PANAMA CITY BEACH — Mel Leonard, building and planning director for Panama City Beach, says new hotels are important because they create opportunities for the city to collect more lodging fees from the millions of tourists who flock to the beach every year.
As of Friday, the St. Joe Company, a major land developing group located in Panama City Beach, had three hotels under construction across Bay County — two of which sit in Panama City Beach.
The planned hotels include Embassy Suites by Hilton, located next to Pier Park; Homewood Suites by Hilton, located near the Panama City Beach Sports Complex; and Hotel Indigo, located at the Panama City Marina.
"We like to think our city is business-friendly regardless if we are dealing with a small or large landowner or developer," Leonard wrote in an email. "Because the St. Joe Company is such a large landowner, it only stands to reason that they are an integral part (of) the growth and development of our city."
Construction rolling: on new Panama City Beach hotel near Pier Park
He also said that Embassy Suites in particular will create "a great walking opportunity for visitors," who will be able to "enjoy shopping, eating out, and going to the beach without ever getting in their car."
According to David Demarest, hospitality spokesman for the St. Joe Company, Embassy Suites broke ground in August 2019 and should open this fall, Homewood Suites broke ground in November and should open this spring, and Hotel Indigo broke ground in March and should open early next year.
Embassy will boast 225 rooms, Homewood will feature 131 rooms and Indigo will offer 124 rooms.
All were strategically designed to complement key amenities throughout the community.
"If you look at where we're building these hotels, (they're all) in prime locations that people are going to want to visit," Demarest said. "Embassy Suites (is) right by Pier Park, (which) is a popular destination and by having (more) people there, they can take part in ... all the great events that go on around Pier Park.
"Hotel Indigo (is) in (Panama City's) waterfront district overlooking the marina, which is a beautiful area that has been underutilized," he added. "That marina ... was built to be a centerpiece for the city ... (and hopefully the hotel will) give people a reason to really get down into the historic waterfront district, (and it will) add a lot of life and vitality to that area."
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Bay County getting 2 new hotels in 2022, another next year