Margaritaville Beach Resort at Hollywood Beach: Aaaaaaaaah
By Julie Landry Laviolette
Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind wasting away at this Margaritaville Beach Resort.
Walk into the lobby to find a giant blue flip-flop, 15 feet tall, and a massive chandelier of upturned margarita glasses. It’s all part of the beachy-fun vibe that Jimmy Buffett fan’s crave: chrome shark tail faucets in the bathrooms, colorful bicycles with parrot horns in the gift shop, Buffett’s own surf boards in the lobby.
But the quirky props are folded into a luxurious retreat, with tile floors that resemble bleached wood and guestrooms done in tranquil seafoam greens and muted sand tones with crisp white linens.
Guestrooms start on the 11th floor, and each features a balcony with Adirondack chairs offering tranquil ocean or Intracoastal Waterway views. There’s a lot to do here for both hotel guests and others happening by on the Broadwalk, the 2.5-mile paved pedestrian walkway directly in front of the resort.
Make a splash
If you really want to get away from it all, head to the adult-only 11th floor rooftop pool with comfy wicker seating, swaying palm trees and the License to Chill bar.
For a little more action, go for the two free-form ground-level pools with lush, tropical landscaping. The tamer of the two has a 17-person hot tub and a Tiki bar with sports on TV, plus private cabanas. But the cool kids -- and most of the little kids -- are hanging out at the livelier pool across the walkway, splashing under the waterfall or squealing down the waterslide.
If you’re daring, take a spin on the FlowRider, a surfing simulator that lets you hang ten in stylish surrounds. Set directly facing the Broadwalk, the laid-back guys who work the FlowRider never fail to put on a show, and watching is free.
Across the street on the Intracoastal, next to the resort’s 5 O’ClockSomewhere Bar & Grill (don’t you love the names?), rent paddleboards for your own adventure.
Head to the sand, and a beach attendant will lay out two lounge chairs and an umbrella (included in your resort fee). Here’s one better: a server will come around and deliver a frozen margarita to parch your thirst right there on the sand. (You do have to pay for your drinks. Sorry!)
If you’re not lucky enough to be a resort guest, you can still grab a “frozen concoction to help you hang on” at the resort’s Floridays food truck on the Broadwalk, right in front of the resort. While you’re at it, grab a hot dog, too.
Cheeseburger, etc., in paradise
There are several places to grab a bite or a cold drink at Margaritaville Beach Resort, and for most, flip-flips are fine. No shoes, no shirt, no problem is pretty much the mantra. My favorite was LandShark Bar & Grill, with a second story that overlooks the ocean and FlowRider on one side and the waterfall pool on the other. We really did have a cheeseburger in this tropical paradise, and it was first-rate. The menu features casual fare such as sandwiches and salads, and there’s a big bar with friendly servers and a nice view.
There’s a coffee shop with light fare in the lobby, as well as the upscale JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, which offers a high-end dining experience.
The resort’s signature eatery, Margaritaville, offers informal breakfast, lunch and dinner service with outdoor seating overlooking a pool, plus an indoor dining room with Key West quirky flair. I’m talking décor of fishing boats, massive palm trees and an airplane, to sum up. Cuisine is coastal-influenced American, with some seafood dishes, burgers and salads in the evening, and a heavenly Eggs Benedict with a lime-infused hollandaise in the morning.
Let the music move you
After you soak up some sun, chill out and listen to live music throughout the resort. You might find a DJ spinning tunes mid-day on the balcony at the LandShark bar, or an acoustic guitar duo mellowing out the crowd in the evening at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere watering hole. Late night, after the dinner crowd clears out of Margaritaville restaurant, the bars heat up and a live band takes the stage until 1 a.m.
But my favorite music venue is the Bandshell. Directly across the Broadwalk from the resort, the Bandshell has been a fixture on Hollywood Beach since the 1970s. Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort now handles the programming, offering free live music five nights a week from 7 to 9 p.m.
Dancing under the stars, resort guests, day-trippers and beach characters moved by the tropical breezes and ‘80s dance tunes sway to the beat, and there are smiles all around.
Pure fun. That’s Margaritaville.
Photos by Julie Landry Laviolette for VISIT FLORIDA