Hotel near ECP garners a lot of passenger traffic

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 9:23 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport isn’t the only place in Bay County that sees a lot of passenger traffic these days.

Hotel management at Hilton Garden Inn Panama City Airport said the place is now a proven asset for travelers. That’s because of the hotel’s close proximity to ECP. It’s just a little more than a mile down the road.

“We’re so close to the airport,” Katja Chatfield, General Manager of Hilton Garden Inn Panama City Airport, said. “So weather-related delays or cancellations are always a little bit in our favor because then we get additional guests checking-in with us.”

The Hilton opened in June of 2021. However, Chatfield said the place caters to more than those who are just hitting the beach.

“We also consider ourselves a little bit of a business hub,” Chatfield said. “We really have seen an uptick in a lot of business travel and actually meeting-room rentals.”

That business element is something the general manager said plays a positive role in the area.

“So for us, even though we do obviously see an uptick in the summertime just like everybody else, we are also very steady in the off-season because business travel is really our strong suit here,” Chatfield said.

Some folks also opt to stay at the Hilton while their homes are being built nearby. However, hotel management said its closeness to ECP is something that gives it a competitive edge above everything else.

“As travel sometimes gets a little bit tricky with weather delays and other situations, we are right here - only four minutes down from the airport,” Chatfield said. “[We’re] able to house passengers or even people who are flying out really early in the morning.”

The hotel and airport don’t intend on slowing down anytime soon. Airport officials reported around 1.5 million passengers went through ECP in 2022.