After much anticipation, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort (1111 N. Ocean Dr.) swung open its doors this week to give Parrotheads a slice of heaven (in the form of Key lime pie, of course).
The resort soft-opened this past Tuesday, with some components being finished and tweaked even as people enjoy their boat drinks and Landshark beers. As tourists stroll the lobby, workers are "quietly making noise" behind areas not yet open to the public, like JWB Prime Steak and Seafood and the License to Chill Bar. That being said, there's still much to see and do at the 349-room, 17-story resort that's perfect for a weekend getaway or just a "cheeseburger in paradise."
Margaritaville's general manager, Cate Farmer, led a tour of the facilities yesterday, meeting a group of media at the base of a giant blue flip-flop (complete with pop top). The piece, Farmer remarks, was a gift to Jimmy Buffett himself from a famous artist who chooses to remain anonymous. The lobby is filled with subtle tributes to the singer/songwriter, who made a fortune writing about lazing away on the beach with a beverage in your hand, although the finished result is more barefoot elegance than overhyped theme park. Farmer points out that, once complete, the resort will offer eight food and beverage concepts. The date of the official grand opening? "That's the million-dollar question," she says, although most of the other facilities not yet operational are scheduled for a fall 2015 completion.
Once inside the lobby, you'll find Buffett's influences all over the place, including snippets of his lyrics.
A giant light fixture is fashioned from margarita glasses of varying sizes.
The Margaritaville coffee shop is located in the lobby. It features grab-and-go food, pastries, smoothies, and Margaritaville-branded coffee.
If you forgot your swimsuit or sunscreen, you can grab some at the store, along with a host of Margaritaville merchandise like shirts, hats, and margarita machines, for when you get home and have to have some "booze in the blender."
Starting on the 11th floor, all rooms at the hotel boast panoramic water views and a laid-back coastal vibe.
Rooms come equipped with Margaritaville coffee and mugs, so you can caffeine-up before spending another day at the pool, drinking blender drinks.
The 11th Floor terrace, open only to hotel guests, will be the home of the License to Chill Bar and sweeping views of the property's massive pool complex, complete with flow rider, waterfalls, and its own pirate ship. Beyond the property lies Hollywood Beach and the famed bandshell. Margaritaville took over management of the bandshell and will offer free live entertainment about five days a week, starting in about two weeks. The resort itself will host live bands nightly. Farmer says she's proud of the fact that most of the artists chosen to play both at the bandshell and resort have local ties. "South Florida has great talent," she says.
The LandShark Bar & Grill has entrances both from the resort and the Hollywood Broadwalk and features light fare, beer on tap (including, of course, LandShark lager), margaritas, and boat drinks.
The bar also has great views of the bandshell and FlowRider, so you can watch other people wipe out while knocking back a cold one. Food is served daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the bar is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Of course, there are margaritas and boat drinks. The Who's to Blame is a classic cocktail made with Margaritaville gold tequila, triple sec, and signature margarita mix ($8.50).
Buffett's signature Margaritaville restaurant is also open, right off the pool. It is there that you get your full dose on Buffett-mania. Look up and you'll notice a larger-than-life, hand-painted map of Florida and the Caribbean. Flying over your head is a replica of the singer's sea plane, the Hemisphere Dancer (the real one can be found at Margaritaville Orlando).
The restaurant is decked out in nautical fashion, and you can actually have your boat drinks in one of two full-scale boat-tables. If you get seasick, don't look down — the floor is painted to look like the ocean. The illusion is so real, you might feel like your feet are getting wet.
Although the menu is varied, offering everything from LandShark Lager battered fish and chips ($17.99) to
As of now, only the coffee shop, LandShark Bar & Grill, and Margaritaville restaurant are open, with the five remaining restaurants and watering holes still under construction. During the tour, workers were placing plants in strategic places and hammering away at the front entrance. But with all that, the resort still has much to offer in the way of a day's enjoyment or a week's staycation. If you're a fan of the lazy Caribbean lifestyle that Jimmy sings about, you'll have a good time. If you're a fan of the man and his music, this is a must-see destination.