PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is setting sky-high records for passenger traffic. But in the past, all those travelers didn’t have a nearby place to stay during those long layovers and delays. Until now.

The St. Joe Company announced Thursday the grand opening of the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport.

The new hotel offers 143 guest rooms, as well as a meeting space, and pool. The Garden Grille And Bar will be available to those living and working in the community, as well as visitors and hotel guests. Outdoor patio and fireside seating are available in addition to the inside dining areas.

General manager Katja Chatfield said she’s excited to open the only hotel in the area.

“(Thursday) at 2:15, we flipped the switch and reservations were becoming live for (Thursday) and then two hours later we had our first guest check-in. So it didn’t take long at all for people to find out we were open and I had several calls today of guests telling me ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been watching the website and finally it said you were available and open.’ So there was certainly a need for the hotel right here by the airport,” said Chatfield.

Airport executive director Parker McClellan says the hotel will be a huge benefit to passengers being right down the road.

“Especially I think for those early morning departures or those late-night arrivals so you won’t have them travel a long distance. You can just go right down to the hotel,” said McClellan.

Another benefit of the hotel is they offer rooms for day use for travelers to do laundry, eat, and rest before heading back to the airport that same day.

The hotel is located near the corner of Venture Crossings Boulevard and West Bay Parkway at the entrance of the Venture Crossings Enterprise Center.

Copyright 2021 WJHG. All rights reserved.