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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Luminous Pearl opens in Rosemary Beach

Courtesy The Pearl

ROSEMARY BEACH, Fla. – It was a dark and stormy night in mid-August, but the downpour and lightning bolts did nothing to dampen spirits inside the Pearl.

The luminous 55-room boutique hotel, open a mere 36 hours, was in all-out celebration mode. Even Ernest Hemingway, who frequented the Cuban bar that inspired the Pearl’s Havana Beach Bar and Grill, would have had a tough time keeping up with the loud crowd.

Many were homeowners of that beach community, the most eastward of the villages along Scenic Highway 30A and probably the priciest of a bunch that includes Alys Beach, Seaside and WaterColor.

They had been waiting several years for something to happen with the European-style hotel built and then abandoned on a corner of Rosemary Beach’s main downtown street. Finally, a hotel, bar, restaurant and meeting space had arrived.

The Pearl is the most adult of the hotels and resorts in the Beachs of South Walton area. Its aim is high-end.

The Pearl goes to extremes that other area properties do not: purifying and bottling its own water with a system called Nordaq Fresh, providing an iPad and an Apple television in each room, serving complimentary refreshments twice each day at the pool and at the nearby beach, setting up beach chairs and packing a cooler with guests’ preferred beverages.

Such personalization is part of being a boutique hotel. “We are only 55 guest rooms. We should know our guests,” said Michael Votta, general manager.

The inn’s meeting space is small and typical, save for a streetfront meeting space decorated with a mural painted by local artist. Favored gathering places will be its bars, its pool courtyard or in an executive suite that incorporates the hotel’s corner tower.

The hotel’s decor has been localized by the work of photographer Tommy Crow, whose studio is across the street. When Crow stopped in to introduce himself as the hotel was being completed, owners decided to send him to Cuba to shoot the photos and video that are now the hotel’s art. Don’t miss the portrait of a debonair Cuban, out for a stroll, enjoying his cigar, or the electric blue 1950s Chevy with a slumbering woman as passenger. Crow got that shot as the Chevy rolled up next to his cab in Havana.