Pros: Clean, beachfront hotel for $69 per night, continental breakfast, 2 pools, friendly & helpful staff
Cons: The word "resort" is VERY misleading. Beach plagued with jellyfish and dangerous surf.
It was an unexpected delight to find this beachfront hotel for just $69 per night in the middle of August. The staff was friendly and helpful. They have a complimentary continental breakfast. The hotel is located right on the beach. The rooms are small, but they're clean and provide for basic needs. It is not fancy, but if inexpensive lodging is of paramount importance, this is your place when visiting Gulf Breeze / Pensacola Beach.
An understanding of my perspective is especially important when basing a decision upon this opinion. This entire review is written from the perspective of value. If I had paid $150 per night, I would have rated it considerably lower. Local taxes were 14%, bringing our total to $78.66
In June of 2003, I made my hotel reservations for our mid-August vacation. Our family of two adults and two kids stayed Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the Best Western website (www.bestwestern.com), I found a rate of $69 per night (double)... much lower than their standard rate of $149. AAA published rates are $149 or more. Travelocity or Expedia may be helpful as well, but if you can't find a rate under $100, I strongly recommend researching other local hotels.
The Word "Resort":
My understanding of the word "resort" is... a hotel that not only provides a room for vacationers, but many other on-site amenities and activities such as a golf course, restaurant, whirlpools, horseback riding, fishing, nature trails, etc. The Best Western Resort Pensacola Beach has none of the above on site. Putting it kindly, their liberal use of the word "resort" is very misleading. I'm still puzzled as to why they chose to use the word in their name. Maybe it's because Best Western reasons that their visitors will spend most of their time on-site because of the beach access... but if that were the case, then every beachfront hotel / motel in the world could just as honestly call itself call itself a "resort". Who knows? This hotel has small but clean rooms, two pools, easy beach access, a free breakfast, laundry facilities... but not much more, as the word "resort" might imply. Fortunately, I researched this hotel extensively beforehand (Yes, I was attracted by the word "resort"), so I had a good idea of what to expect. We were not disappointed with our accomodations. In fact, I was a bit relieved when we arrived, because I feared there might be some "catch" associated with our $69 dollar rate.
This 3-story hotel has a total of 123 rooms. All rooms have exterior access, although the upper floors are accessible by elevator. Because of Mom's difficulty walking, we requested (when making reservation) and were granted a bottom-level room. The rooms are what is typically expected from a budget hotel... minimum but adequate. Ocean view rooms are available. Our room was comfortable by budget hotel standards. It was kept clean. At the entrance, in front of the only window, the room has a ~3 ? foot round table. We had two comfy queen-size beds. We had about three feet between the foot of the beds and the drawers and TV. It was tight. The bathroom was incredibly small. The clearance between the bathroom door and the toilet was about ? inch. The room appeared to be clean and the housekeepers did a fine job sweeping up the sand that we inevitably tracked in. They didn't stock enough towels in the room, but extras were available at the front desk. Our room had a refrigerator and a microwave, so we could refrigerate and reheat our restaurant leftovers and maybe an item or three from their free continental breakfast.
Since it usually costs at least $15-20 to feed a family of 4 for breakfast at Denny's or Cracker Barrel, a free breakfast is an important factor when I choose a hotel. This Best Western had many of the usual continental breakfast items... coffee, cold cereal, milk, juices, cinnamon rolls, donuts, bagels, apples, oranges, bananas, etc. The lobby has 5 or 6 small tables, but if they're all taken, the staff didn't seem to mind if you took your breakfast back to your room. Breakfast was available from 6-9 AM.
The front desk staff were friendly and helpful both day and night. The housekeepers were also friendly.
The hotel has two small outdoor pools... a shallow kids pool, and an "adult" pool 3-10 feet deep. The staff diligently kept both pools clean.. An ample supply of tables and pool furniture is on hand.
Two beach chairs / lounges underneath a beach umbrella could be rented for $4.00 per hour or $22.00 per day from a business independent of the hotel. The clean white sand beach is very beautiful, but swimming conditions were terrible during our visit. Although we experienced mostly sunny skies, the beach was under a red flag (i.e. no swimming permitted) for about half of our 4-day visit due to a tropical storm farther south in the Gulf Of Mexico. Even under green and yellow flags, the strong currents carried us quickly downshore, and at times away from the shore. Upon entering the water, the beach dropped off very quickly, so we couldn't walk very far into the water and still touch bottom. Therefore, boogie-boarding was very difficult. We were all repeatedly stung by jellyfish. The stings hurt, but they weren't as painful as some other jellyfish... and they occurred frequently... maybe 4 or 5 times an hour. The beach is patrolled. In fact, we saw them ticket some moron who ignored the red flags and decided he was going to try to surf. If you normally don't spend much time in the water, the beach is very nice. There's great shell hunting at low tide. We fed the seagulls and had them swooping down to eat out of our hands, and we hunted crabs along the shore after dark.
The hotel parking was easy and plentiful during our visit. Pensacola Beach is fairly small. Everything is within a five minute drive, but parking can be difficult at times. Also... Keep an eye out for red ants. These Florida ants are small, but they pack a wallop!
It's clean and comfortable and will address your basic needs, but it's hardly a "resort." It's a well-maintained budget hotel on the beach. Nothing more. Don't spend over $100 per night, and don't spend too much time in the ocean. Otherwise, enjoy your stay!
Best Western Resort Pensacola Beach
16 Via de Luna
Pensacola, Florida 32561
Best Western Website: www.bestwestern.com
Pensacola Beach / Gulf Breeze Destination Review
To see photos of our Pensacola Beach experience, please check out my travel website:
My other Florida reviews:
Everglades National Park
Motel 6 - Fort Lauderdale (BLEEECCHH!)
Dry Tortugas National Park