Site Visit: Sheraton Bay Point in Panama City, Florida

By Leigh Harper, February 7, 2018

Sheraton Bay Point in Panama City, Florida, wrecked my preconceived notions of the community.

When I was in high school, Panama City Beach was the spring break capital. Never did I dream the area would be high on my list of recommended destinations for a faith-based meeting.

In 2015, Panama City Beach ordered an annual ban on alcohol consumption on the beach for the month of March. This prompted many college students to pick another location for spring break “festivities,” lessening the area’s reputation as a go-to party spot.

Thankfully, alcohol ban or not, Sheraton Bay Point is tucked away from the fray. It’s several miles from the layers of high rise condos, fast pace and flash of downtown referred to as the Strip.

Director of Sales and Marketing Pia Sanders calls it “off the beaten path, but not” because guests are a short car ride away from the amusement parks and restaurants downtown.

The 320-room Sheraton Bay Point is the only AAA Four Diamond Rated Resort in Panama City Beach. The property, built in 1980, just completed a $30 million renovation, and the results are stunning. For meetings, the expansive property has several outdoor settings—including a 9,000-square-foot lawn—for receptions to complement the 60,000 square feet of indoor meeting space.

The conference center has a separate entrance and ample parking, which isn’t the case for many waterfront properties. The convention space includes 22 breakout room options and two ballrooms, one that measures 12,000 square feet and another that’s 8,000 square feet.

I was impressed with the modern aesthetic and updated amenities of the resort. Consider giving your attendees a little wiggle room in the itinerary so they can take advantage of the recreational activities at the three pools, tennis court and golf course.

For outdoor adventures, guests can walk down a boardwalk to the private bay beach or take a boat shuttle to Shell Island, a pristine, untouched island in the gulf. Water sport rentals like paddle boards and jet skis for exploring St. Andrews Bay are available, as well.

Sheraton Bay Point’s chef Shane Miller, who was successful on Food Network shows Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen, wowed us with his thoughtful pairing of entrees that fit the vibe of each of the five on-site dining options. We noshed on burgers and casual fare at Flip Flops Pool Bar one evening but enjoyed lobster with brie macaroni and cheese at the more upscale Tides another evening. Just off the lobby is a Starbucks, the only one in the Bay Point community. Pelican’s, an open-air restaurant, is situated on a pier out in St. Andrew’s Bay, allowing patrons to enjoy the view and sea breeze while they eat lunch or dinner.

With the right planning, your attendees will leave rejuvenated by the serenity of the landscape and fun of the amenities.

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