Heavy clouds roiled just off Hollywood beach, threatening to soak the thousands of people gathered to hear Jimmy Buffett christen the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.
The $150 million project that boasts 349 rooms, including the massive 2,834-square-foot Jimmy Buffett suite, soft-opened in September. The playground for Parrotheads, the self-given moniker for Buffett fans, features eight bars and restaurants: Margaritaville, the License to Chill Bar, Floridays Airstream Café, Lone Palm Beach Bar, LandShark Bar & Grill, Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, Margaritaville Coffee Shop, and Buffett's first-fine dining establishment, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood. All restaurants and bars are open to the public with the exception of the rooftop License to Chill Bar, which is open to resort guests only. JWB Prime Steak and Seafood is expected to open in the next few weeks.
Buffett's appearance was kept a tightly held secret, with people invited to hear a "special musical guest." Of course, the only possible act that could have performed was Mr. Margaritaville himself, with the rumors confirmed a few days earlier. Though Buffett was set to take the old Hollywood Beach bandshell stage, logistics dictated setting up a different stage just across from the bandshell with people spilling out onto the Broadwalk, on terraces, and even rooftops to get a glimpse of the singer who made a fortune singing about being a beach bum.
As the crew took off towels and plastic serving to keep the Coral Reefer Band's gear dry, Buffett took the stage just after 4 p.m., singing for nearly 90 minutes. "I finally get to play the bandshell," an exuberant Buffett told the crowd as he performed in front of a Jumbotron that depicted scenes of swaying palm trees, volcanoes, and the mighty Cheeseburger in Paradise that the singer waxes rhapsodic about.
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The most moving part of the afternoon occurred when Buffett swapped out his green electric guitar for a simple acoustic instrument. "I bought this in Paris a few years back," the singer said, acknowledging the recent terrorist attacks on the City of Light. "The opposite of terror is laughter," the singer said as he started his 1973 ballad "He Went to Paris." The song, written about a Spanish Civil War veteran who loses his family to war, was a fitting tribute.
The king of beaches must have an in with the weather gods, because not a drop fell from the skies during the concert, although a light rain fell softly after the singer left the stage.
Though Buffett may not be playing the resort much, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach promises live music to sip your boat drinks by with weekly entertainment both at the resort's signature restaurant and at the Hollywood Beach Bandshell.