resort faqs

What is The Watermarke Resort & Club project?

  • The Watermarke Resort & Club, or The Watermarke, will be a private boutique resort and club situated on approximately 43 acres in Vilano Beach, just north of St. Augustine, Fla.
  • The resort itself will be built on only a portion of the 17 acres of upland, leaving the remaining 26 acres as permanent conservation land.
  • The Watermarke will offer a maximum of 170 guest rooms, including 120 traditional hotel rooms and 50 additional suites located in villas centrally located on the property.
  • Amenities at The Watermarke will include pools and cabanas, casual and more formal restaurants, a spa and fitness center, a ballroom and meeting spaces, family recreational space and gift shops for resort guests and members.
  • The property address is 3455 Coastal Highway, St. Augustine, Fla., 32084.
  • The website address is

Why is The Watermarke Team proposing a resort instead of a residential development?

  • This unique Coastal Highway site, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, is an ideal location for a project of this nature. The Watermarke Team is proposing a private boutique resort that will have a smaller building footprint than the currently approved 79-unit residential development and which will allow for maximum preservation of the site’s scenic wetlands and uplands.
  •  The Watermarke will also provide the following benefits over a residential development:
    • Significantly less traffic
    • Significantly less density
    • Improved emergency evacuation
    • Less impact on the surrounding environment
    • Increased sales and bed tax revenue, and new jobs to the area
    • Zero impact on schools, parks and related infrastructure
    • Increased customer base to accelerate the development of the Vilano Beach Town Center

What does the County Commission need to approve? Will this open the door for future commercialization of the Coastal Highway area?

  • Under the current Future Land Use Map designation for the property, Residential C, there are a number of commercial uses already allowed on the site. 
  • The Watermarke Team is asking for a Future Land Use Map designation change from Residential C to Residential D, with the only difference in the two being the inclusion of “hotels, motels and club facilities.”
  • The Watermarke Team is including a Text Amendment with the Comprehensive Plan Amendment which specifies that the requested change in the Future Land Use Map to Residential D is only for this proposed private resort project. This protects the residents of Vilano Beach by not allowing a different commercial project in the future for either this owner or any future owner of the property.

Is Vilano Beach an appropriate place for a private resort and club?

  • The Vilano Beach area is already a healthy mix of residential and commercial development that coexist in peaceful harmony. Local residents can enjoy a fine lunch or dinner at The Reef, Cap’s On The Water or Aunt Kate’s. Many local residents are members of the Serenata Beach Club and frequently use the amenities there for meetings or other functions. The Ocean Sands Beach Inn is an active hotel, operating quite successfully outside of the Vilano Beach Town Center. Also, a recent internet search of yielded hundreds of residences in the Vilano Beach area available for immediate rental in addition to those being marketed by several vacation rental companies in the area.
  • With accommodations of only 170 rooms and suites, the size of events at The Watermarke will be limited.

What will be in the 70,000 square feet of commercial space?

  • The maximum of 70,000 square feet of allowed commercial space is spread out over the entire resort and is for resort-oriented amenities, including a ballroom and meeting spaces, casual and more formal restaurants, spa and fitness facilities, family recreation space and gift shops for members and guests.

Is The Watermarke affiliated with other properties and developments around the country with the name Watermarke?

  • The Watermarke Resort & Club is a local, independent project and is not affiliated with any other property or development with the name Watermark or Watermarke.

How will traffic from the resort affect the Coastal Highway?

  • Detailed traffic studies show a significant reduction in projected daily and rush hour traffic trips on Coastal Highway with The Watermarke, compared to those projected for the currently approved residential neighborhood.
  • Most importantly, The Watermarke is not projected to be open for business until May 2019 at the earliest. The planned operational fixes to the May Street/San Marco intersection are expected to begin in early 2017 and to be completed before the projected opening of The Watermarke.
  • Peak residential traffic hours are typically 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., while peak hours at a resort are typically 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Many guests of The Watermarke will be from out of town and will likely be using transportation such as taxis or private transportation such as Uber. Once they arrive at the resort, there will be shuttles and water taxis available to take them to local destinations, if desired. This will help reduce the traffic trips from the resort.

What about impacts on the local environment, such as drainage, marsh and dune preservation, beach erosion, wildlife, etc.?

  • The Watermarke Team completed an Environmental Resources Report in February and will follow all County and St. Johns River Water Management District requirements in terms of buffers, setbacks, stormwater treatment and tree preservation.
  • The Watermarke is less impactful to the environment across many measures than a residential neighborhood would be, with less impervious area and a more condensed building footprint.
  • The Watermarke Team is highly sensitive to the needs of beach, dune, and marsh environments and will be strictly following all applicable local, state and federal laws, rules and regulations to protect and enhance the surrounding natural habitats and environmental communities.
  • More than half of the The Watermarke property, which contains wetlands and saltwater marsh, will be designated as permanent conservation land.

Why do we need a commercial development outside of the zone of the Vilano Beach Town Center when we are working so hard to develop that area?

  • Since The Watermarke will be attracting guests who may not have considered Vilano Beach as a vacation or event destination, it will not be directly competing with existing business in the Vilano Beach Town Center. In fact, it is expected that The Watermarke will help expand the customer base for existing and future businesses operating in the Vilano Beach Town Center.
  • As a private resort and club, The Watermarke will only be available for members and guests of the resort. Therefore, it will not draw existing activity away from the Vilano Beach Town Center.
  • The Watermarke will encourage resort guests to visit and patronize the Vilano Beach Town Center by providing shuttles and water taxis. It is The Watermarke Team’s intention to enhance the development of the Vilano Beach Town Center by supporting and increasing visitors to the area.

Why does The Watermarke Resort & Club want to come to Vilano Beach?

  • Market trends for Northeast Florida, particularly the St. Augustine area, show that hospitality is a growing need.
  • The unique features of the property make it a perfect location for a responsibly-designed private boutique resort. The property is surrounded by more than 80 acres of wetlands and conservation area, making it naturally private and exclusive.
  • The Watermarke will have a synergistic relationship with the developing Vilano Beach Town Center. The boutique-style resort has been planned to complement the special tone of Vilano Beach and has been designed to be compatible with the commercial and residential areas around it.