Designing a Florida Destination Resort

WaterColor Inn in Santa Rosa Beach, FL

The Allure of a Coastal Community
Known for its picturesque coastal views, white-sand beaches and relaxed coastal environment, the community of South Walton’s Water Color in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, offers visitors and residents alike an abundance of pristine sunsets, outdoor recreational activities and award-winning resorts to enjoy throughout the year. Complimented with ideal beach weather, this coastal getaway has become a multigenerational beach destination for those seeking a relaxing time or memorable family vacation.

A Destination Resort
Situated along the Scenic Highway 30 nestled within the South Walton community is the Water Color Inn & Resort. First opened in 2002, this Forbes Four-Star award-winning luxury resort boasts a laid-back comfort feel complete with the modern day luxuries of a boutique hotel. Resort guests are provided an exclusive experience where they can enjoy elegant beachfront guest rooms and suites complete with beach access; family-friendly resort style amenities; and resort dining venues which feature locally sourced menus. Working in tandem with a multi-disciplinary team consisting of architects, engineers, designers and contractors, Wood + Partners served as lead site consultant on the amenities improvements project. This included conceptual master planning, schematic design through construction detailing and construction phase services. Wood + Partners designed the overall vision for their outdoor amenity and pool area to reflect an inviting ambiance that not only exuded vibrant seaside elements, but also complimented the overall essence of the location. With the ultimate goal of enhancing guest and member experience, these amenity improvements inspire coastal elegance while providing a welcoming family-friendly environment.

Design Approach
Given that this was a redevelopment of an existing site, space available for the renovation was limited. The site was constrained between the existing hotel edge and a sensitive dune system on the ocean side, including the Coastal Construction Control Line established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This line limited the development of structures beachside to minimize impact to the dune system. The limited development zone would also impact how pool deck space could be created to provide expanded seating for guests. Because of these constraints, the design took on a linear pattern that utilized a meandering edge. This organic pattern allowed for the creation of gathering nooks within the pool and the ability to create pool deck areas that radiate from the pool edge. This design approach allowed the final design to maintain a loose character that compliments its beach setting while providing a new enhanced member and guest experience.

In an added effort to provide our client with a comprehensive vision of our design, we used detailed graphics and renderings to convey the design intent. These design renderings serve as a valuable tool that offers a visualization and clarity of the project for our clients. They help to express form and function of a finished design, while providing our clients ease in understanding the overall project expectations.

Design Elements
As part of an effort to update the current inn offerings and surrounding amenities, Wood + Partners developed a new resort style pool complete with outdoor environs. These improvements include a new 2,800 square foot resort style pool with features including: a zero entry walk in edge; cantilevered shade umbrella; underwater benches with therapy jets and a meandering wet edge coping. The pool deck was expanded to accommodate more guests and incorporated materials to convey a clean coastal vibe such as light colored concrete pavers with coral stone and exposed sea shell imprints. Pool deck areas adjacent to the dune system incorporated plank style concrete pavers to simulate boardwalk areas adjacent to the beach. A new al fresco bar surrounded by gathering areas was also incorporated as an extension of the bar and restaurant. This allows the interior functions to flow outside and engage with the pool amenity. Exterior gathering areas feature large cabana style daybeds, fire tables, assorted lounge seating options and shade trellis to allow for extended use of the outdoor environment. Site furnishings and seating were also selected to have a simple, clean but contemporary feel and included items such as hose bibs; decorative trench drain and drain basin grates; ADA showers and pool foot wash stations.

Resort Sustainability and Landscape
In maintaining an environmental awareness of our project, sustainable elements were incorporated into the landscape design to ensure a cohesive feel. Plantings that required minimal irrigation were utilized throughout the landscape and included a mix of native and regionally appropriate landscape materials. Plants placed throughout the site included groupings of Sabal Palm trees (Sabal palmetto) to enhance the coastal aesthetics. Additional plants included: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis); Saw Palmettos (Serenoa repens ‘Cinerea’); Dune Sunflower (Helianthus debilis); Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris); Dwarf Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides nana); and Coontie (Zamia pumila) among others.

Neutral colored permeable footpaths wind throughout the site, simultaneously providing connections to the beach while conveying a soft feel and reducing impervious pavements. Decorative lighting meeting wildlife & turtle friendly guidelines included bollards as well down lighting for the site. This particular type of lighting emits a long or absent wavelength amber-colored light to ensure minimal disturbance of local wild life, such as sea turtle nests.

The organic nature of the surrounding landscape along with these amenity improvements inspire coastal elegance while enhancing the overall guest and member experience.