Waiting on Go
Anticipation surrounding Camp Creek improvements grows
David Merryman surveys the amenities nearing completion adjacent to The St. Joe Company’s Camp Creek Golf Course in South Walton and can all but hear children splashing in the lazy river, weekend athletes grunting in the midst of a half-court basketball game and pickleball players congratulating one another on good shots.
“These are exciting times,” Merryman said Monday, noting the installation of landscaping taking place and anticipating the availability of the amenities to Watersound Club members sometime this spring. “We have aerial photos taken and two days later, they’re out of date because something new has been added.”
Also under construction is the 75-room Camp Creek Inn, which will offer sweeping views of the golf course from one side and will overlook pools and other activities venues on the other. Guests of the inn will enjoy access to those amenities — and the Watersound Beach Club on the Gulf — along with the members of the Watersound Club.
The combined cost of the amenities and the Camp Creek Inn is approximately $50 million, according to David Demarest, the St. Joe Company’s director of public relations.
Guest rooms will occupy the second floor of the Camp Creek Inn. The first floor will be dedicated to the golf course’s pro shop and two dining options — the casual 1936 restaurant and the more upscale ANR. Both names relate to the history of the St. Joe Company, which was established in 1936 and owned the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, which figured in its timber operations.
The list of new amenities is long and includes eight Har-Tru, green clay tennis courts, eight pickleball courts; a 12,000-square-foot fitness center with steam room and sauna; adult and family-friendly pools; grass fields; a basketball court; a game room for children and teens; and a poolside BBQ dining venue, Bark ’n’ Brine, whose rustic flooring conjures images of a Wild West saloon. A golf performance center offering the latest in swing analysis technologies opened in April 2021.
The company estimates that the overall project will create 150 new jobs and set new standards of excellence.
“We want to be the best of the best,” said Merryman, who for six years was the manager of St. Joe’s award-winning Pearl Hotel and for 20 years worked in the hospitality industry in Charleston, South Carolina. “You don’t go to the Olympics to win a bronze medal.”
Merryman said the “intentional” design of the inn/amenities, a product of thoughtful research, sets Camp Creek apart from its competition.
“We have applied lessons from all that we have done at The Pearl and the Watersound Beach Club,” Merryman said. “And we studied what other destinations do very well. We asked ourselves, ‘What feelings do they inspire?’”
Merryman said the Camp Creek improvements are meant to fit within a “local frame of reference.” The inn, he said, represents a “Gulf coastal look that pays homage to New Orleans.”
Stopping by a waterslide that empties into the lazy river, Merryman commented, “Yup, I can’t wait to go down that thing. It makes me wish I were younger and smaller again.”
About the amenities, generally, he said, “I think our members and guests are going to be very pleased.”
“People are chomping at the bit,” added Demarest.