Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bay Point Wyndham Resort-Panama City, Florida {A getaway within a getaway}

We arrived home Friday morning at 3 a.m. Yep. 3 A.M.

Lucky for me, I have B to drive and I was the worst driving partner ever because my eyes finally gave in about 1 a.m.  But we made it home safe and sound and the dogs were so happy to see us that they literally peed their pants. Well, they don't wear pants...but you get my drift.

Our summer vacation is usually a few weeks long because we visit family that lives in Alabama and then we head down to the beach. If you have been following me for awhile then you probably know that Panama City Beach is the beach that my parents took us to when we were kids so it only came natural to take my own kids there.

The Florida Panhandle is a place of hidden wonders and outright beauty. Whether you're discovering springs or trekking through squeaky clean, white sand beaches you will find a place that calls to your soul.  The waves and sand are what do me in. Every time. Not sure if I was born a mermaid or not but I've been trying to get back to those roots forever now!

Bay Point Wyndham is a unique way to experience PCB. Nestled along 1,100 acres of a beautiful wildlife preserve along St. Andrew's Bay, a family friendly resort blends into the surroundings. Letting the amenities take center stage, Bay Point Wyndham Resort has five sparkling pools and numerous fitness centers along with a Kid's Club to accommodate a family of any size.

The lobby is sun drenched and welcoming...when the sun is out. When the sun isn't out, the lobby is surprisingly cozy even though the ceilings are a mile high.  Every single representative from Bay Point Wyndham Resort was sweet as can be and were willing to help with anything they could. They were informative and happy. I enjoyed seeing the employees actually enjoying their job.




 Little touches, like the spa water, make a difference when making guests feel at home.
 Plenty of places to lounge and relax in the lobby area

 Kingfish Grill straight through the doorway


Kid' Club. We didn't take advantage of this program but it seemed to be pretty great. Just looking through the windows you could see tons of games and activities. B and I both agree that when we're on vacation together it is to remain together, at least in the same area. But this would be a nice program for those who want to use it.
 

 



 
 
 The gift shop and fitness center are both located right by the lobby

 It seemed everywhere I went throughout the property, I could see the bay. Bay Point Wyndham Resort did an amazing job of making the standout feature  of the land itself.
 Kingfish Grill is located right where the red umbrellas are. We had breakfast there one morning but chose to head out on the town for dinner each night.
I love this picture of the resort from the dock


Bay Point Wyndham is well known for the challenging Nicklaus designed golf course as well as the Meadows course...36 holes to keep your golf lover busy all day long. That is code for: spa day for Mom. I grew up on a golf course so touring the green was very comfortable. It was nice to see how well kept the course is, constantly maintained and visually stimulating with all of the wildlife from the preserve adding to your course experience. The pro shop was well stocked and catered to everyone, including young golfers ready to learn the game. In fact, they had just hosted a Golf Camp for juniors the week before our arrival. Trey Childs,  the golf pro at Bay Point Wyndham Resort, was full of great information on the course, the best holes and he was especially in tuned to his golfers as they came into the pro shop during our meeting.

One of my favorite parts of the course were the native birds that would show up along the course, not minding the golfers (or their carts) at all.

 

 Women's and Junior's golf apparel and shoes were abundant. And cute! As a non golfer, I was surprised at the modern colors and shoe choices.
 Check out those cute hoodies!
 The Member's Lounge was a great little hideaway.

 The displays in the pro shop were vibrant and fun for all golfers to enjoy.
 Trey Childs, Bay Point Wyndham Resort's resident golf pro was nice enough to show me around the pro shop and the course. Club 19 is also located in the same building as the pro shop. They serve breakfast and lunch every day and a weekly dinner.
A view from every hole!  Whether the wildlife is what you're looking for a beautifully designed challenge, Bay Point Wyndham Resort has it all.









 



After checking out the golf courses we went to one of my favorite places, the spa!  Serenity Spa is located within Bay Point Wyndham and was a beautiful surprise to stumble upon. A state of the art fitness room is situated with the best seat in the house, a massive bay window overlooks a sparkling pool large enough to accommodate guests while still allowing personal space with gazebos spaced throughout the gates.
The spa itself was a welcome cool down from outside, with it's calming color palette and d├ęcor I felt immediately at ease and really wished I had thought ahead and made an appointment. Needless to say....I never got to make it to the spa....biggest regret of our stay there. But there's always next year! I met Olga while I was touring Serenity and she was the sweetest! She had everything looking perfect throughout the Women's Locker Room/Spa from the sauna to the gorgeous massage rooms...can't look at the pictures too long because I get sleepy just thinking about it.
Check out their happenin' digs.


 Reflections Pool







 This sauna felt amazing...even after being outside in the sticky heat...I could handle this kind of pampering.


 Couples massage??  Yes, please.
 This facial room is calling my name. And my pores.

And again...that pedicure chair looks pretty lonely without me in it.


Let's be honest....my kids could care less about the spa and the golf course...they want the water, people!  Pool, bay, beach, Gulf....whatever they want it all.

Good thing we stayed at Bay Point Wyndham Resort because they had plenty to choose from.  Our rooms were perfectly situated right in front of the pool and a few steps away from the other three other pools!
The rooms were very clean and well decorated with a plush bed and the most amazing pillows to ever lay my head on. The mini fridge in the room is a must when you have kiddos.  We also kept some OJ in the fridge because B is diabetic and that is a major necessity. The room stayed nice and cold just like we like it. We were on the first floor in two beautiful Lanai rooms and we did not once hear people above us. That, in itself, is a miracle. Outside of our rooms we had a great patio set where we enjoyed breakfast a few times while looking out at the pool and the bay.

 The bathrooms were all very clean and had plenty of toiletries to use...even hair conditioner. Why is it that some hotels do not supply hair conditioner?? That bugs me. TIP: Toiletries we don't use while we're there I bring home and throw in a basket to prep for summer camps and sleepovers.
 The kids had their own (adjoining) room this time and I've gotta tell you....that's the way to go!  Loved it!
 Our patio.
 You guys will find this funny....so T was helping the hubs bring in all the luggage/snacks/usual crap and we noticed that he put all of his bags in the room with the ONE king bed. B tells him-Hey, you're in the room with your brother and sister. This room is for your mom and me. --Well, he was shocked!  What?  I have to share a room with other humans who happen to be family members? Ick.
 
 Our room without the teen invasion.
Like I mentioned before, the pool was literally right in front of our room. My first thought when I noticed this was that we would be probably be woken up by the sounds of splashing and screaming children but that didn't happen. Not once did I hear anyone in the pool while I was in our room.

The kids loved how close it was and I loved that it didn't feel like a big ordeal when they wanted to go swimming. We would just grab a towel and go, you didn't have to lug a whole pool bag down there to prepare for the day.

 Our rooms were right there on the bottom floor, first two doors from the left. Perfect location.
 Surrounded by plenty of palm trees and pretty landscaping, the pools blended in without seeming out of place. A seamless transition for everyone from pool to pool especially with the little bar, Flip Flops in between two of the pools. You could order everything from an adult beverage to snacks for the kids.
 
 Bunnies, bunnies everywhere. The perks of staying on a wildlife preserve.
Our rooms sweet rooms for a few wonderful days......
 G is showing you guys where the indoor pool is.

 G and I took another stroll along the pools on our last day. It was sunny out and you just have to see how massive this property is. I love that you don't feel that though. It flows very nicely and doesn't feel overwhelming at all. This is the pool in front of our rooms.
 The dock on a beautiful sun soaked morning.
 Reflections pool was looking refreshing. With a zero depth entry, this would be the perfect pool to visit if you have little ones that aren't quite ready to take the plunge but want to splash around in the water.
 The hot tub is huge....perfect for large families to enjoy....or late night teenager hangouts. You know, whichever.
 Flip Flops looking ready to serve.
 
This is the view while sitting on our little patio...the pool, the bay...perfect.
 It rained on us off and on the entire time we were in Florida but it was never an all day event. That's Florida weather for you...much like Texas weather.
 My little fish.
 Goofy girl.

 The indoor pool was right next to our building but the kiddos never used it, I think it was just too closed in for us. We need the sunshine in this family!
 He looks super cool, right?
 Ah, vitamin D!
The gazebo was a hot property for shade seeking grandparents but I loved where all of the chairs were situated.

There were quite a few unique things about this property. One of them would definitely be Lime's, a bar and grill located down the boardwalk. Beyond Lime's is Bay Point Wyndham's private beach area which is also a nice touch. At Lime's you will see the area where you can rent jet skis and pontoon boats or even hitch a ride on the Bay Point Lady...but more on that in a minute.


 There's Lime's!  Isn't that ingenious?  Perfect location on the water but "away" from the resort.


 My bathing beauty walking the boardwalk on a dreary day in PCB.

The private beach was just past Lime's, complete with a shoe caddy and a hose for cleaning off your feet before heading back to the room.

 Looking for hermit crabs.

Now, about the Bay Point Lady.....this was probably my favorite part of our stay. The Bay Point Lady is a complementary shuttle to Shell Island. They have chairs and snacks you can grab on board. If you're not familiar with Shell Island just do me a favor and go sometime in your life....you have to!  It's a gorgeous piece of uninhabited land....situated in the middle of the bay and the Gulf. White sand, amazing sea life, dunes that look like they've been photo shopped, this place is the perfect place to escape to. Make some memories with your family and take pictures.
We have been to Shell Island a few times and I just love it there. It's peaceful to my soul. I can honestly tell you though...we rented a pontoon boat a few years ago and went to Shell Island and it was an amazing experience. After anchoring the boat near the shore we played on the bay side of Shell Island for probably 10 hours. We discovered starfish and sand dollars galore and the water was beautifully calm and clear.
 This time the Bay Point Lady took us up to the bay side but it takes you to a dock (which I had never seen before) and you walk across the dunes along a large boardwalk to the Gulf side of the island. Panama City had been having some pretty rough weather leading up to our arrival and was still experiencing rainstorms sporadically while we were there so the red flags were flying on all of the public beaches, the water had no chance of being calm. We were able to get in the water but kept our kids within an arm's reach. The current was extremely strong and could have swept any one of us up in an instant.


 My pirate :)
 Check out the creeper behind R trying to get in our picture!
 Shell Island



 




 



 Our camp for a few hours...super organized.

 I found a piece of driftwood to park my butt on for a few
 Making mermaids
 My sweet girl






 Yes, that is brothers laughing!  Laughing and making memories. I love it.
Boys.....
 
 
 

My boys and my mermaid.....

 

 

 




 

 
 Wind + wet hair is not always a good thing. I'm trying real hard not to look like a wet dog here. Mission failed but that's okay.


 

 

 


 

 We are pretty good at embarrassing the kids.
 
One of the great things about the shuttle to Shell Island is that it picks up and drops off every 90 minutes, weather permitting, of course. You could stay all day.....or not. I wanted to stay until the last pick up but I was outvoted by the kiddos because the water was too rough to really enjoy any longer. We stayed a few hours and we were sufficiently worn out for the rest of the day.

We all hit the showers when we got back and headed out to Uncle Ernie's, our favorite place to chow down in PCB. We try to eat there at least once while we're in town and grab some Apalachicola oysters for an appetizer if they have any. R even tried raw oysters for the first time while we were there!  She loved them! The crab cake dinner is my favorite thing on the menu, it's huge but the leftovers are definitely fridge worthy if you have anything left.
There is seating outside overlooking the water but we like the comfort of inside, I don't dig plastic chairs. Plus, a giant thunderstorm came through when we were finishing up our dinner so it worked out for us. We usually take pictures outside because of all the great little spots to capture but when the rain blew in we had to settle for goofy inside pictures.





Okay, so now for the nitty gritty.

Is Bay Point Wyndham Resort a good match for your family? 

Yes!

This is definitely an older property but they are doing what they need to make improvements and upgrades. One big disadvantage was the Wi-Fi issue. The only place you have Wi-Fi is in the lobby area. The rooms are set up with a wired connection. Well, most people don't travel with a lot of wires and equipment. If you're like us, you have the iPad and your smartphone. I couldn't even catch a great 3G connection from the room. That being said, I'm sure this one of those things that they will make improvements upon. And...it is a family vacation, we probably shouldn't even be worried about connecting outside of each other but let's get real, we all stay pretty connected.
The rooms were not your typical hotel room, they were huge!  The ceilings were recessed which made the room feel even bigger. We opened our curtains every morning and enjoyed the natural light streaming in and it was perfectly cozy. The bathrooms were split into two areas so you could be brushing your teeth while someone else was in the shower in the other room, when you have lots of kiddos like we do this works because why on Earth would they only use the restroom in their room? Weird.
The Lanai room is a MUST. Opening up to the pool like it did was just too good to pass up. All of the rooms have a balcony with a great view but to have the access we did to the pool areas was perfect. And like I mentioned before, we never heard anyone above us even though I know the hotel was packed. I have stayed in many a hotel and this is probably my biggest pet peeve, even though I'm a mom and I understand that kids run in a hotel room whether upstairs or down....it drives me crazy to hear it!  No paper thin walls at Bay Point Wyndham, that's for sure.
We enjoyed breakfast at Kingfish Grill on our last day and we all had the buffet. You can basically order anything off the menu for the buffet so it just makes sense. The guys special ordered omelets while I thought the grits and sausage gravy were perfectly done. I glanced at the menu for dinner at Kingfish Grill while we were there and I was pleasantly surprised, the prices were reasonable. I don't know why I had it in my head that they would be outstanding but they were just normal dinner prices.
We like to go out on the town to local favorites while we're in town so it just wasn't a choice for us at night. I'll give you tips on that in a minute.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort really does aim to please and has something for everyone. I can't get over the genius of the complimentary Shell Island shuttle or the little bar and grill out on the dock to make you feel  like you're out on the town when you're just mere steps from your hotel. Although, I think Lime's is only open in good weather. It was storming on and off our first day there and we went down before sunset (their usual closing time) and everything was closed up.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort is located in a perfect little area of Panama City, known as the quiet side of the beach, you can find plenty of great places to eat and shop. The turn off to the resort from Thomas Dr. is in between Winn Dixie and Publix so it is no problem to grab snacks and drinks on your way in or out. We stocked up our little fridges in both rooms with drinks for all of us.

Would we go back to Bay Point Wyndham?

I would absolutely love to go back for a family reunion of sorts. It would be the perfect setting to get together with family where you're not on the busy PCB strip but still able to find great food and fun. With plenty of pools to please every member of the family, a luxurious spa to pamper everyone in need, a free shuttle for a day trip excursion, and restaurants on site to choose from....it has everything you need for a successful getaway.

Now, looking for places to eat while in PCB?
I've given this hint before but I'll give it again and again. Check out the license plates in the parking lot if you are wondering about the place. More Florida plates than out of towners? Go for it. Zero Florida plates but massive amounts of tourists?  Adios.

Our first day we were all craving a good burger and I immediately noticed a tiny little burger shack called Flamingo Joe's. The rain was crazy that day and the parking lot was empty but the sign said it has been in business for 24 years...come on!  24 years...they've got to have something good. They did. This is real food. Not food that was previously frozen and then reheated, which sadly is what most restaurant food is. The boys had fish and chips that looked amazing and the rest of us had a nice, juicy burger with fries. Craving satisfied. Loved the people running the place and they even gave us some tips on their own favorite local places to eat. One of which was Uncle Ernie's, of course.
This place was kitschy and cute, the walls were lined with albums and flamingo paraphernalia. They had books and games for customers to enjoy while they waited. There were accolades for Best Eats and Best Burger all over the place. Flamingo Joe's was even voted Best Burger by Southern Living. Perfect burger joint found. We will be back again.
 Love rainy day adventures!



Ah, Americana.

Another great place to check out; J. Michael's. This place has been around forever!  This is evident in all of the funky cool pictures on the walls and the decorated dollar bills flooding the place.  The shrimp basket was the bomb. The waitress was great and the prices were pretty normal for a beach town seafood place. The corn fritters I could have done without, I like a hushpuppy, not a funnel cake. Ask for extra fries instead.


Another surprise find was the pizza place. Joey's on the Beach is basically attached to a gas station near the resort and it was a total desperation dinner that turned out to be awesome.
Authentic Italian pizza done right with huge slices of pizza, real Italian sausage and the dough was super fresh...drooling just thinking about it. They deliver too! Tip: grab some paper plates and a roll of paper towels before checking into any hotel....you will eventually need them if you have kids. Promise.

Speaking of fun places, check out Pieces which is near the resort as well. Cool antique place with lots of new stuff too. Need an ornament or shells to take home for gifts?  They've got it and probably cheaper than all of the touristy junk shops lining every beach town. Better made as well. We found quite a few cool things there.

I hope you guys can enjoy a trip to Panama City Beach at least once in your life, it's a fun little beach town full of all kinds of local flavor. We steer clear of the strip but do like to hit up Pier Park while we're there. We missed out this time because we just ran out of time....plus the weather was pretty yucky.

We loved Bay Point Wyndham and I will be recommending it to friends looking for a place a little off the beaten path with families in mind. There are plenty of packages Bay Point Wyndham offers to help you out!







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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