Last updated: 12:04 PM ET, Tue July 21 2015

Margaritaville CEO on Hotel Brand's Competitive Edge

Hotel & Resort | Claudette Covey | July 10, 2015

Margaritaville CEO on Hotel Brand's Competitive Edge

PHOTO: Artist's rendering of the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, set to debut in October. (Courtesy of Margaritaville Hotels)

In an age when lifestyle hotels are all the rage, the CEO of Margaritaville Holdings, the company that manages the Margaritaville hotel brand, believes the company has a considerable edge over the competition.

“Margaritaville is about a lifestyle, and we’re providing that lifestyle through the hotel experience,” said John Cohlan. “I like to say that the soundtrack of family vacations for the last 30 years has tended to be our music. When you come to Margaritaville you’re walking into a way of life that you are familiar with – which is why you’re going there.”

From Cohlan’s point of view, the $170 million Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, which is set to make its debut in October, serves as a case in point. “To me, it’s the most iconic project we’ve done in 20 years,” he said, adding that the Broward County, Fla. 17-story property will feature three pools, a FlowRider Double and a considerable number of branded food and beverage outlets, including the License to Chill Bar and the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill.

One of the 349-room resort’s strongest selling points is Atlantic Ocean-Intracoastal Waterway location. “We’re in South Florida directly on the sand, which is very hard to do,” said Cohlan.

While Margaritaville, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, can trace its roots back to 1987 with the opening of a restaurant in Key West, the company is a relative newcomer to the hotel business.

The first Margaritaville debuted 2010 with the opening of the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola, Fla. The Margaritaville Resort Casino debuted in Bossier, La., in 2013, and the Margaritaville Island Hotel opened in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in 2014.

Margaritaville is also dipping its toes into the vacation ownership business through a partnership with Wyndham, with plans for Margaritaville Vacation Club timeshare properties in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. “It’s the only time Wyndham has used another brand to create a vacation club that’s part of the Wyndham system,” said Cohlan.

For their part, the Margaritaville properties in Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana are attracting a broad range of multi-generational guests, ranging from Baby Boomers to Millennials. “A lot of the brand loyalty has been handed down from parents to children,” Cohlan said.

The type of traveler attracted to Margaritaville hotels is equally broad. “Our guests are people who love the idea of tropical escapism – anybody who enjoys the beach or warm weather,” he said. “Our three existing hotels are doing very, very well and we have hopes for Margaritaville Hollywood.”

Cohlan added that further expansion plans are underway. “We’ll be announcing another major project in the U.S. soon,” Cohlan said.


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