.
Having left the South 21 years ago, I would expect some changes and
while there are big changes in the way of development, the overall
lifestyle remains. The plans
and investment interest is very high with and absorption rate from around
eight to ten years. Port St.
Joe will experience a metamorphosis from a historically rich, sleepy
coastal community, which has struggled to establish and maintain a solid
and sustainable economic model, to a warm and inviting community of homes
and office and retail space welcoming home visitors and property owners. Complete
with a 150 room hotel overlooking the bay, the newly crafted Port St. Joe
mixed-use community plans to co-mingle residential, retail, and government
facilities surrounded by green space.
No detail has been overlooked including a new 50-wet-slip and
300-dry-slip marina, an open plaza on the water, and a farmers’ market.
is three-and-a-half-mile in length and offers views of the Bay, the
Gulf of Mexico
. A deceptively simple
architectural element, the beach walk being designed at WindMark will
enhance and define the experience of WindMark
by providing an outdoor healthy hard-surface trail for golf carts,
bicycles, and roller blades. WindMark
will be anchored by a
with shops, market, spa and fitness center, meeting hall, ice cream &
coffee shop, and the “
” restaurant. A 28-room
boutique hotel, “The Little Inn WindMark Beach” will be available for
shorter stays. The entire
project features and focuses on a number of boardwalks which all lead to
the beach, eliminating the need for automobiles.
The average home price and living space for a variety of different
models (3 and 4 bedroom) is currently around $1,300,000 and 2,800 square
feet respectively. A
concern one might have of the Gulf
in general are the hurricanes which wrecked havoc in 2005.
However, there doesn’t appear to be a mass exodus happening and
the region is deep rooted with a passion for living in the Gulf .
On the other hand, an exciting development is taking place due to
enhance the area’s infrastructure –
Airport. As the first project of its
kind in the State, the St. Joe Company has donated 4,000 acres towards the
building of the Airport which will protect the natural environment and
conservation of the area. Rest,
relax and unwind is pretty much a guarantee in this lovely Gulf coast
region and a highly seductive enticement to touch all one’s senses and
feed the soul.