5 Things To Consider Before Booking A Room On Panama City Beach

5. Pet Friendliness

You’d be shocked at how many vacationers make the assumption that all Panama City Beach accommodations are pet friendly. In fact, the truth is, less than a third allow pets. So many vacationers don’t ask the hotel and bring Fido along only lose their reservation on the account of the hotel/condo not accepting pets. If you intend to bring your dog or cat or your albino Burmese python, you might want to call ahead before you hit the book button. While definitely in the minority, there are some pet friendly accommodations on Panama City Beach and the need for others to get on board is growing. But do call before bringing any furry friends.

4. Gulf View vs Gulf Front

Not all Panama City Beach rooms are gulf front. No, really, it’s true. And even while some accommodations are sitting on the gulf front, not all the rooms within them have gulf views. This is the root of many upset vacationers expecting to wake up every morning to the sound of absconding sea, only to wake up to roadside or a nice blank wall. When booking a room, ask if the room is gulf front. If the operator says “yes, our rooms are gulf view,” this doesn’t necessarily mean that your room is directly facing the gulf. You may have a room that faces the pool and has a gulf view from a particular angle. Don’t be afraid to require confirmation before booking. Is it gulf front or gulf view? These people get paid to answer that question just for you.

3.Spring Breakers Destroy Everything

Every year, from the end of February to the beginning of April, Panama City Beach is overrun with college students looking to take a party break from school. While in the past, Panama City Beach has been the Spring Break Capital of the World, the identity of the city has changed, and so too, more and more, is that perception. Still, though, the kids to PCB come and they come to party. Because of this, vacationers are sometimes reluctant to vacation to PCB for fear those breakers broke everything they could get their hands on. In rare situations this is true, but very rare. All students under 25 are required to pay up front cash security deposits anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00. If anything is broken, they lose that money. So the kids have fun, but desperately want that money back; how else are they going to get back to school? In addition, not all accommodations accept the under 25 crowd and simply don’t rent during that season. Panama City Beach accommodations are required to have security on property, in some cases off duty police officers, to make sure property isn’t destroyed in any way.

2. Costs

This one is a biggy. So you want to book a Panama City Beach room and you believe calling direct, 8 months ahead of schedule, will get you the best rate. While you are more likely to be guaranteed a room by booking early, that does not mean you’ll get the best price. In another scenario, you’ve been reluctant to book early hoping you might save money by taking advantage of last-minute specials, only to find every hotel/condo you wanted completely sold out. It’s a tough go either way you look at it. But, Panama City Beach is lucky to be affiliated at home with booking services like BOOKIT.com. That gives potential vacationers the ability to do some serious price comparisons. Call the hotel/condo direct, get a price, then check out online services and compare. You are more likely to find a great deal as well as a few awesome package deals that include things like food, attractions and even free gas into one price. But do be careful. Some accommodations have additional fees. While you may think you’ve found a great deal, keep in mind that the base rate isn’t the only thing that will determine your total bill. Be sure to ask what taxes, resort fees, parking costs, energy surcharges, and other odds and ends will apply to your final tally. Even if one hotel has a lower base rate, it may end up being a more expensive option once all the extras are added in.

1. Overcrowded/Loud

Most vacationers, including myself, vacation for many reasons, none more important than just relaxing…getting away from everything. Panama City Beach’s biggest myth is that it is overcrowded and loud during the vacation season making it difficult to truly relax. The truth is, yes there are lots of people vacationing just like you, but there’s more than enough space and opportunity to just relax. In fact, many of the accommodations on Panama City Beach have added features like in-house spas, movie theaters, bars and restaurants to allow you full detachment. So you can just sit back, enjoy the beach and really, really relax.

Southwest Airlines buys AirTran Airways [DEAL CLOSED]

In a move that will inch them closer to being the largest airline in the US, Southwest Airlines closed the purchase of AirTran Airways Monday.  The airline already flies more passengers per year, over 100 million, but most of them are vacation travelers, rather than business travelers.  This purchase move is said to increase their leverage to capture the higher-fare-paying business traveler.

Acquisition benefits to Southwest Airlines
  • Gains access to Washington’s Reagan National Airport
  • Acquired gates in New York’s LaGuardia Airport
  • Acquires AirTran’s hub in Atlanta
  • Will increase passenger traffic by 25%

As of right now, it’s unclear how Southwest’s $1 billion purchase of AirTran will effect the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.  It’s assumed that Southwest will integrate AirTran’s routes with their own, but it’s too early to tell how this will  pan out.  Obviously a huge element of this buy is the acquisition of the Atlanta hub as this is highly sought after in the business travel arena.  Of course, the Atlanta part of this deal is particularly interesting to us as that area has always been a great feeder to our market.  If access to Atlanta was easier, we may be able to expect a boost in tourism travel from there.


New Airport Names New Executive Director

There has been some changes in management at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.  Former Executive Director Randy Curtis has been moved to a different role, Director of Special Projects and John Wheat was named the Executive Director.  This move came quickly with little fanfare and only but a little commotion from one of the board members who held the only dissenting vote – Andy McKenzie.  McKenzie’s quarrel with the swift action was that it was just that, too fast.

In the past, airport positions have been well publicized, accepted many resumes and have opened up discussion for the board in advance.  The hiring of Wheat was fast, not well discussed in public and actually slipped through in the board meeting without his name being mentioned.

The quick movements were justified by other board members by the time-sensitive negotiations the board was in with Southwest and Delta Airlines over future landing fees.  As of date, the airlines have not been happy with the pace of negotiations and the new appointments were expected to accelerate a final agreement.  Landing fees are a significant revenue generator for the airport.  Concurrent with the appointment of Wheat as the new executive director, both airlines and St. Joe gave their nod of approval of Wheat as well.

Another appointment was made as well: Parker McClellan as the Deputy Executive Director.

I bet you’re wondering how much all these guys make.  I know I sure was.  In an article recently released in the News Herald, the annual salaries were noted:  John Wheat, Executive Director, $135,000; Parker McClellan, Deputy Executive Director, $100,000; Randy Curtis, Director of Special Projects, $116,000.

Here is the full press release:

Panama City, Fla. (April 27, 2011) – The Airport Authority has named John Wheat as the executive director of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. As executive director, Wheat is responsible for leading the operational and strategic efforts of the Airport and reports to the Airport Authority Board of Directors. Wheat brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the aviation industry and most recently served as COO of the Tampa International Airport, where he was responsible for the organization’s finances and operations, as well as brings valued relationships with key partners.

The Airport Authority has also introduced a new organizational model for the Airport with a leadership team that is well-positioned to take the organization forward. This includes Parker McClellan as Deputy Executive Director and Randy Curtis as Director of Special Projects. McClellan, who most recently served as the acting director for the Airport, is now the Deputy Executive Director to ensure a comprehensive leadership team with all airport activity working through this position and up to the Executive Director. Curtis will play an important role in the closing of the “old airport”, as well as ensuring the airport maintains positive relationships with various state and federal agencies. His historical and institutional knowledge will be valuable to the upcoming work on behalf of this organization.

With the addition of John Wheat, the Northwest Florida Beaches International leadership team brings the vision, experience and relationships to best leverage one of the community’s greatest assets. This strategic leadership team is focused on driving the region’s economic vitality as they lead the first international airport to open in more than 10 years. The gateway to beautiful world-famous beaches, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport boasts a plethora of convenient flights daily serviced by Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines.

Another Successful Thunder Beach Rally

Thunder Beach Productions, Inc. (TBP) held the 11th annual Spring Thunder Beach Bike Rally. Riders from across the country traveled to Panama City Beach to take part in the most biker-friendly free rally in the U.S. The vendor sponsored event attracted cheerful, playful and bizarre characters from all walks of life.

Local businesses welcomed the high-spirited riders with open arms. Restaurants served the comrades on wheels with concerts, beauty pageants, and karaoke that was wildly entertaining. Frank Brown Park was the main site of the rally, where sponsors of the event catered to the cyclist’s every need. The roaring motorcycles covered local businesses throughout the 27 plus miles of premier beaches.

This was truly a rally to be remembered, and one that has shown consistent growth since its first rally was organized in spring of 2000. For all of us who can’t wait until next spring to participate in the rally again, TBP also holds a yearly autumn bike rally in September right here in Panama City Beach. For more information visit their website at http://thunderbeachproductions.com

SPOTTED: Google Maps Street View Car in PCB

If you’re not a bit nerdy, you probably won’t really care.  But, since this is something that doesn’t happen very often (like maybe once every 3 or 4 years), I figured it was absolutely noteworthy.

Google Maps has several Subaru Impreza cars wrapped in Google Maps garb and outfitted with a roof assembly topped with a “Ladybug” that includes an array of 15 cameras.  The “Ladybug” takes shots slightly down, level and  slightly up at 360 degrees.  The array can snap shots in real time at normal driving speeds.  The driver needs to do nothing else except drive normally while in operation.

The driver of this car is a local, hired as a contractor by Google through the local Workforce Center.  Once he was hired, he was flown to California, trained on how to use the car then drove it back here to map out the area.

When I talked to the driver, he had already completed Panama City proper and Panama City Beach, and was headed to Destin.

So, what does this mean for Panama City Beach?  This means we’re going to have more up to date imagery of Panama City Beach in Google Maps Street View.

More on Google Maps Street View.

Here are more pictures.