Waterline owners mull changes

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Guests depart Nov. 2 from the Waterline Marina Resort and Beach Club in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Are changes underway for Anna Maria Island’s only corporate hotel?

The owners at Mainsail Lodging and Development of Tampa are downplaying a rumor that its Waterline Marina Resort and Beach Club, which opened at 5325 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, in 2017, will restructure from a full-service hotel to privately-owned rental condominiums.

“It’s something to consider,” Joe Collier, president and CEO of Mainsail, told The Islander Nov. 1.

“But we have no plans to move forward with such a thing at this time. We are studying it. Right now, the analysts and lawyers are mulling it over.”

Collier said no documents for restructuring had been filed, “as far as I know,” and even if the restructure does occur at a future time, the public would feel little to no change at all at the property.

Currently, Waterline is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection of hotel properties and reservations are made through the Marriott booking site.

Collier started the Mainsail Lodging and Development business in 1998, after 15 years with Marriott International in sales, marketing and development.

He said Waterline clients often ask about sales of the hotels two bedroom-two bath units.

“Waterline is a great property we love,” Collier said. “We like the vacation rental business. We have the Mainsail Vacation Rental division in-house at Waterline. If we operate it like a vacation rental, people may stay with us longer — say five nights instead of just two-three.”

Restructuring the Waterline to condo rentals would require filings with the state and city of Holmes Beach, Collier said, and licensing would have to follow municipal rules.

Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth said she had not been notified about restructuring Waterline, but she is aware of the possibility.

Titsworth said Waterline operates a marina, and the rentals are considered transient lodging.

According to the city code for marinas, lodging is an acceptable use in which occupancy of a unit would be limited to less than 180 consecutive days and units cannot be leased, subleased or rented for more than 180 consecutive days.

Andrew Houghton is a general manager at Mainsail Vacation Rentals and a managing partner with Mainsail Lodging. He previously worked 33 years for Marriott.

Of the possible restructuring, he told The Islander Oct. 31, “We’ve made no decisions.”

“Our customers ask about buying the rooms often,” Houghton said. “We want to elevate the experience at Waterline and maintain the environment.”

He also said, “You have to look at starting levels and adjust as business changes. You have to look at business volume and priorities within the business.”

Collier told The Islander, “It’s expensive to operate a hotel. If changes do happen, the Waterline would feel very much the same no matter what we do.”

3 thoughts on “Waterline owners mull changes

  1. Janet Aubry

    I was approached by Nick Easterling at an event in Naples announcing one of several premier high rise condos Gene Aubry designed for WCI in Bay Colony. Nick saw my name tag and introduced himself. He told me about a project he was planning in Holmes Beach and asked if he could show it to us. A few days later he came by the house and brought drawings and a layout for a brochure he planned to take to prospective investors. Gene reviewed the drawings and Nick asked me to read the brochure copy and make changes to better clarify his concept for the investor. We cared about the island and were always happy to contribute our time to help on what in this case appeared to be an in scale, low key, old Florida project. Nick described his vision for a boat condo concept and a club which was to be based on the old Everglades Hunting and Fishing Club - a place he loved. We thought it could be a cool thing. We did however caution him his greatest challenge would be to get investors Onboard for an idea everyone loved but the ownership process and rules were so convoluted and unconventional they didn’t inspire a high level of investment confidence.

    At that time he Nick had been having ongoing, informal discussions with people at city hall but had not yet made his first formal proposal. Your reference to the marina docks not being part of his plan is probably correct. I was never told they were part of it. His drawings showed docks adjacent and assigned to specific condos as a central component of his concept. His early plans seemed to indicate he would build docks . What I referenced in my letter described what occurred before there was a formal presentation to the city or any coverage in the paper. I recall when you did come onboard and your commendable reporting over a long period of time and through many iterations on what eventually became The Watermark.

    To reiterate my original point , the taxpayers and city have accommodated the current owner/developer more than we had to. If, as reported, he is ‘contemplating ‘ yet another
    scheme requiring more concessions from us so he can sell units approved for short term hotel/motel rental as condos I think we should say no. That change (which he claims we won’t even notice) would create more negative impact on us while giving him a chance to make more money at our expense. At some point, we need to stop giving away the store so others can make money while creating impacts that further hinder the preservation of our community. Honestly It’s like being pecked to death by baby ducks.

  2. Janet Aubry

    I have news for Mr. Collier. The Mainsail was originally planned by the late Nick Easterling and others to be condos sold as boat condo units that by code had to be owner occupied and not rentals which is why they didn’t pre-sell which Collier well knows. He bought it at a fire sale from a now defunct savings and loan who foreclosed on it when it finally breathed its last ill conceived death. He tried to sell the then city commission on the idea of a high density ‘old Florida’ condo development. Please. He even dragged Ed Chiles down from Anna Maria one night to the Holmes Beach city commission meeting as window dressing to sell his plan. That failed and eventually he settled for a few undeserved concessions different from what was initially approved but not what he wanted. Now he acts like he has just thought of this amazing original idea to convert what now has to condos for sale which I am sure he thinks the city will allow to be converted to resort rentals. The buyers could find out after he’s gone with his big bag of money that as it stands right now they could not rent out what they bought. He goes on to say we , the residents (represented by our commission), won’t even realize the difference. Nice try Bud. We aren’t even close to being the trusting idiots we once were thanks to the deceit and destruction offered up by other developers before and including you. We will decide - not you - what happens there and what our desired impact will be if any. You can’t buy cache in Holmes Beach anymore. Those people were swept out of the city government by the new and honest elected regime. You remember commissioner Judy Holmes Titsworth who fought hard to keep your ambitious density plans in check ? She could have done what so many others did and reap financial benefits from building a monument for you. Instead she chose to do the right thing for all of us . It’s called ethics. She takes pride in what her family built (not overbuilt) here. Not unlike the sensible, appropriate things Ed Chiles and his family did in Anna Maria with The Sandbar, The Studio and Pine Avenue. Not many people know that Ed Chiles could have doubled the density and tripled his investment on Pine but he wanted to do the right thing by keeping it in scale and harmony with its neighbors. Judy is very respected here for many reasons so it is not surprising she was easily elected mayor. I’m sure she’ll be watching any planned changes at Mainsail. Your cavalier attitude doesn’t play around here anymore. Remember where you are Bud. This is Holmes Beach not Collier Beach.

    1. Bonner Joy

      Whoah!!! Wait a minute. I was involved in reporting on Easterling's project from the get go. 2br/2ba condos -- and a few single/efficiency units over the restaurant/cigar room/ballroom. The marina was being rebuilt ... but boat slips were not included. The units were being sold as a hyper timeshare. Owners didn't have use of the unit. They didn't furnish. Their unit went into the rental pool. They introduced boat slip sales -- independent of the condos -- later, but the city said no. The marina was not zoned to allow sales of boat slips.

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