Finding a condo on the Gulf Coast that is pet friendly, reasonably priced AND kid approved can be quite the challenge! I speak from first hand experience. In the past, we would beg grandparents to keep our fur baby or go the boarding route. However, the last time I utilized animal boarding services, my then geriatric maltese suffered a severe case of separation anxiety, his health declined rapidly afterward and he passed on within three weeks, not to mention the pricey bill sustained for a week’s worth of doggie daycare. Furthermore, we already feel we place an undue burden on our parents when we beg them to keep three kids for a night alone, so asking them to watch after our fur child seems somewhat excessive at times.
Since welcoming Bella the Shinese and her brother into our family last Christmas, and then the unfortunate incident of losing her better half, we have grown very attached to our fourth child and, frankly, we prefer that she be able to tag along with us. Consequently, when looking for vacation rentals along the Gulf Coast we decided on specific criteria and we lucked out last week! It was a fabulous experience.
#1 – Pet friendly, yet classy clean (some pet friendly condos are older and not kept up well)
#2 – Beach front condo, and I mean DIRECTLY on the beach (no streets to cross and dolphin watching a go)
#3 – Low rise condominium with little crowds (Under 12 stories, minimal elevator weight times and no claustrophobic situations!)
#4 – Decent sized beach front pool, because who wants to share a tiny 5′ x 5′ wading pool with 20 other children?
#5 – Kid approved. In our house, our children define a “kid approved” condo as one having a hot tub, bunk beds or a sleeper sofa, flat screen TVs and, let’s NOT forget the top amenity for kids these days…FREE wi-fi. In our house, parents define “kid approved” as no one jumping off balconies, enough entertainment to keep the animals from killing each other and mom and dad having enough room to breathe.
#6 – Reasonably priced. My nemesis is when a resort taunts low nightly rentals and you spend 30 minutes selecting the perfect condo, complete all blank friends of the application, hit “Checkout” and then BOOM…$800 of fees are tacked onto the final price. Grrr. Not cool.
Our family just returned from a five day vacation at Pelican Walk Condominiums in Panama City Beach, FL and if I could sum up the experience in one word it would be “EASY”. Everything was just easy. When you have three wild kids and a youthful pup, you NEED easy.
By the way, I get ZERO kick back for recommending this place. I’m just writing a review to help out my fellow man. You are welcome. 🙂
The resort offers 3,2 and 1 bedroom rentals and individual condos may be viewed at Pelicanwalkrentals.com or various other search engines, such as vrbo.com. Some are pet friendly and some are not. Most are up to date and renovated, some are not. We rented directly with the resort and found the staff to be very courteous and laid back.
So, here are our observations from our trip to this resort from a parent’s perspective.
#1 – 1 Bedroom Pet Friendly Condo: Our unit was on the eighth floor and 1 bedroom condos have smaller balconies than 2-3 bedrooms, yet still spacious.. All units have unobstructed views of the Gulf. Furthermore, our unit was up to date with flat screen TVs, comfortable beds, 2 bathrooms, a fully stocked kitchen and FREE wi-fi. One nice perk of the layout is that the master bedroom is down the hall from the sleeper sofa area and there is plenty of room for a Pack ‘N Play in several areas of the condo if needed. We felt it imperative to contain our caboose child and he ended up sleeping in our room…AWAY from the balcony. A simple lock on the door can’t stop our inquisitive beast! We had renters on both sides of us with small children and never heard them. Thick walls…check.
#2 – Elevators: They were NEVER crowded and it was Memorial Day weekend. PLENTY of luggage carts. There are only 10 floors in the building and it only took seconds to get from the 1st to the 8th floor. You could park, walk to the elevator and be in your room within a couple minutes. EASY.
#3 – Grounds: Professionally maintained and very clean. The parking lot concrete has some wear and tear but overall it was laid out well. There is a pet walk area at the end of the parking lot, beside the tennis courts. This resort is not brand spanking new, but it isn’t ancient either. It is very well maintained.
#4 – Renters: Surprisingly, the resort was NOT CROWDED, even though it was SOLD OUT. We assumed that approximately around 1/3 of the owners may not rent out at all and just happened not to travel to their condo that week. The renters we encountered were either families just like us or older couples with their small dogs. Everyone was friendly, the kids made nice with other kids at the pool and, as mentioned before, it was never congested.
#5 – Location: Historically, we tend to rent in Destin, FL (which we still love) but had trouble finding a pet friendly resort for our desired dates and with our aforementioned criteria. Pelican Walk Resort is located on the west side of Panama City Beach, is in very close proximity to St. Andrews State Park (campgrounds are pet friendly but not the beach), Schooner’s and Captain Anderson’s restaurants and doesn’t tend to experience near as much congested traffic as most encounter only a mile or so farther east. For example, when overlooking our balcony, the beach area directly in front of the condo was never packed, but when looking three resorts over to the east, the people all began to look like a colony of ants.
#6 – Pool and Hot Tub: The pool is directly on the beach and the hot tub is close by, located just a a few steps away in an enclosed building. Restrooms are conveniently located at the pool and also at the hot tub area. Hyper-vigilant mom side note: 1) The pool is just the right size for a parent to rescue a struggling child to safety. Literally, you can make one large leap in any direction and the kid is in your arms, but still large enough to accommodate a large quantity of swimmers. 2) There is a code activated security gate leading from the hot tub to the pool that will assist containing most small children. My three year old figured it out in 10 seconds and bolted to the elevators, attempting to retrieve a toy he forgot to bring down. He is stubborn, smart and FAST. However, a security gate gives a parent an extra few seconds to capture their Tasmanian devil/angel child.
#7 – Cost. Even with the $150 pet fee, our four night rental cost was $500-$1000 cheaper than most all other pet friendly rental inquiries we researched. Prices may be viewed on the resort website and deeper deals may be found renting directly from owners.
In conclusion, our family highly recommends Pelican Walk Condominiums for a pet friendly, kid approved vacation at Panama City Beach because it was EASY, enjoyable and low stress. Lastly, there is coffee available 24/7 right across the street at Waffle House. Kids feast upon waffles and parents inhale necessary quarts of caffeine. Always a win win!