Top 3 Florida hotels where you can mix business and pleasure

(BPT) – Business trips can take you to some beautiful locations. Why not make the most of these business trips and mix in a bit of leisure as well? Extend your stay after a conference or company retreat so you can relax and enjoy the sights. You can also bring your family and turn a business trip into a memorable family vacation.

If you’re planning your next “bleisure” trip, Innisfree Hotels has several ideal properties for hosting business conferences and family getaways, complete with delicious dining options and plenty of fun in the sun. Below are the brand’s top three hotels in Florida that effortlessly mix business and leisure so you can get more out of your travels — bleisure travels!

Host your next meeting steps from the Atlantic Ocean at the brand-new Courtyard Amelia Island in tranquil and beautiful Fernandina Beach, just 28 miles from Jacksonville International Airport. This bright and modern beachy hotel boasts more than 6,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, with a signature Lighthouse Room that can be divided into three sections, with two additional spaces nearby — perfect for breakout sessions. Other key features of this idyllic property:

  • Conveniently located across from Fort Clinch State Park
  • Walking distance to the beach, short drive to historic downtown
  • The Bistro on-site offers fresh breakfast daily
  • Beautiful pool deck
  • Connected to SpringHill Suites if suites are desired

Directly facing the beautiful emerald-green water of the Gulf Coast, the Hampton Inn & Suites is conveniently located in the center of the action in Panama City Beach. With a total of 1,546 square feet of meeting and event spaces, this hotel is the perfect spot for your board meeting, training classes, retreats, and social events. Here, you can make memories with both family and colleagues with features like:

  • A beachfront pool deck and hot tub overlooking the Gulf of Mexico
  • On-site dining and complimentary hot breakfast served daily
  • Gulf-front breakfast seating and bar
  • Dune walkover to the beach
  • Walking distance of Pier Park, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex

A conference room is more than just a conference room at the Hilton in Pensacola Beach. With more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including second-floor executive conference rooms with a walkout balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, you can inspire your team with a breathtaking beach view. This hotel offers the largest event space on Santa Rosa Island, ideal for hosting business meetings and destination weddings. Everything you need is under the same roof, from food and flowers to entertainment and accommodations. Other highlights: 

  • Two outdoor pools and a hot tub overlooking the Gulf of Mexico
  • Private cabanas
  • Meeting rooms just steps away from the beach
  • On-site dining including Sal de Mar, a poolside tapas restaurant
  • Full-service cafe in the lobby serving grab-and-go baked goods, sandwiches, salads, and Starbucks coffee

You don’t have to compromise. You can work and have fun at the same time when visiting these Innisfree Hotel locations. To learn about these and other properties for business and leisure, visit

Salt, a New Coastal Mediterranean Restaurant, Opens at the Hilton Pensacola Beach

By Melissa de Valcourt

The Hilton Pensacola Beach has unveiled Salt, a beautiful new coastal Mediterranean restaurant that offers an elevated, fine-dining experience. Whether you want to catch up with friends over an al fresco lunch on the restaurant’s patio or are looking to celebrate a special occasion in the restaurant’s welcoming dining room, Salt is the perfect setting to create long-lasting memories over delicious food and drinks. 

The first thing you notice is the welcoming decor, which features natural wood and stone complemented by gold tones and pops of coastal hues that evoke the Mediterranean yet feel at home along the Gulf. In fact, Gulf seafood plays a starring role in several dishes at Salt, where every menu item is made from scratch using fresh and local ingredients. 

Vibrant Mediterranean flavors and culinary traditions come together in Salt’s homemade appetizer dips, which are baked in a stone oven with fresh garlic and served with warm grilled pita. Signature dips include hummus, baba ganoush, crazy feta (has a little kick), and tzatziki. The baba ganoush will win over diners who may think they don’t like eggplant. Creamy and smooth without any seeds or chunks of eggplant, Salt’s baba ganoush is a little smoky and very addicting. 

Another winning appetizer is Salt’s braised octopus, which is flash-fried then slow-cooked to perfection in a citrus olive oil. Served with tzatziki, it’s a bold and fantastic dish that is already a customer favorite, according to Manuel Rodriguez, Corporate Director of Food and Beverage for Innisfree Hotels, which operates the Hilton Pensacola Beach. “You have this perfectly cooked octopus paired with the refreshing yogurt sauce,” he says. “It’s an excellent and different take on preparing octopus.”

Plant-based cuisine also has a place on any Mediterranean menu, and Salt celebrates local produce in ways that will please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Cheesy polenta is cooked to a crispy golden brown and served with house-made mushroom ragu or rustic marinara. The Salt salad combines fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, roasted artichokes, feta cheese and croutons, all tossed with a house hummus vinaigrette. Farm-fresh butternut squash was the base for a recent soup of the day with roasted butternut, mushrooms, garlic and herbs. 

Salt should definitely be on the list of anyone looking for an amazing burger. Top-quality 1855 black Angus beef is the basis for these flavorful patties, which includes a Salt signature selection that comes on a toasted bun with cheddar cheese,arugula, bacon, tomato, pickled onions, and special sauce. “We play with different layers and elements,” Rodriguez says. “When you take a bite, I want you to have crunchiness, creaminess, textures, and different layers of flavors, so you’re like, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’”

The grill section of the menu also features filet, cowboy, tomahawk and other cuts of mouthwatering meat, as well as Duroc pork chops and other options. Can’t decide? A skewer combo brings one filet, one chicken, and one shrimp skewer with a choice of two sides like wild mushrooms, French fries or seasonal veggies.

For seafood lovers, a coastal catch of the day celebrates whatever is fresh and local. Guests at Salt have their choice of having their fresh catch grilled or pan-seared and served piccata-style with white wine, olive oil, butter and lemon juice, or salsa verde-style with olive oil, garlic, white wine and parsley. Salt’s crab cakes are also out of this world, showcasing the chef’s time living in Maryland with a spectacular pairing of remoulade and a touch of beurre blanc.

The Arroz a la Marinara has plenty of fresh seafood with Gulf shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops, all cooked in a delectable seafood broth with saffron and sherry wine-infused rice. You’re going to get lots of seafood in every bite with this one. They like to call it “seafood with a little bit of rice.”

Salt’s full bar offers craft cocktails and an extensive wine list, including suggested food-and-wine pairings. Signature drinks include Salt of the Earth and Barbados Slim. Salt of the Earth combines Maestro Dobel cristalino tequila, Cointreau, sumac, and beet. The Mediterranean flavors of sumac and beet elevate the already excellent Maestro Dobel, a favorite tequila among local guests, and make this libation a highlight of any trip to Salt. Barbados Slim is based on falernum, a Barbados rum-based liqueur, and is a perfect summer sipper thanks to its relatively low alcohol content. The pineapple, orange, and orgeat blend seamlessly, creating a tropical treat that can’t be beaten.

No restaurant menu is complete without a craveable dessert section. Salt’s deconstructed cheesecake is made with goat cheese for a tangy, creamy twist on the original. Salt also rotates various desserts made in-house with the finest ingredients, such as berry cobbler and chocolate lava cake.

“When you sit down, I want you to feel like you are in my house and I’m taking care of you as a guest. I want you to feel welcome, and I want you to come back,” says Rodriguez. “It’ll be elegant, it’ll be fun, but the flavors that you’re going to get will remind you of your grandma’s cooking.”Salt is open daily for lunch and dinner, with the bar open until 11 p.m. For reservations and more information, visit or call 850-343-6791.

Comfort Suites Fernandina Beach Becomes the Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island

Part of Choice Hotels’ Ascend Hotel Collection, the new Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island is a one-of-a-kind boutique property that blends modern design with a beachy vibe.  

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — Innisfree Hotels ( is proud to announce the opening of the new Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island, a modern and beachy boutique hotel located at 2801 Atlantic Avenue in the heart of beautiful Fernandina Beach.  

The Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island stands at the site of the former Comfort Suites Fernandina Beach, which has undergone a significant renovation. The new space features soothing tones of blue and white with palm accents, giving the 50-room property a luminous and stylish atmosphere. High-end finishes and artwork in public spaces and guest rooms add to the overall elevated feel. 

Families, couples, seniors and other travelers will find the conveniently located Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island to be the ideal destination for their beach vacation. Whether relaxing on the beach or exploring Fort Clinch State Park and Historic Downtown, a Fernandina Beach adventure awaits just outside the hotel’s doors.

“We are so excited for guests to experience the Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island and make it their home base while enjoying gorgeous Fernandina Beach,” said Ted Ent, President and CEO of Innisfree Hotels. “We saw the history and potential in this property when we purchased it last year, and it is wonderful to see that vision come to life in such a magnificent way.”

The Surf & Sand Fernandina Beach at Amelia Island is part of Choice Hotels’ Ascend Hotel Collection, which includes historic, boutique and one-of-a-kind properties that are woven into the culture and fabric of their communities, with art and amenities that put local flavor first. The hotel is currently accepting bookings for 2024. For reservations or more information, call 904-261-0193 or visit or

The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach Earns BWH Hotels’ Highest Honor for 2023

The prestigious M.K. Guertin Award is named after the company’s founder and recognizes properties that have achieved exceptional guest satisfaction and hotel performance. 

ORANGE BEACH, Ala.The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach ( was awarded BWH Hotels’ highest honor, the M.K. Guertin Award, at the company’s latest annual convention in Honolulu, presented in front of nearly 2,000 hoteliers.

The prestigious M.K. Guertin Award, named after the company’s founder, recognizes hotels that have best demonstrated exceptional levels of service, quality, value and commitment to the brand. Hotels must also exceed superior quality and service standards and other membership requirements to qualify for the award. The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach is one of just 60 hotels — out of more than 2,300 BWH Hotels locations in the U.S. and Canada — to receive this year’s award, representing the top 3% of properties. 

“It is an incredible honor for The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach to be a recipient of the M.K. Guertin Award,” said Ted Ent, President and CEO of Innisfree Hotels, which manages and operates the property. “It is a testament to our attentive and caring employees, who always go the extra mile to ensure our guests have safe and enjoyable stays while experiencing the Gulf Coast.”  

Located at 26032 Perdido Beach Boulevard, right on the Gulf of Mexico, The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach is a Green Key-certified hotel that features 86 rooms and amenities that are full of Southern hospitality. Whether it be for family, group, business, or solo travelers, The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach is an ideal destination to unwind, explore and recharge.   

“The M.K. Guertin Award is given to our most engaged hoteliers whose properties are top scorers in quality and overall service, thereby being exceptional representatives of our brand,” said BWH Hotels President and CEO Larry Cuculic. “We recognize The Tides Best Western Hotel Orange Beach for inspiring travel through unique experiences and for providing outstanding service.”

For reservations, call the hotel directly at 251-981-9888 or use BWH Hotels’ 24-hour reservation line at 800-780-7234. Reservations are also available online at and


BWH Hotels is a leading, global hospitality enterprise comprised of three hotel companies, including WorldHotels™, Best Western® Hotels & Resorts and SureStay® Hotels. The global enterprise boasts approximately 4,300 hotels in over 100 countries and territories worldwide*. With 19 brands across every chain scale segment, from economy to luxury, BWH Hotels suits the needs of developers and guests in every market. *Numbers are approximate, may fluctuate, and include hotels currently in the development pipeline.


For more than three decades, Innisfree Hotels has expertly developed and managed dozens of hotels in partnership with many of the world’s most-recognized hospitality brands. Today, the company owns or manages more than 27 hotel properties — about 3,500 rooms — and employs approximately 2,000 people. Innisfree is the largest beachfront hotel owner-operator on the Gulf Coast. As a triple-bottom-line company, Innisfree measures success through People, Planet and Prosperity. Innisfree, which has about $800 million of assets under management and $180 million in annual hotel revenue, was named one of Hotel Business’ top management companies and top owners & developers in 2022. For more information, visit   


Mary Eva Tredway

Butin PR

Jeana Dillon, General Manager

Best Western Premier Tides Hotel


Innisfree Hotels Acquires 94-Room Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine-Vilano Beach

The Hilton-branded property, Innisfree’s first in this historic part of Florida, is a seamless fit for the hotel operator’s beachfront and beach-oriented portfolio.  

GULF BREEZE, Fla. Innisfree Hotels (, a best-in-class operator of beachfront hotels and resorts in the Southeastern United States, has completed the acquisition of the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton in St. Augustine-Vilano Beach, Fla. The 94-room property, originally built in 2001 as a high-end condo, is Innisfree’s first hotel in the St. Augustine area. 

“The Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine-Vilano Beach fits perfectly into our beachfront and beach-oriented portfolio,” said Jeremy Skinner, Regional Director of Operations at Innisfree Hotels. “If other great properties like it become available, we would very much like to have more presence in the area.”

Nestled in a lively Art Deco beach town and close to the historic district of St. Augustine, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton is conveniently located near attractions like the Colonial Spanish Quarter, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Park, St. Augustine Beach, and the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, plus lots of great dining options and beautiful scenery within walking distance. The hotel’s many amenities include EV chargers; an outdoor pool surrounded by lush gardens; a fitness center; public beach access; free wifi; an 840-square-foot meeting room; free breakfast for guests; and a retail shop with food, soft drinks, beer, and wine. 

Innisfree Hotels plans to make improvements throughout the property in 2024. A current renovation underway on the beach access area will add a pavilion for events, new restrooms, showers, and much more. The hotel’s 35 employees were all retained through the acquisition. 
The Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine-Vilano Beach is located at 95 Vilano Road in St. Augustine. Reservations are available by calling the hotel directly at 904-827-9797 or booking online at

Innisfree Hotels Promotes Hospitality Veteran Rhiannon Reynolds to a Senior Leadership Role as Vice President of Operations

From her start more than 20 years ago as a hotel’s administrative assistant, Reynolds has proven herself in sales and management positions, preparing her to now oversee all operations. 

GULF BREEZE, Fla. Innisfree Hotels ( proudly announces the promotion of a loyal and talented team member, Rhiannon Reynolds, to the senior leadership position of Vice President of Operations. 

In her new role, Reynolds will help to ensure that Innisfree’s approximately 2,000 employees remain healthy, safe, and happy in their jobs while also delivering profitability through hotel operations. 

VP/Operations is the latest step in a storied hospitality career that began over 20 years ago when Reynolds worked as an administrative assistant at the Radisson Beach Resort and Hampton Inn in Fort Walton Beach. It was supposed to be a temporary detour in her planned career as a higher education fundraiser, but she quickly rose through the ranks — first in hotel sales as a senior sales manager followed by director of sales and regional director of sales, then in hotel management as a general manager and regional manager — and joined the Innisfree team in 2018. 

She was most recently an Innisfree Regional Manager based in Fort Walton Beach; her new position will be based at Innisfree’s Gulf Breeze headquarters. 

“Rhiannon embodies everything we look for in a leader: collaborative, empathetic, and mission-driven,” said Ted Ent, President and CEO of Innisfree Hotels. “We are a better company with her in it, and even more so now that she has taken on this critical senior leadership role as our Vice President of Operations.” 

A graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Reynolds says her communications background has enabled her to solve problems “quickly, calmly, and efficiently” in the hospitality business. She is known at Innisfree for her ability to uncover new revenue sources as well as to build relationships with a range of people. 

“Innisfree’s commitment to our people and the planet creates an environment of support and collaboration that makes me feel motivated and fulfilled at work,” said Reynolds. “I am grateful for this opportunity to put my skills to use on a broader scale for the company.”   

Reynolds shares her skills with the next generation of hospitality professionals and hoteliers as an adjunct professor at Northwest Florida State College. She is passionate about providing employment opportunities for disabled adults and helped the Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Walton Beach win an Exceptional Employer award last year and be the first partner site for Project SEARCH in Okaloosa County. In addition, Reynolds volunteers with One Hopeful Place, which provides services to those facing homelessness in Okaloosa County, and she is an avid supporter of libraries.

When she’s not working or volunteering, Reynolds enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her two teenage children outdoors, on the beach, and watching movies. and Innisfree Hotels Invite Chefs to Join the 1st Innisfree Food Challenge

Local and regional chefs can sign up to compete in three mouthwatering categories on Oct. 15 

for a chance to move on to the World Food Championships in Dallas.  

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — A sizzling showdown of culinary excellence is set to go down at the inaugural Innisfree Food Challenge on Oct. 15, and the competition is open to all local chefs and cooks. It’s FREE for chefs to compete in the three mouthwatering categories — Bacon, Sandwich, and Live Fire — to showcase some of the best kitchen talent in town. 

Presented by and Innisfree Hotels (, the Innisfree Food Challenge will bestow three winning chefs with a coveted golden ticket (valued at $1,000 each) to compete in the World Food Championships in Dallas. Prizes in the World Food Championship in November include $7,500 for each category and $100,000 for the ultimate winner. But that’s not all: Innisfree Hotels will generously cover the winners’ airfare and accommodations in Dallas, too! 

If you are or know of a local chef interested in competing, please email Heather Hice at or Tyler Fay at to register. For more information, visit .

“Food is a huge part of the coastal communities where we have Innisfree properties. Our hope in offering this event is to engage with the Pensacola Beach community, and we are looking forward to seeing what our local chefs will create to showcase their unique talents,” said Manuel Rodriguez, Corporate Director of Food & Beverage, Innisfree Hotels. “I personally cannot wait to see who cooks up the winning food at our inaugural Innisfree Food Challenge next month.”
The night before the main event, celebrity chefs Ronald Burns and John Lindsey will share steak-cooking tips and more during the Fire & Flavors VIP Kickoff Event. Taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Sal de Mar, outside the Hilton Pensacola Beach, Fire & Flavors will include live music, delicious appetizers and demo samples from the chefs, fireworks, and an open bar. Tickets are $75 and available for purchase on Eventbrite.

Innisfree Hotels Promotes Jason Nicholson to Senior Vice President of Development and Asset Management

In 27 years with the company, Nicholson has climbed the ranks from front desk clerk to a top executive, all while maintaining strong ties to local business communities. 

GULF BREEZE, Fla. Innisfree Hotels ( is pleased to announce the promotion of longtime team member Jason Nicholson to Senior Vice President of Development and Asset Management. In his new role based in Gulf Breeze, Nicholson will seek to find and develop opportunities for Innisfree to grow and prosper through new hotel builds and acquisitions. 

“Not only is Jason incredibly talented, he also has deep roots in the Pensacola area and is actively engaged in the business community here,” said Ted Ent, President and CEO of Innisfree Hotels. “We are exceptionally proud of Jason’s journey with Innisfree and are excited to see what this next chapter brings for our guests, team members, and communities.” 

Nicholson is a 27-year veteran of Innisfree Hotels, starting as a front desk associate and working his way up through various leadership positions, including Assistant General Manager, General Manager, Regional Manager, Regional Director of Operations, and Vice President of Hotel Operations. From May 2019 until now, Nicholson was Vice President of Operations, where he was responsible for the oversight of 29 properties while also working closely on acquisition modeling and underwriting, which will serve him well in his new role. 

Having spent most of his career in and around Pensacola Beach and the Gulf Coast, Nicholson has developed strong ties to the local business community. He served for many years on the Board of Directors for the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, and he is a past Chair of the Visit Pensacola Board of Directors. 

“I am honored to take on this exciting opportunity that keeps me present in the communities in which we operate. I inspires me to devote my work to the improvement of the collective quality of life our Team, Guests and the Communities in which we operate. ” Nicholson said. “My career path at Innisfree is a testament to how our senior leaders develop potential talent from within. At Innisfree, the opportunities are plentiful for those willing to make the commitment to explore them will find a well built road to future success.”

Sal de Mar, a Poolside Bar and Grill, Reopens at the Hilton Pensacola Beach with More Space, a Speedy Kitchen, and Signature Food and Drinks

The 68-seat state-of-the-art bar and grill also services the Hilton pool deck and cabanas with crave-worthy food and irresistible drinks following a complete remodel.  

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — Innisfree Hotels (, the premier hotel owner-operator along the Gulf Coast, proudly announces that Sal de Mar, the poolside bar and grill at the Hilton Pensacola Beach (, is open again to guests and the public after a full remodel. 

An ideal place to enjoy time with friends and family, Sal de Mar offers unforgettable views with plenty of shaded areas to dine, drink, and take advantage of all the amenities of the Hilton’s pool deck. A complete redesign of the space included a new, dedicated kitchen, allowing Sal de Mar to provide faster service to guests. 

Menu favorites like loaded Sal de Mar Nachos, the triple-decker Beach Club, and the hearty Angus Burger are back, along with new items destined to become big hits. Guests can choose from three kinds of Empanadas (ground beef, pulled chicken, and spinach and cheese) or order Fish and Chips or Shrimp and Chips from among the new menu options. 

Sal de Mar spins eight flavors of frozen daiquiris that hit the spot during hot months, including the Key Lime Colada, Orange Cream, and island favorite Bushwacker. The restaurant’s one-of-a-kind margaritas shake up the traditional plain-lime variety, and its Cheeky Tiki drink combines Bacardi rum, Orgeat, and fresh strawberry, pineapple, and lime juices — in a whole pineapple! 

“We are very excited for guests to experience the new Sal de Mar, whether it’s the spectacular views and relaxed atmosphere, the delicious food and drinks, or the warm hospitality of our bartenders and servers,” said Terry Branch, General Manager of the Hilton Pensacola Beach. “Coupled with the recent opening of Salt, our new upscale Mediterranean restaurant inside the property with its own kitchen, Sal de Mar adds another layer of food and beverage enjoyment for our guests and locals.” 
The 68-seat restaurant welcomes walk-ins and also services the 170-seat Hilton pool deck and cabanas. Sal de Mar’s bar is open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset, and the grill is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit hiltonpensacolabeach/sal-de-mar.