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Marriott Bonvoy beach hotels on the northern Gulf Coast MS/AL/FL

Marriott Bonvoy beach hotels on the northern Gulf Coast MS/AL/FL

Old Feb 11, 15, 3:12 pm
  #1  
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Family friendly beach hotel at Destin or Pensacola or Gulf Shores or Fort Walton

We are looking to drive from Dallas for a nice beach vacation in June/July (5-7 days) in Florida. Do you have any suggestion for good Marriott property at any of the following locations - Destin or Pensacola or Gulf Shores or Fort Walton or another beach town nearby?

Our primary criteria include:
- Family Friendly beach and town (travelling with daughters aged 11 and 6)
- Convenient access to beach

we are fine with any property whether it is Springhill suites or Residence Inn (preferable) or JW or any Marriott property?

Also, it would be great if you could share any recommendations / preference about any of the cities mentioned above.

I tried searching the forums but could find couple of threads about individual hotels only.

Thanks!

Last edited by bajaj_ash; Feb 11, 15 at 3:38 pm Reason: spelling correction
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Old Feb 12, 15, 7:41 am
  #2  
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My family has been traveling to Destin annually since the 40s. (My grandfather used to take my father when he was young there to fish.) Though over the last decade or so, the crowds especially in June/July have gotten much bigger, but it is still a great family beach vacation area. Note we drive over from the Dallas area every July.

It depends on what you want from your vacation. Probably the best beach location for a Marriott in the panhandle would be the SHS on Pensacola Beach. The beach there is beautiful, wide with white fine sand. The SHS isn't a top end resort hotel, but it is nice, fairly new and well kept up. So if you want to be right on the beach that is probably the best Marriott.

There is only one other Marriott that I know is right on the beach and that is the new FFI in Fort Walton beach. I haven't had the pleasure of staying there yet as it has recently opened. If I remember correctly though, the hotel, due to space requirements, it more "perpendicular" to the beach which means only a few rooms could actually be called "Oceanfront". But it also is right on the beach. I personally like the beach in Pensacola a little better than at Ft. Walton beach, but you are very close to Destin and all the activities there (like Big Kahunas). So you might prefer there over Pensacola (not that there aren't things to do there as well.)

There are other Marriott's, but they aren't right on the beach and would require either crossing a street or driving a car to get to the beach. There are a couple of Marriott's (CY and RI) in the San Destin complex. The RI there might provide you with more family "space" than the others, but you would be a couple 100 yards from the beach.

What we have done over the last few years is to split our vacations between Pensacola and Destin. We spend a few nights at Pensacola beach (if you've never been to the Naval Air Museum there, it is something worth checking out). And then take the 399 Beach route all the way to Navarre Beach and then head on over to Destin. The 399 route will be slow (as the speed limit is very low) but it has some beautiful scenery and views.

Also the kids (and you) might enjoy eating at McGuire's once (the original is in Pensacola but there is one in Destin as well). Just make sure to bring a few $1 bills for the kids sign and staple to the walls. I think they have a couple of million $1 bills now stapled to the ceilings and walls between the two stores. (Oh, and read the restroom signs very carefully before going in. )

The we sometimes charter a fishing boat (for the day) and taken the kids deep sea fishing. They love that and while it is more expensive than walking up and down the beach, if you have another family your are traveling with, sharing the expense makes it much more palatable. Another (less expensive) option in Destin is to rent a pontoon boat and head out to Crab island. You don't have to have any sea experience as navigating a pontoon boat is pretty easy and fun for everyone. And as mentioned, don't forget Big Kahunas Water park. And if you go, since you will be there in June (high season) I would suggest pre-renting a cabana. You don't have to fight for any shaded chairs/tables if you rent one of those.

I'm sure others can chime in with more suggestions and options.
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Old Feb 12, 15, 10:39 am
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Thanks a lot hhoope01...

WOW... this is exactly what I needed to know...it is either SHS Pensacola and/or RI Destin now...
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Old Feb 8, 19, 2:22 pm
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Marriott Bonvoy beach hotels on the northern Gulf Coast MS/AL/FL

I'm looking for any and all opinions and reviews of hotels for a beach weekend on the Gulf Coast, say, anywhere between Gulfport MS and Fort Walton Beach FL.

We're just looking to relax, sit on the sand and lie by the pool. Direct beach access is a big plus, as would be any properties where PPE/Titanium might get upgraded to a balcony room.

For a stay this year, I'd love to find a cat 4 to use my last old-chase free night cert, but starting next year, my upgraded card will give a cat 5.

Last year, we enjoyed our stay at the Springhill Suites - Navarre Beach FL. (Currently cat 5).

I also found this thread about Pensacola Beach SpringHill Suites. But that's a cat 5 soon to be cat 6.

Has anyone stayed at either the Fairfield or Courtyard Ft Walton Beach/West Destin? On paper, they look pretty similar. Both cat 4.

Four Points Destin (cat 5)?

Any others I should be considering?
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Old Feb 8, 19, 3:18 pm
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Here is a link to an old Marriott thread covering the area you want: Gulf Coast/FL Panhandle Properties but since it is fairly old, we can use this one as the on-going "area" thread.

I've stayed a few times at the Ft. Walton/Destin 4Pts. It is a 4Pts that "thinks" or wishes it were a resort but it is a fairly old hotel that could use quite a bit of updating/renovating. Four or five years ago, the 4Pts actually had a pretty decent breakfast, but they've cut it back so much it is a pretty poor breakfast now. Of the Marriott properties, the SHS properties you mentioned (plus a new one that should be open in a few months in Panama City Beach) would probably be the best options. The 4Pts does have balcony rooms that face directly on the beach and I've usually been able to get upgraded to one of those. Neither the Ft. Walton Courtyard nor the FFI's rooms have balconies which is probably why they are a category lower than the 4Pts. There is in Panama City Beach the Sheraton Bay Point resort but it isn't really on the beach, but it used to be a fairly nice golf resort. Near Mobile is the Grand Hotel (Point Clear, AL). It is probably the closest to a true Marriott resort along that stretch of the coast, but like the Bay Point resort it isn't really on the beach either.

Personally, if you want a beachfront, balcony room then the SHS's or the 4Pts would be your best options. I have not yet stayed at the Navarre Beach SHS, but I have driven past it as we tend to fly into PNS and then drive out to Pensacola Beach to drive east on 399 through Navarre Beach and then on to Destin. I have stayed at the Pensacola SHS and while it isn't a great big resort, it is a nice beachfront hotel (and I'd guess it is similar to the Navarre Beach SHS.) And both the SHS's are much newer and in much better condition than the 4Pts.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 4:13 pm
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None of the hotel brands are 'Bonvoy', so you might need to indicate which brands you will consider.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by kpfleming View Post
None of the hotel brands are 'Bonvoy', so you might need to indicate which brands you will consider.
The OP is referring to any Marriott Brands IMO
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Old Feb 9, 19, 4:10 pm
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Yes, I was looking across all brands, anyplace I could redeem points and/or get elite recognition.

One that looks interesting is the SpringHill Suites Panama City Beach, a new hotel scheduled to open this July. On the beach with direct access. Looks like pretty much all the gulf facing rooms offer balconies. And just a category 4.
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Old Feb 9, 19, 4:25 pm
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We recently stayed at the Pensacola Beach SHS and loved it. Being on the beach and it being a short walk with three kids in tow was clutch. Easy enough to pop back up to the room if we needed to grab something. Were able to walk to a few restaurants for dinner as well.

It was nothing fancy but fit the bill for what we wanted. And the price was right ($107/night last thanksgiving week).
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