January 28, 2021

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Just Do Travel

Hotel by Panama City Beach Florida airport to open next summer

2 min read
Nathan Cobb
 
| The News Herald

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Passengers at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) soon will have a new lodging option right down the street. 

Located near the intersection of Venture Crossings Boulevard and West Bay Parkway, the Hilton Garden Inn is slated to open next summer after more than a year of construction, according to Mike Kerrigan, spokesman for the St. Joe Company. 

“(Panama City Beach has) really matured as a destination and is attracting a wide variety of visitors all throughout the year that are coming for different reasons, including business travel,” Kerrigan said. “To have a hotel real close and convenient to the airport, we think will be very attractive.”

The development will feature 143 rooms and is one of three hotels currently being built by St. Joe in Bay County. The other sites are located east of Pier Park on Front Beach Road and across from the Panama City Beach Sports Complex off Chip Seal Parkway. 

More: Five new St. Joe hotels in two counties

The company, which has spent more than $100 million on a variety of local developments since Hurricane Michael, also opened a TownePlace Suites near Frank Brown Park earlier this year. Company officials also announced plans to break ground on another hotel at the Panama City Marina next year.

More: St. Joe has undertaken 22 projects, spent more than $100 million, since Hurricane Michael

As of Monday, crews were busy working on the Hilton Garden Inn, which broke ground toward the end of 2019, Kerrigan said. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, construction has gone “very smoothly” this year, he added. 

Richard McConnell, deputy executive director of ECP, said that having a hotel near the airport is crucial to its future growth.

ECP officials recently announced they expect the airport’s master plan to be complete next spring. This will be used to map out expansions during the next couple of decades. 

“(The hotel) meets the demand of some of our passengers and our patrons who want to stay close to the airport, be close to their flights (or) want to be able to maybe come the night before and stay an evening,” McConnell said. 

He added that as the airport and community continue to grow and develop, one of the things the air transportation industry demands is close-by lodging options for travelers — something ECP doesn’t have yet. 

McConnell also said that it’s not only common for larger international airports to have surrounding hotels, but very important to their operations. 

“We’re in a point in time now where the sustained growth of the airport is demanding that we provide some sort of amenity such as a hotel or a place to stay overnight close to the airport,” he said.