Oyster knows what travelers look for in hotels. When we review properties in person around the world, we evaluate how every feature stacks up against the competition, from the rooms to the pools to the restaurants. So if you’re planning a getaway and need a place to start, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at our expert top picks for value in the Florida Panhandle and get inspired!
This Holiday Inn Resort has an oceanfront location in Panama City Beach. There are many amenities here geared towards families, including the large kids' play pool, a game room, Splash the dolphin mascot running around, and the best part -- kids at the resort eat free. Rooms are fairly typical for a Holiday Inn beach hotel, with fresh bedding, and convenient extras such as full-size fridges and microwaves; the balconies featuring gulf views are perhaps the biggest draw. Beyond attracting families, this hotel also has a reputation for spring breakers. The pool is a nice size and the beach has lots of comfortable lounge chairs. While the hotel doesn't offer the very lowest rates in the area (Cabana Cay's are lower), it offers the most bang for your buck with its oceanfront location (a rarity for the price) and affordable rates (which include freebies such as Wi-Fi).
Cabana Cay is a no-frills condo-style resort in Panama City. The pool and outdoor spaces are large and attractive, but the view of the Gulf is interrupted by unsightly industrial space and another resort property. Cabana Cay lacks features such as a lifeguard and a restaurant or pool bar. The condo scheme means that service is on the scarce side, but units do have full kitchens as well as washers and dryers. This basic but adequate resort is best for families or couples looking for value over service (after all, it has some of the lowest rates in the area) and a decent jumping-off point for the nearby attractions.
Sterling Resorts' Laketown Wharf is a massive 720-room resort located across the street from the beach. Spacious condos offer big kitchens, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, and washer/dryers, but not all units have ocean views. This sprawling property has five pools -- including a rooftop pool with beautiful views of the beach -- and a charming kiddy pool. Along with a huge lakefront boardwalk, there's also a children's playground, meditation garden, and big fitness center. One unique feature is a nightly light and water show starring dancing fountains. The hotel's reasonable rates are generally slightly lower than those at the competing Holiday Inn Resort.
As the name hints, the Shores of Panama by Oaseas Resorts sits right on the lovely white sands of Panama City Beach. Each of the 796 rooms offers balconies with beautiful ocean views, a full-size kitchen, and washer/dryer. A huge pool deck features a sprawling free-form pool and tall tropical palm trees, providing a tranquil feel despite the resort's size. There are special activities here for kids including face painting, movie nights, and Rock Band tournaments. The fitness center is modern, if a bit dark, with cardio machines featuring individual TVs, and there's a full-service spa. The decor and maintenance of units varies widely; some guests may end up with a somewhat dated (although still clean) condo -- but that's where the deals can be found.
The Carillon Beach Inn is a 70-room, all-suite property with modern furnishings and sharp decor located on Lake Carillon in a sprawling, village-like resort complex. While the location doesn't offer direct beach access, the sand is less than a five-minute walk away, and guests get access to the many amenities of the Carillon Beach resort community. Suites are immaculately clean and comfortable with kitchenettes featuring stainless steel appliances. Cute, playful touches include sand dollar and fish-patterned pillows and chairs. Some suites have lovely fireplaces and outdoor private whirlpools, while all are equipped with flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. Considering the long list of amenities and the high-style rooms, the hotel offers reasonable rates.
This trendy Holiday Inn may not stray far from the ordinary, but it does provide a contemporary, comfortable place to stay. The lobby is furnished with eclectic textiles and artwork, a big flat-screen TV, and decorative fireplace. Modern furniture and vibrant colors make the hotel feel more upscale than some chains. Each of the 114 rooms features a colorful accent wall, and big, comfortable beds with crisp white linens, but generic bathrooms with shower/tub combos. Amenities include a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and an outdoor pool. This Holiday Inn is a great value pick for travelers looking for close proximity to the airport rather than the beaches.