Waterline Marina Resort opens

The Waterline Marina Resort and Beach Club opened to the public Wednesday morning. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

Updated Dec. 5, 2017 

HOLMES BEACH – The Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club is open and the first guests have arrived.

“We’re thrilled. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve had a lot of time to sit back, reflect and refine what we’re doing,” General Manager Sandy Zinck said on opening day, Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Developed, owned and operated by Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development, Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club is located at 5325 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach.

Waterline is affiliated with the 12-unit Mainsail Beach Inn at 101 66th St., opened in 2009. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Mainsail Beach Inn now serves as the beach club for Waterline guests transported aboard the 35-passenger Waterline trolley.

Waterline features 37 luxury suites configured to meet various lodging needs. Accommodating four guests, a one-bedroom suite with a single king-sized bed and sleeper sofa was going for $399 on the Waterline website that utilizes reservation services provided by the Marriott hotel chain. A single-bed guest room is listed for $249. Accommodating eight guests, a two-bedroom suite with a water view is listed for $649. Rates will vary based on seasonality.

Suites feature full kitchens, a washer and dryer and private patios. Featuring modern coastal decor and local artwork from The Studio on Gulf and Pine, Waterline also offers the 94-seat Plimsoll Ballroom, a 10-seat conference room that doubles as a private dining area, a business center, swimming pool, fitness center, children’s play area, a dockmaster’s office that doubles as a store selling Waterline-logo products and a 50-slip marina that includes 10 short-term docks for boaters dropping by to dine or drink at Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen.

Open to the public, Eliza Ann’s features southern-slanted food with an emphasis on seafood and a full bar that offers signature cocktails like the bourbon-based Plimsoll Sazerac.

Eliza Ann’s is currently open from 4 to 10 p.m. daily and one hour later on Fridays and Saturdays.

Eliza Ann’s will soon be open for lunch and weekend brunch as it progresses toward full breakfast, lunch and dinner service, with room service too.

Waterline will host a job fair Wednesday, Dec. 6, for those interested in filling the remaining culinary and housekeeping positions.

“Waterline brings to the community a full-service hotel experience. If you’re a guest on the Island you have beautiful accommodations, the beaches and all those things, but you don’t have a facility that has all the amenities that typically come with a hotel. I think that’s what makes us different,” Mainsail Lodging & Development Vice President of Operations Tom Haines said.

“This is our third Autograph Collection hotel. Each hotel has its own personality. The Epicurean Hotel in Tampa is all about food and wine. The Waterline hotel is all about family vacations, being at the beach and Old Florida,” he added.

History incorporated

Waterline’s opening brings to life a long-vacant property previously occupied by Pete Reynard’s restaurant, which opened in 1954. Pete Reynard’s was part of the yacht club formed in 1953 by a group of citizens led by city founder Jack Holmes.

Longtime residents still talk about the rotating salad bar and the rotating Compass Room later added after a fire in 1965.

“I salute Joe Collier and his team for breathing life and vitality back into this important Holmes Beach site so the history and hospitality Pete and Eleanor Reynard started can be enjoyed for generations to come,” Waterline investor Ed Chiles said.

County Commissioner and Holmes Beach resident Carol Whitmore is also happy to see the property active again.

“Being an Island resident since 1969, I’m excited about this new development. I was there when that special place closed and was torn down and I have always supported the redevelopment of the site even when other elected officials did not,” she said.

Zinck and resort host Susanne Arbanis provided a tour of the new hotel. While standing in the kitchen of a two-bedroom suite, Zinck pointed to the AMI Chamber of Commerce’s “Flip Flop Fare” cookbook displayed on the counter. The cookbook was open to the page that features an artist’s rendering of Pete Reynard’s. Zinck bought enough cookbooks for each suite and extras for hotel guests to purchase.

Another nod to Island history is the pool-side children’s area called Cobb’s Corner. Featuring a giant-sized checkers and chess board, the area is named after Samuel Cobb, one of the Island’s original homesteaders.

Arbanis said the Plimsoll Ballroom is named after Samuel Plimsoll, the English politician who devised the Plimsoll line, also known as the waterline, displayed on the outside of cargo vessels to indicate the safe limit to which the ship can be loaded. Eliza Ann’s is named after Plimsoll’s wife.