Panama City hotels still dealing with damage ahead of spring break season

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For some hotels in Panama City, Hurricane Michael and the damage it left behind have overstayed their welcome.

Tim Gray, the Director of Sales for Courtyard and TownePlace Suites by Marriot in Panama City said, "A lot of groups that we've had scheduled for the March time have canceled or have decided not to come because of the damage."

With spring break around the corner, many major hotels near the Panama City Mall and 23rd Street like the La Quinta Inn and the Holiday Inn are still undergoing repairs and renovations.

Local officials are focusing on getting the hotels fixed, even if it means opening them one floor at a time.

Jennifer Vigil, the President and CEO of Destination Panama City said,
"We anticipate a full recovery for ourselves by next year."

In years past, the hotels in Panama City would receive overflow visitors from the beach, and while officials say the economic impact those visitors had was typically minimal, some hotel operators are concerned.

Gray added, "If that compression isn't there, will that family that saved up to go to Panama City Beach, are they really going to be looking at staying in the city as to maybe looking at other destinations?"

According to Destination Panama City leaders, about ten hotels and motels are open in Panama City, including the TowneSuites near the mall.

Destination Panama City officials say after the storm they lost around 70 percent of their room inventory but say they plan to come back stronger than ever.

Vigil said, "We expect about 50 percent of our room inventory to be back open by Memorial Day and about 85 percent by Labor Day. That other 15 percent will be just lost room inventory."

For a complete list of open businesses in Panama City, including lodging, click here.