Seabreeze Jazz Festival Announces 2013 Jazz Fest Lineup

Every year the Seabreeze Jazz Festival brings smooth tunes with sea breeze to Northwest Florida provided by renowned artists and classy performances. In the past we’ve had artists like George Benson, Brian Culbertson and Eric Darius and this year’s lineup promises to be as entertaining as ever.

This year’s Seabreeze Jazz Festival will be held at the newly completed Aaron Bessant Park Ampitheater (which looks amazing) April 17 – 21, 2013.

Tickets can be bought by visiting SeabreezeJazzFestival.com/tickets.

Here’s the lineup.

Wednesday April 17th

Smooth Jazz Dinner Cruise aboard The Lady Anderson
Treasure Island Marina, Panama City Beach, FL
Hosted by Brian Culbertson 7pm-10pm
(Boat boards at 6:30pm, sails at 7pm)

Thursday April 18th — Gates open at 5pm — Show at 6pm

6pm – Steve Oliver

7:15pm – Margo Rey

8:45pm – Boney James

Friday April 19th — Gates open at 5pm — Show at 6pm

6pm – Ken Ford

7:30pm – Tim Bowman

8:45pm – Fourplay
(Bob James, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, and Chuck Loeb) with special guest Layla Hathaway

Smooth Jazz After Party — 10:30pm at Reggae J’s at Pier Park (buffet at 10:30pm/Show at 11pm) featuring Motown Jazz Jam — Hosted by Tim Bowman
(Presented by Smooth Lounge.com)

Motor City’s top smooth jazz artists and session players create the ultimate jazz jam show. Artists confirmed include Dave McMurray, Althea Rene, Ron Otis, Rayse Biggs, Yancyy, Ron Otis, Al Mackenzie, Paul Dozier, Gwen Foxx, William Pope, Kali Douglas, and Kereem Warren.

Saturday April 20st — Gates at 10am — Show at 11am

11am Brian Lanair — (Seabreeze Rising Star)

12:30 DW3 — (Los Angeles based smooth jazz group)

2pm – Peter White and Euge Groove

4pm – Peet Project (Hugarian based jazz and funk – 1st USA show) (Seabreeze Hidden Gem)

6pm – Brian Culbertson

8pm – BwB (Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, and Rick Braun)

After Party — 10:30pm at Reggae J’s at Pier Park featuring Brian Culbertson and special guests (Presented by SmoothJazz.com)

Sunday April 21st — Gates at 10am — Show at 11am 

11am – Roman Street

12 noon – The Southern Gentlemen featuring Joey Sommerville, Michael Ward, and Eric Essix

2pm – Yancyy (Seabreeze Rising Star)

4pm – Average White Band

6pm – Jazz In Pink featuring Pamela Williams, Athea Rene, Karen Briggs, Gail Jhonson, Maria Antionette, and others

8pm – Tower of Power

 

September Bed Tax Numbers up 7% Year Over Year

Looking at the bed tax revenue numbers for August, September’s had been released at the beginning of the month!  It’s always super insightful to see where September falls as for many, it’s the last big hooray for the summer tourism season.  For many still, October proves a strong month as fall tourism is popular at the beach before November and December drop sharply.

This September didn’t feel as frenzied with the lack of TDC planned events like we had last year, but at Panama City Beach Luxury Properties, we were still sold out each weekend through the month.  In addition, most of our larger properties enjoyed strong weekly rentals through the entire month.

For the industry, bed tax revenue collections were over 7% up for September 2012 over September 2011 and rang in at a total of $999,168.09

A close look at the numbers.
  • September 2012 – $999,168.09 – single point:  $199,833.62 – 7.65% up over previous year
  • September 2011 – $928,161.56 – single point:  $185,632.31 – 16.7% up over previous year
  • September 2010 – $795,301.87 – single point:  $159,060.37 – 0.0% neutral over previous year (oil spill year)
  • September 2009 – $795,698.44 – single point:  $159,139.69 – 2.1% up over previous year
  • September 2008 – $467,386.73 – single point:  $155,795.58 – 17.7% up over previous year
  • September 2007 – $397,000.56 – single point:  $132,333.52
When considering gains, it’s always fun to look at where we are in comparison to where we were a few years ago.  For example, before the oil spill, many considered the 2008 summer tourism season a good baseline for strong tourism.  When compared to that year, 2012 is  25.6% up.

Industry wide in Bay County for September 2012, $19,983,361.80 was generated in reported room-night revenue.

The numbers from the previous months this year
  • August 2012 – $3,007,148.42 – up 1.52% over previous year
  • July 2012 – $3,007,148.42 – up 1.52% over previous year
  • June 2012 – $2,737,780.66 – up 19.88% over previous year
  • May 2012 – $1,408,512 – up 24.95% over previous year
  • April 2012 – $1,270,835.84 – up 4.45% over previous year
  • March 2012 – $1,769,821.69 – up 19.38% over previous year

August Bed Tax Numbers up 15% Year Over Year

Having just realized that I never did a bed tax revenue report for August, I wanted to get this out real quick.  August this year seemed strong in our own vacation rental business and that seems to be confirmed with the huge increase in total revenue year over year for the month, in Panama City Beach.

Just a look at perspective, for 2011 we averaged $1524 of total revenue per property for the month here at Panama City Beach Luxury Properties and for 2012 we averaged $3614 of total revenue per property for the month – which as you can see is a 137% increase.  Of course, the fact that we have several more higher income properties this year over last year ways heavily on this.  🙂

For the industry, bed tax revenue collections were over 15% up for August 2012 over August 2011 and rang in at a total of $1,253,350.77

A close look at the numbers.
  • August 2012 – $1,253,350.77 – single point:  $250,670.15 – 15.35% up over previous year
  • August 2011 – $1,086,541.59 – single point:  $217,308.32 – 34.5% up over previous year
  • August 2010 – $807,936.59 – single point:  $161,587.32 – 14.7% DOWN over previous year
  • August 2009 – $807,936.59 – single point:  $189,519.23 – 2.5% up over previous year
  • August 2008 – $554,578.90 – single point:  $184,859.63 – 4.2% up over previous year
  • August 2007 – $532,047.94 – single point:  $177,349.31
When considering gains, it’s always fun to look at where we are in comparison to where we were a few years ago.  For example, before the oil spill, many considered the 2008 summer tourism season a good baseline for strong tourism.  When compared to that year, 2012 is  32.3% up.

Industry wide in Bay County for August 2012, $25,067,015.40 was generated in reported room-night revenue.

The numbers from the previous months this year
  • July 2012 – $3,007,148.42 – up 1.52% over previous year
  • June 2012 – $2,737,780.66 – up 19.88% over previous year
  • May 2012 – $1,408,512 – up 24.95% over previous year
  • April 2012 – $1,270,835.84 – up 4.45% over previous year
  • March 2012 – $1,769,821.69 – up 19.38% over previous year

3 Reasons to Come to the Beach This Weekend

If Panama City Beach is like a second home to you, then you know that this time of year is THE BEST time of year to come to the beach.  Very little crowd, excellent weather and warm gulf water is extremely inviting–it’s even making my mouth water and I live here!  If that pesky little thing called school didn’t get in the way, this time of year’s popularity across the board would rival summer!

Fall weekends at the beach are greeted with events, great weather and super low accommodation rates, so if you haven’t planned your trip for this weekend, beleive me, it’s not too late.  Pack your swimming suit, check our rental availability calendar and head down!

1 – Amazing weather.

Fall at the beach is super special because we have consistent 80 degree days and 60 degree nights.  Warm enough to swim in the pool or take a dip in the gulf, this time of year is so perfect.

Panama City Beach this past summer had tons of rain.  It felt like it rained almost every day!  Many of us locals were grateful for the water, but I know the tourists were asking us to do anti-rain dances.  🙂

For about the last 3 weeks, the days have been clear and we’ve been blessed with deep blue skies, emerald green waters and flat seas.  When it is like this, swimming in the gulf is like swimming in an enormous salt-water swimming pool.  It’s a blast to play with the kids in the smaller surf or just relax in the water and let the salt soak in and sun rays warm your body.  It’s therapeutic, really.

This weekend, the weather is very promising with daily highs in the mid to upper 80’s, sunshine and lows (at night) in the mid to upper 60’s.  Wind is predicted to be very low which will ensure flat surf, keeping the water clear and beautiful.

Yesterday afternoon I was hanging on my back deck with my mom and we were commenting on how perfect it felt outside.  Not too hot, nor too cold.  Just perfect.

2 – Cheap accommodation rates.

When school’s in session, it’s no secret that the beach slows down a lot.  Travel schedules are limited and demand for beach rentals goes way down.  With that, with the natural principle of supply and demand, accommodation rates come way down too.  In many cases, the cost of getting into your favorite condo or beach home is half what it cost in July, sometimes less!

For example one of our 1 bedroom 2 bathroom condos in Sterling Breeze would normally cost around $522 for three nights in July, but right now, it’s just $89 a night.  And properties all up and down the beach are negotiable just to keep some revenue momentum up through the end of our fall season.

When I’m shopping around using VRBO, I always just send inquiries through with an offer of what I can afford to pay at that time and many times I find several that are willing to work with me.

3 – Have the beach to yourself.

With travel demand down this time of year, much of the beach’s attractions and amenities are slower than they are in the summer.  This means fewer lines, shorter wait times and less traffic.  You’ll be surprised at how many people are still coming to the beach, but the sheer volume is definitely much less than summer time.

There are many local businesses that close their doors in the off-season, but for them that doesn’t come around until after October is over.  This time of year is amazing because all the perks of summer attractions still exist, but with far fewer crowds.  Grocery stores are easier to shop at, parking is easier to find and the beach itself is less crowded so you can find your perfect spot.

Summer at the beach is great, but us “locals” know that fall is the best time of year to come.  Amazing weather, cheap rates and fewer crowds make this time of year in Panama City Beach the perfect time of year to make a quick weekend trip to the beach.

July Bed Tax Revenue Numbers UP 1.59% over 2011

Summer’s almost over and July was another banner bed tax revenue month.  April, May and June were record breaking months and July just barely cinched an improvement coming in at 1.59% over last year’s numbers.

A close look at the numbers.
  •  July 2012 – $3,009,385.67 – single point:  $601,877.13 – 1.59% up over previous year
  • July 2011 – $2,962,268.09 – single point:  $592,453.62 – 50.6% up over previous year
  • July 2010 – $1,967,020.33 – single point:  $393,404.07 – -14.6% up over previous year
  • July 2009 – $2,302,863.86 – single point:  $460,572.77 – 2.7% up over previous year
  • July 2008 – $1,345,540.63 – single point:  $448,513.54 – -3.2% up over previous year
  • July 2007 – $1,389,711.37 – single point:  $463,237.12
When considering gains, it’s always fun to look at where we are in comparison to where we were a few years ago.  For example, before the oil spill, many considered the 2008 summer tourism season a good baseline for strong tourism.  When compared to that year, 2012 is  34.2% up.

Industry wide in Bay County for July 2012, $60,187,713.40 was generated in room-night revenue.

The numbers from the previous months this year
  • June 2012 – $2,737,780.66 – up 19.88% over previous year
  • May 2012 – $1,408,512 – up 24.95% over previous year
  • April 2012 – $1,270,835.84 – up 4.45% over previous year
  • March 2012 – $1,769,821.69 – up 19.38% over previous year

 

New Tourism Strategic Plan for Panama City Beach Released

Looking into the future creates feelings of excitement and anticipation.  Dreaming of what prosperity may come from careful planning and growth makes me all giddy inside.  At last week’s TDC meeting, the revised strategic plan was released that discusses the vision of 2020 in Panama City Beach and how we’ll get there.

This new plan is updated from the last plan that was released in 2008.  So, as you can imagine, we have a much better idea as to where we are and where we’re going.

The Vision of PCB in 2020
  • Maintain our place as the world’s most beautiful beaches.
  • Maintain high visitor occupancy while not exceeding the destination’s carrying capacity.
  • Continued diversification of our tourism product to create additional demand
    • New sports and event venues designed to drive increased destination appeal in the shoulder and off-seasons
    • Increased ecotourism and nature-based recreation access to the St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
    • Development of additional attractions, cultural & heritage resources, and other tourism amenities.
  • Enhance primary gateways that welcome visitors, create a sense of place, deliver the brand message and direct first-time visitors to the visitor center
  • Consistent directional signage throughout the destination.
  • Continue CRA improvements along Front Beach Road
  • Redevelopment of abandoned and dilapidated property in core visitor areas.
  • Consistent visitor occupancy in the 55% to 85% range year-round.
Key Initiatives to Achieve Vision
  1. Preserve and enhance the Beach, the most important natural resource of Panama City Beach.
  2. Enhance the visitor experience.
  3. Develop and market Panama City Beach as a year-round destination.
  4. Enhance and develop public venues to generate additional visitor demand.

Preserve and Enhance the Beach

  • Preserve and protect the water, sand, dunes and access paths.
  • Work with local, state, and federal agencies to secure permits necessary to conduct future beach renourishment activities.
  • Increase awareness of the beach and near-shore areas as wildlife habitat, for sea turtles, shorebirds, etc.
  • Enhance and improve trash removal and beach maintenance activities.
    • Investigate trash receptacles to replace the existing cans that provide the same function that are more visually pleasing
    • Develop an Adopt-A-Beach program to encourage partner and stakeholder support for beach maintenance and protection.
    • Discourage littering of all types, including glass bottles and cigarette butts on the beach and beach access points.
  • Public Information – Beach & Surf Conditions
    • Create materials to educate travelers about the beach and surf conditions, including surf conditions, leave no trace ordinance (signs, maps, website, guides, in-room video).
    • Enhanced Beach & Surf Patrols to increase public awareness of surf conditions, rip currents, Leave No Trace Ordinances, and other issues of importance to beach goers.
  • RESTORE Act/NRDA
    • Work with Bay County and local stakeholders on environmental enhancement and restoration projects that benefit Panama City Beach, St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico

Enhance Visitor Experience

  • Deliver on the destination brand – “Real. Fun. Beach”. Most aspects of the PCB community should enhance a family vacation experience.
  • Collaborate with local governments and community leaders on policies that enhance the perception of Panama City Beach as a hospitable, safe, fun, beautiful vacation destination.
  • Enhance local transportation systems to ease visitors travel to and throughout the destination.
    • Gateways that deliver on the brand, welcome and direct travelers to information.
    • Directional signage – keep visitors moving efficiently through the community.
    • Road infrastructure and traffic enhancements – move traffic efficiently while protecting the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
    • Landscaping & beautification – a well maintained coastal landscape will inspire pride and better visitor behavior.
  • Encourage the redevelop of abandoned and condemned real estate in primary visitor beach front locations. Improve curb appeal, add new activities/businesses, improved safety.
  • Improve and expand on family attractions and outdoor experiences that complement the brand.

Year-round Destination

  • Expanded and targeted research-based marketing program.
    • Establish marketing priorities by season: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring.
    • Partner with airlines to drive increased fly-in visitation from target markets.
  • Programming of events in shoulder and off season.
    • Festivals and concert events.
  • Expanded team sports and group sales initiatives emphasizing events during slower occupancy periods.
  • Build on fun elements in brand by promoting celebrations of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, reunions, etc. to attract families and groups.
  • Feature ecotourism opportunities, including sea kayaking and snorkeling/diving as unique reasons to visit Panama City Beach that go beyond the traditional beach experience.
    • Encourage the redevelopment of existing attractions and the addition of complementary attractions.

Enhance Public Venues

  • Sports Facilities
    • Expand amateur athletic fields for softball, baseball at Frank Brown Park or new facility.
    • Develop rectangular fields for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and other field sports.
    • Develop multi-purpose facility to host sports tournaments, concert events, exhibitions, boat shows and social events.
  • Utilization of Improvements to Aaron Bessant Park.
    • Work with the City and other stakeholders on events – concerts, festivals, theatrical performances, and athletic tournaments – in Aaron Bessant Park that will drive incremental visitation to Panama City Beach.
  • Encourage development of ecotourism opportunities on West Bay, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, includes but not limited to:
    • Non-motorized boat ramps.
    • A series of artificial reef systems for snorkeling, diving and fishing.
  • Work with local, state and regional stakeholders to encourage the further diversification of Panama City Beach’s tourism economy and environmental restoration through RESTORE Act and NRDA investments.

The Awesome Conservation Park and Trail System You Knew Nothing About

While we’ve been bustling and hustling, the city municipality rolled out a huge conservation park and trail system that winds around a large array of retention ponds and natural Florida forestry   With 24 miles of trails to walk or bike, the trail system offers a very unique opportunity to get to know our local ecosystem.

Location of Conservation Park

The park is located on the west end of the Panama City Beach city boundaries, about a mile west of Highway 79.  If you travel west on Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) and take a right just after you pass the La Quinta Inn, Griffin Blvd will dead-end right at the park.  The entrance to Griffin Blvd is adorned with a St. Joe Commerce Park sign.  Concurrently, Conservation Park is practically at the end of the Gayle’s Trails system that runs along old Power Line Road.

The Trail System

There are 5 trails in all, ranging in difficulty from “easiest” to “most difficult”, and they range in distance from less than 2 miles to 11 miles, respectively.

  • Green Trail: Less than 2 miles
  • Yellow Trail: 4 to 7 miles
  • Blue Trail: 5.2 to 6.5 miles
  • Orange Trail: 9 to 11 miles
  • Red Trail: 11 miles

In all, there are endless options for varying routes through the trail system, and one can easily spend weeks (nay months), seeing all there is to see.  But if you want to stick with the map, there are 12 trails in all mapped out.

The trails were refined from old logger paths that were already cut into the area years ago, with boardwalks being constructed in areas that weren’t dry to make sure everything stayed connected.

View the park brochure and trails explanation here.

The Parks Functional Reason for Being

Aside from being an awesome place to recreate, the park serves a functional purpose that is environmentally beneficial to both west bay and the conservation ecosystem.  Conservation Park totals in area approximately 3,000 acres, which quoting the City’s page on the park, is about twice the area the Bay County city of Parker encompasses.

Further quoting the page: 

In early 2011, after nearly a decade of planning, designing, permitting and constructing, the City completely stopped discharging reclaimed water from the Wastewater Treatment Facility into West Bay. This redirection of water to Conservation Park will protect the water quality of the Bay while helping to restore the altered hydrology of the natural lands at the Park. The City and its residents take pride in knowing they’re leading the way to a cleaner and healthier Bay.

A pump station, designed with the ability to pump up to 18,000,000 gallons of highly treated water per day, was constructed at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility on the north end of Gulf Boulevard. The pump station includes two pool areas (wetwells) to collect water not used for irrigation in the City. Once collected in the pools, pumps send the water through a 3 foot diameter pipe to Conservation Park.

There are a total of six pumps at the pump station–2 small pumps and 4 large pumps. The small pumps are designed to operate when flow at the Wastewater Treatment Facility are low such as late at night. The larger pumps will be used during high flow times such as in the morning, during summer months, and holiday weekends. Each pump includes a motor at the top that drives a vertical turbine pump which extends down into one of the pools.

The pump station site is also the location of the Gulf Boulevard Trail Head which is part of the City’s Gayle’s Trails System. This area includes a public parking lot and trail signage and information for Trail users accessing the Trail System from this location.

Transmission Main Pipe

A 3 ft (36 in) diameter Transmission Main pipe carries the reclaimed water from the City’s Reclaimed Water Pump Station five miles to Conservation Park. The installation of this pipe included bends and valves weighing more than 7000 pounds each. The Transmission Main route was completed with a paved trail on top of the pipe. This trail is part of the City’s Gayle’s Trails System with connections to the Highway 79 Trail, Frank Brown Park Trail, and Gulf Boulevard Trail Head. The base material beneath portions of the asphalt is crushed concrete recycled and reused from the former Fiesta Motel on Panama City Beach.

Public Building

A 4,400 square foot building was constructed at the southeast corner of the Park. This building functions as a shelter for Park users and provides public restroom facilities. The building also provides a useful space for City staff and equipment needed to keep the Park maintained for all residents and tourists. The 3 foot diameter Reclaimed Water Transmission Main divides into four different, smaller pipes inside the building. The manifold of the 3 foot diameter Reclaimed Water Transmission Main is located in a concrete pit inside the southwest corner of the building and divides the flow of reclaimed water into one of four areas in the Park. Each of the four pipes are color coded to coincide with a specific area in the Park and each area receives water on a rotation to rehydrate the wetland during different times of the year. The building includes three garage work areas and employee offices used to maintain and operate equipment necessary to properly run and maintain the Park. A chemical storage tank used as a final treatment method for the reclaimed water and a back-up power generator for the building are also located on the site.

Wetland Rehydration

There are 14 different discharge structures strategically placed around the Park to help distribute and rehydrate the wetlands on site. The hydrology of the site was altered during silviculture activities when the vegetation was changed and a large ditch dredged down the center of the Park site. Flow to the different discharge structures is rotated from the Control Building during different growing seasons during the year. Reuse water from the Control Building is conveyed through one of four pipe systems ranging in pipe size from 15 to 30 inches. The pipes follow along trails in the Park and terminate at one of the discharge structures.

What do you think?

Tell us in the comments what you think of the park.  Have you been there?  Share with us some of your experiences you’ve had there.