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Margaritaville Holdings planning a pair of Gulf Coast hotels

Major brand expansion includes new properties in Anna Maria Sound and Fort Myers

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  • | 6:00 a.m. August 3, 2018
A 2018 rendering of the Margaritaville resort on Fort Myers, constructed by Deangelis Diamond.
A 2018 rendering of the Margaritaville resort on Fort Myers, constructed by Deangelis Diamond.
Courtesy rendering
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If current plans reach fruition, the Gulf Coast will be home to two new Margaritaville-branded hotels within the next three years — including one that will be the first of its kind.

The hotels, part of the burgeoning empire inspired by songster Jimmy Buffett, will be located in Fort Myers Beach and Anna Maria Sound, where Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities are marketing an upscale marina residential development known as One Particular Harbour — named after another Buffett hit.

Fort Myers-based TPI Hospitality will develop the planned Southwest Florida resort, slated to contain 254 rooms, a handful of food and beverage offerings including a 100-seat, glass-enclosed beachside restaurant, a store stocked with Margaritaville merchandise, an in-house spa and an expansive terrace feature for views of the Gulf of Mexico.

The roughly $200 million resort is scheduled to open in early 2021, TPI officials say.

“One of the advantages to developing a Margaritaville property is their marketing muscle,” says John Gucciardo, a company spokesman.

“While there are other lodging properties underway or planned, they’re 20 miles inland, whereas we’re on a barrier island,” he says. “And we know, according to tourism bureau research, is that no matter where people stay when they visit Lee County, at some point they go the beach. Well, we have that locked up. We consider hospitality development in downtown (Fort Myers) to be a good thing for us, because it will bring more people to the area overall. Ours is an entirely different venue.”

In Bradenton, meanwhile, Floridays Development Co. will start work early next year on the first Compass by Margaritaville hotel on Anna Maria Sound.

There, Floridays, which earlier this summer opened the 162-room Art Ovation hotel that is part of Marriott International’s esteemed Autograph Collection in downtown Sarasota, will develop a roughly 130-room, upscale select-service hotel.

The hotel is expected to open around the end of 2019.

“For the leisure traveler, they appeal to someone looking for an experience, for a novelty,” says Lou Plasencia, founder and CEO of The Plasencia Group, a Tampa-based lodging brokerage firm and consultancy.

Compass, planned to rise five floors and contain 83,000 square feet on 3 acres per Margaritaville’s prototype, will contain a welcome cabana, a happy hour cocktail lounge, “Margaritaville-designed bar and grille concept” and other features intended to “bring a taste of the outdoors inside” in a “casual-luxe” atmosphere, according to company material.

“It’s really escapism,” says James Brearley, a Floridays project manager. “The brand says it’s OK to chill out and put your feet up and watch the sunset, which really appeals to people today. In my mind, Margaritaville is an extension of the boutique hotel popularity, and this is different than any other hotel brand out there. Margaritaville, really, is a state of mind.”

Though the Manatee County Compass will be the first built in the country, Margaritaville executives have high hopes that the brand will expand nationally.

“With our tremendous brand awareness and the owner-friendly design concept, we see a remarkable opportunity to rapidly grow the brand across the U.S., with short-term target markets throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic,” Rick Cunningham, Margaritaville Holdings’ vice president of hotel development, says in a statement.

The launch of the pair of planned Gulf Coast hotels coincide with Margaritaville Holdings’ 20th anniversary, a milestone that company executives have used to further the brand’s overall penetration into consumer markets.

Today, the company operates a dozen resorts in Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Cayman Islands.

In addition to Fort Myers and Anna Maria Sound, in Florida the company operates resorts or hotels in Pensacola Beach, Hollywood, Kissimmee and Key West.

New resorts also are being planned in the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Nashville and New York City, where the company plans a 234-room destination just off Times Square, at 560 Seventh Ave. That 29-story project alone is expected to cost $300 million.

It also has some 15 other projects in its development pipeline, according to company information released in late May in conjunction with the Compass on Anna Maria Sound unveiling.

Additionally, Margaritaville Holdings operates four gaming venues, in Las Vegas and elsewhere, and more than five dozen restaurants and bars.

The company also licenses and sells apparel, shoes, home décor items, frozen foods, liquors and beer, among other items.

The resort and hotel development, in turn, is expected to generate additional interest in the brand and serve as a repository and retail space for all things Buffett.

Hotel experts say the company has been prudent in the way they’ve rolled out new projects and leveraged interest from both travelers and developers alike.

“For the leisure traveler, they appeal to someone looking for an experience, for a novelty,” says Lou Plasencia, founder and CEO of The Plasencia Group, a Tampa-based lodging brokerage firm and consultancy.

“But they also provide quite a bit of meeting space in their properties, which is a clever way to reach out to the business traveler and get group business,” Plasencia adds.

“And from an investor and developer standpoint, their fee structure is significantly lower than what it requires to affiliate with one of the big brands like Hyatt, Marriott or Hilton. With Margaritaville, you’re not going to be paying huge franchise fees.”

Margaritaville also appears willing to be flexible with particular properties to be in the locations it desires.

In Fort Myers, for instance, TPI Hospitality will build its resort on two sides of Estero Boulevard, so guests can experience both a Gulf view and have a bayside experience — complete with the 22,000-square-foot “License To Chill Terrace.”

The two components to the resort will be connected via a pedestrian bridge over Estero Boulevard, TPI Hospitality says in its early June announcement regarding the resort.

“Our alignment with Margaritaville ensures this one-of-a-kind resort will perfectly embody the look, feel and charm of its island community,” says Tom Torgerson, TPI Hospitality’s chairman, in a statement.

Plasencia, too, says the brand has tremendous upside going forward.

“They have good financial backing, and investors seem to be very attracted to the message they’re selling, as are travelers,” he says. “I think they’re here to stay.”




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