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Margaritaville Resort: A Memorial to Jimmy Buffett

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By Fyllis Hockman

Most people know of -- and many people live by -- the aphorism "It's 5 o'clock somewhere," but during my recent trip to Hollywood, Florida, it took on an even more special meaning. When Jimmy Buffett passed in September 2023, he left behind a beloved legacy of famous songs. Such is true of many well-known musicians, but none has also left behind an empire of bars, restaurants and hotels as celebrated as the artist himself. The various "Margaritavilles" -- based on Buffett's 1977 hit song -- attract thousands of visitors nationwide, and it felt particularly fitting, as an ardent fan, to visit one.

The huge replica of a royal blue flip-flop that adorns the hotel lobby and the sign above the reservation desk that says "No Passport Required" immediately tell you that you're not at a Holiday Inn. The chandelier comprised of upside-down margarita glasses and the multiple song lyrics displayed around the hotel reinforce the Buffett worldview. Do I even need to mention that Buffett songs flow from speakers everywhere?

From "no woman to blame" to "strumming my six-string" to "searching for my last shaker of salt," the unmistakable voice accompanies you throughout the grounds. Strolling through the property, which ends up facing the ocean, the "Welcome to Paradise," "License to Chill" and "Beach Vibe" will entice even those who have never heard of the groupie accolade of Parrothead! Think original Swifties! This is not exactly your grandmother's hotel. On the other hand, considering that Buffett's heyday was in the '70's and '80's, that's exactly what it might be.

How to describe hanging out in this flagship hotel's Margaritaville Bar -- one of a half-dozen dining options on the property? An indoor beach scene doesn't capture it. Yes, there is seating in boat replicas. Beach videos adorn the walls. Each table has a different seascape, palm tree or other beach-related design. Even the floor resembles waves -- and large coconut palms cascade downward. Pelican statues watch over you as you dine -- if you can even for a moment take your attention away from the decor to actually order.

The menu proclaims: "A State of Mind Since 1977," and you feel that in your core. But let's get to the important stuff: margaritas. Although I understood there are 31 margaritas to be had throughout the hotel, I was content with the 16 available at the Margaritaville Restaurant alone, with unsurprising names such as Who's to Blame, Fins to the Left and Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot.

 

Now maybe I'm biased, but it seemed the bartender didn't just make a drink; he crafted a work of art befitting the drink's origin. Unlike the many other margaritas I've imbibed over the years, this concoction of flavors -- all proprietary recipes, of course --

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caused my throat to smile as it caressed its way through my digestive system. Admittedly, that was after the third or fourth sampling. And, of course, the fact that Buffett favorites were continuously being performed onstage helped the process along.

It goes without saying that the property, as a whole, boasts multiple pools, slides, spa and all the other amenities typical of any upscale hotel. But if you're there for Jimmy Buffett, you're in the right place.

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