Innisfree Hotels has announced the upcoming opening of the beachfront Holiday Inn Resort in Fort Walton Beach.
Located at 1299 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, the new family resort offers beachfront event space and pool, just minutes from local restaurants, attractions and upscale shopping.
“We are thrilled to be opening this hotel after six years of working on the project,” said Rich Chism, director of development for Innisfree Hotels. “The best part of my job is watching children’s faces light up when they enter the lobby and realize this is their hotel. We strive to deliver a ‘wow’ factor and help families create memories together.”
Indeed, creating memories is the Innisfree mission, and this new resort — the only one of its kind between Pensacola and Panama City — will be no exception. Between the pool’s lazy river, hot tub and waterfall; family suites with private balconies overlooking the ocean; supervised children’s activities including interactive mermaid and pirate shows; 24-hour fitness and business centers; 2,500 sq. ft. of special event space, and many other resort amenities provide ample opportunities for memories in the making.
The 17-acre tract of land the hotel was built on was previously home to a 1,200 sq. ft. cinder block building equipped with a receiver for tracking Air Force maneuvers along the coast.
Julian MacQueen, Innisfree’s founder and CEO says, “By far the biggest challenge in developing this site was negotiating the Enhanced Use Lease with the United States Air Force. Because it marks the first public-private lease of Air Force land, the process extended over four years. The concept was born of the idea that the Air Force could generate revenue on underutilized land that maintained a strategic purpose for our military.”
Innisfree negotiated an innovative design, which would allow the receiver to remain in use from a new perch atop the resort. So when you visit the Holiday Inn Resort and you spy a giant, whimsical beach ball on the roof, you are actually looking at the Air Force receiver. Part of our negotiations require the hotel to give a 50 percent discount off the per diem rate for military personnel. Therefore, Innisfree has set aside 4,000 room nights each year for military servicemen and women to enjoy a first-class resort experience that may otherwise be out of reach.
In addition to this benefit, the resort will pay a percentage of all revenue to the Air Force designated exclusively to capital improvements to boost morale and welfare on Eglin Air Force Base. In advance of the percentage rent, Innisfree Hotels already has made a $1 million initial payment to the Air Force, which will be used to improve Eglin’s living quarters and recreational facilities. MacQueen says, “This has been one of the more gratifying aspects of this development.
“I grew up spending my summers in this area and always believed that the USAF had the best piece of property on the Gulf Coast. We were proud to be selected as the company to maximize its potential for the public while honoring those who have served our country.”