St Joe, Clubs by JOE, Watersound Club, Camp Creek Inn and Golf


Country Club Chic

An Incomparable Oasis Awaits

By Carrie Honaker | Photography courtesy of Watersound Club

“You’re only as good as your last bowl of soup,” says the executive chef for Camp Creek dining venues, Joseph Truex.

If that’s true, the gumbo has delivered for The St. Joe Company over the last few months.

Condé Nast Traveler announced its annual Readers’ Choice Awards after polling more than 520,000 readers, and two of the St. Joe development and hospitality company’s properties ranked among the most elite. The Pearl Hotel was recognized as one of the best hotels in the USA and one of the world’s best hotels, and WaterColor Inn was one of the top resorts in Florida.

Now, there’s a new kid in the portfolio of St. Joe’s collection of Watersound Clubs and hotels: The Camp Creek Inn.

Just past the guard station on Watersound Way in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, a winding lane takes you along the graceful Camp Creek golf course, shrouded in lush grasses, pines, and oaks native to the area. The end of the journey deposits you at a roundabout showcasing this new property’s many amenities. The Wellness Center sits opposite the inn and houses a yoga space, a cycle studio with seventeen bikes, locker rooms with steam room and sauna, and a suite of cardio equipment overlooking the three pools with lazy river, waterslide, and Bark N’ Brine smokehouse.

By 10 a.m., the scent of smoked brisket fills the air around the pools—they smoke it in-house for twenty-four hours. Local ingredients like Gulf shrimp are menu cornerstones because, as Truex says, “They taste so much better, they’re better for the environment, and they’re supporting our economy.” In the distance, an activity lawn (sometimes filled with inflatables), a half-court basketball area, a game room with ping pong and tabletop shuffleboard, and paddle sports courts await.

General manager Dave Merryman elaborates, “What we have elevates the private club experience. They have tennis courts, but we offer eight pickleball courts in addition to our eight Har-Tru clay tennis courts.” He adds, “The expansive pool area spreads everybody out so you don’t feel overcrowded—you can spend the entire day lounging while your kids play in the lazy river or hit the waterslide.”

And if you’re a Camp Creek Inn guest, all those Watersound Club amenities belong to you—it’s a “member for a stay” experience, living that private club life as a hotel guest.

Sweeping the elegant doors open at the Camp Creek Inn, you immediately notice the attention to detail. The color palette and tile mirror the Wellness Center, creating a cohesive design experience, while thoughtful touches like bits of railroad ties buried in the succulent vases strewn around the lobby nod to The St. Joe Company and its role in this area’s history.

It feels more intimate than a traditional hotel lobby, and Merryman attributes that to the fact that when you walk into Camp Creek Inn, you walk into the clubhouse for the golf course. He adds, “It’s a private member golf course, a private member clubhouse, and we just happen to have seventy-five beautiful hotel rooms right above it.”

“Every place I’ve ever cooked and lived changed me as a human and as a chef.”

The design leans into the area without an overbearing beach theme. The decor draws inspiration from the lush fairways radiating into the surrounding wilderness, the sage greens and blues of the landscape, and the natural woods canopying the property.

The well-appointed rooms feature that same palette with floor-to-ceiling curtains in subtle botanical prints, soft grays, blues, and greens on the walls, warm hardwood floors, and luxurious bathrooms with comfy pinstriped robes waiting to be donned.

Downstairs, two restaurants complete the inn: 1936 and ANR. 1936 charms with its lounge-style bar and restaurant named after the year St. Joe was founded. A stately marble bar offers a front-row seat for their classic cocktail program—mixologists pour their tinctures, crack their shakers, and delicately place garnishes atop their creations.

Truex, who got his start in the celebrated dining rooms of New Orleans, adds, “1936 is an elevated coastal-casual restaurant with great sandwiches, good snacks, and fresh shareables that you can get quickly. We have an amazing po’boy, a Cuban sandwich, and dishes reflective of the region while pulling a little from the Caribbean, Cuba, and New Orleans.”

He also says grace over ANR, the full-service restaurant adjacent to 1936. The name serves as an homage to the history St. Joe shares with the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, and the menu sections nod to important moments with titles like “DuPont Beginnings” and “Next Stop…Milltown.”

The short-line railroad completed in 1910 operated in the Florida Panhandle between Port St. Joe and Chattahoochee with a short spur to Apalachicola. In 1933, Alfred duPont, founder of The St. Joe Company, purchased the railroad to service his paper mill. A colorful character and nonconformist, duPont had a vision for his company when he first bought the scrub pine and sand that made up the austere landscape of this area in 1926. Today, St. Joe is known for developments like Camp Creek, but it’s always alongside projects for the communities where it operates, like land donations to build schools, parks, fire stations, and wetland preservation.

For Truex, ANR is not just about honoring the company’s history but also his culinary journey. He began his career in Louisiana at grand hotels like the Fairmont, but cooking has taken him to many points around the globe, including Switzerland, New York City, Atlanta, and Dubai. He’s worked under renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud; his résumé is deep and wide.

Every table at ANR receives a petite cast iron skillet. A batch of cornbread with a craggy golden brown crust studded with bits of bacon and onion fills its confines. But according to Truex, that could change. Next time, it could be monkey bread, mini rolls, or focaccia filled with tomatoes and herbs, but as Truex says, “Every table gets a skillet—sometimes two, sometimes three—and it will always be homemade.”

The Cajun fried oysters make a worthy follow-up to the cornbread with their spicy dredge and geometric swooshes of curry vinaigrette and tiger sauce. Other heavy hitters are the light crab cakes filled with lump crabmeat delicately perched atop a Florida corn puree or the Spanish Iberico bone-in pork chop with peach gastrique and sweet potato gratin. For Truex, the blackened redfish with oyster velouté speaks to the ethos of what they are trying to do at ANR: “honoring the ingredients of the South while providing an interesting take informed by the places I’ve been. Every place I’ve ever cooked and lived changed me as a human and as a chef.”

St Joe, Clubs by JOE, Watersound Club, Camp Creek Inn and Golf

Executive Chef Joseph Truex

A fleet of bicycles awaits right outside the hotel to spirit you away for the star of the show, the cotton candy-colored sunset over the Gulf. But if tucking in after a luxurious dinner fits the bill, your room is just a few steps away. And if you get a late-night hankering for a snack, the treat suite is open 24/7.

Merryman elaborates, “In most hotels, you’ll find a minibar in the room and a couple of snacks, maybe some water and a soft drink or two. Instead, we created a common area where you can walk in and help yourself to everything from ice cream to protein bars to healthy snacks, water, ice, juices, and more. It’s almost like you are staying at home, and you just walk down to the kitchen and grab something whenever you want.”

Every detail thought of, every need assuaged, a home for the short time you stay; that is the goal of the Camp Creek team. That’s some good soup.

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Visit to learn more about lodging, golf, dining, and club amenities at Watersound Club properties by The St. Joe Company.

VIE is excited to partner with ANR to host an exclusive vintner dinner benefiting Children’s Volunteer Health Network in April 2024 as part of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation weekend. Stay tuned for more news and ticket information at and, or follow us on social media @viemagazine.

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