The Pearl Hotel and WaterColor Inn & Resort Earn Forbes' Four-Star Ratings

May 31, 2022 by SoWal Staff

 The Pearl Hotel and WaterColor Inn & Resort have each earned Four-Star Ratings in Forbes Travel Guide’s 2022 Star Awards - The Pearl Hotel has received this award every year since 2015, and WaterColor Inn & Resort has received this recognition each year since 2013.

Forbes Travel Guide (“FTG”) is the only global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas. Both of our local hotels are showcased on here: and here:

“The Forbes Star ratings set a very high standard, and I’m extremely proud of our staff for the hard work they do to create top-tier guest experiences that warrant these types of accolades,” says Dave Merryman, GM of the Pearl Hotel. “Only three hotels on the entire Florida Gulf Coast qualified for the rating this year, so we’re in some very exclusive company, indeed.”

“We’re excited to have earned this recognition,” agrees Gabrielle Testa, GM of WaterColor Inn & Resort. “To continue to reach this level of excellence, even while we are in the midst of a renovation that’s going to ensure we will continue to exceed guests’ expectations for years to come, is a testament to the hospitality professionals on our team.”

Forbes Travel Guide is the world-renowned authority in genuine hospitality service ratings, and The St. Joe Company is proud that these two properties have again been recognized on Forbes’ illustrious annual Star Rating list.

“Travel has come back strongly, and the resilient hospitality industry is creatively rallying to accommodate the increased occupancy demand for most regions,” says Hermann Elger, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “While the industry faces some lingering issues, the 2022 award winners proved ready for those challenges and more, demonstrating the best that luxury hospitality has to offer.”

About The Pearl Hotel
Opened as an upscale coastal retreat in Rosemary Beach in 2013, the 55-room boutique hotel received a comprehensive design refresh in 2022 andhas elegant, modern accommodations and amenities. Guest of the hotel enjoy a AAA Four Diamond restaurant, a poolside spa and a central, walkable location with access to the neighborhood’s private beach. From the cocktail greeting at check-in and complimentary valet to the hand-delivered, freshly baked treat at bedtime, every detail is made to feel especially created for each guest. Just as its name implies, The Pearl is truly the jewel of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The Pearl is a stylish melding of old and new. The stately exterior smartly accented with bold black and white awnings, a clock tower and turrets gives way to a contemporary coastal design inside. Personal touches of Southern hospitality are found in the complimentary sparkling wine offered upon arrival and a refrigerator stocked with double-filtered water, soda and juices in the rooms. Just steps from The Pearl Hotel are nearly a dozen casual and fine-dining restaurants and specialty boutique shops. A stay at this Four-Star hotel affords you private beach access with lounge chair set-up and even a personal service to provide your own beach bonfire. A wide variety of outdoor activities are available to you as well, from golfing to biking, nature trail hiking and watersports (kayaking, canoeing and paddle boating).

The Pearl Hotel offers you a host of complimentary off-site resort amenities through St. Joe Hospitality. Private dining, weddings, special events and business meetings (up to 250 people) can be staged in three flexible meeting spaces that open out onto the first-floor patio. A 1938 mug shot of a 23-year-old Frank Sinatra hangs over the piano bar at Havana Beach Bar & Grill. The charge against him, it says, was “seduction.”

Each of the 55 guest rooms — 41 standard rooms, nine suites, four cabana rooms and The Pearl penthouse suite (which has the best vista from the clock tower) — is bright, open and inviting. Crisp fine linens, plush terry robes, convenient Keurig coffee makers and LATHER toiletries are just the beginning of the upscale in-room amenities. Guest rooms with private balconies have views of either the gracious Gulf, the quaint town or the pretty pool area lined with black-and-white cabanas. All rooms also are equipped with mini-fridges stocked with complimentary sodas, juices and double-filtered Nordaq FRESH water.

Inspired by El Floridita, one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts in old-town Havana, Havana Beach Bar & Grill is a place with swagger. Havana Beach is the perfect place to perch while enjoying an array of handcrafted cocktails, craft beers and fine wines that complement the chef’s Cuban-Caribbean-inspired dishes. Expect fare like Hemingway shrimp and grits, a wagyu burger with Boursin cheese and candied peppered bacon, and King’s Table organic jerk chicken with Carolina Gold rice and Caribbean pepper slaw. A sense of celebration permeates at Havana Beach Rooftop Lounge, a colorful rooftop cabana bar and eatery that features live music and activities (in season).

About WaterColor Inn & Resort
Nestled within a 500-acre community boasting 1,400 feet of sugar-white sand beachfront and bordered by picturesque pine forests alongside Western Lake, WaterColor Inn is the flagship of South Walton’s WaterColor community and a beloved multigenerational beach tradition for those traveling to Scenic 30A. As the only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond beachfront hotel in Northwest Florida, WaterColor Inn perfectly captures the spirit of an elevated beach getaway, while offering everything needed for a fun, family vacation. Guests can relax and enjoy Southern hospitality served in the ambiance of a comfortable and Gulf-inspired resort. Additionally, thanks to newly expanded amenities at the adjacent WaterColor Beach Club and nearby Camp WaterColor, WaterColor Inn guests are provided with an extravagance of family-friendly resort amenities, outdoor recreation and dining options, making it the ultimate destination for a family beach vacation on 30A. For more information, visit 

Still gleaming from recent renovations that brought fresh paint and panache to the property, the luxury hotel smiles at you with gray-blue hues in the library, whitewashed floors in the bathrooms and colorful acrylics from Justin Gaffrey on stairway walls.  All of the guest rooms on the first four floors feature approximately 500 square feet of living space, either king-size beds and queen-size pullout sleeper sofas or double queen-size beds, spa-style bathrooms and furnished patios or balconies. The only difference in these rooms is the view. The resort has a cottage style throughout. The roof in the lobby has a painted wood ceiling with exposed white beams. Guest rooms also have white beadboard wainscoting and coastal blue color schemes. FOOW is the re-envisioned family-style restaurant serving coastal cuisine at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can get your feet beach-ready with a pedicure or soothe tired muscles with a massage at InnSpa, located just steps from your guest room.

Not only is the resort right on the beach, but the property is also next to the untouched dunes of Grayton Beach State Park and just a half a mile bike ride to Seaside and its dining and shopping. In addition to the bike paths along Scenic 30A, the hotel spans over 400 acres with biking and walking trails. Complimentary bikes are available to all guests to explore the area. While staying at the resort, the staff will remember your name and where you are from while keeping a discreet eye on making sure your stay goes smoothly.

In the guest rooms, couches and chairs are plush and homey, creating a comfortable and cozy retreat for unwinding. Soft colors of blues and greens foster a calm atmosphere. Coastal-themed paintings throughout the resort and glass sculptures that reflect the Gulf Coast give the resort a unique vibe. Complementing the beach cottage feel of the property, elements throughout have a vintage character but always with a clean modern feel, like the large rustic table with a checkerboard design in the lobby.

With views of the beach and the shimmering emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the resort’s signature restaurant, FOOW Fish Out Of Water, has a new look, making it much more approachable for families. The food, though, is the real treat with a menu featuring fish (line-caught grouper), local delicacies (fresh Gulf oysters), proteins (sweet tea chicken) and produce (veggie quinoa bowl). At The Gathering Spot, enjoy a laidback lounge setting with mounted flat-screen televisions, small plates and handcrafted cocktails.



SoWal Staff's picture

Offering news, features, insider tips & info, photos and video all across the South Walton area.

Add comment
Are you a human?
5 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.