John Gheesling grew up on Panama  City Beach.
 
His parents owned the Bikini Motel on Front Beach Road, right across the street from the Gulf Wind Motel.
 
The only thing left of The Bikini today is a vacant lot.
 
“The name “Bikini Beach”, that was ours and we’re going to leave it with them, and I’m sure they’re going to treat it well, ” said Gheesling.
 
The Gheeslings bought the Gulf Wind in 1979 and re-opened it in 1980 as the Bikini Beach Resort.
 
It was one of the first welcome both spring breakers and snow birds, one of the firsts to have an ice machine, and one of the first to install solar panels.
 
“He realized that the beach had a lot of promise. He invested his time and money and this beach is like he could read the future,” said Gheesling.
 
John and his sister Ann Henry bought out their parent’s motel in the late nineties.
 
Since then the beach has changed from mostly small, family-owned motels to high-rise condos with out-of-town owners.  
 
The Bikini Beach Resort was one of the last family-owned properties on the beach until the Gheeslings sold the property earlier this year.
 
They handed the keys to the new owner on March 15th.
 
“It’s bittersweet. I get up every morning and I’m getting ready to come to work and I find something to do with myself now, and just like any retiree it’s hard to get adjusted,” said Gheesling.
 
Gheesling said he’ll miss the guests.
 
“We enjoy relations, our sign out front, normally says come as a guest leave as a friend and we take that heart,” said Gheesling.
 
He also said he believes his father would be proud of the Gheesling legacy.
 
The new owners plan to renovate later this fall, then hand it over to a management company,