Posted: Thursday, October 5, 2023. 3:24 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: While the late Jimmy Buffett did not live to see his master plan for the new Margaritaville Beach Resort in North Ambergris Caye come to fruition, the brand he created from his most famous song plans to shake things up in an area of La Isla Bonita currently barren in infrastructure, but brimming with opportunity.
Located 13 miles and half an hour or so by boat from central San Pedro, Margaritaville represents the kind of “unique experience” as touted by representative of one of the partners in the business, Karisma Hotels and Resorts CEO Esteban Velasquez that it seeks to promote, to differentiate itself in the hospitality industry. “We are very fortunate to have the right partner with Margaritaville” and because of the “local flavour,” prospective visitors “will not be the same person, you’re not going to have the same point of view about the beauty of Belize and the beauty of this property.”
Detours caused by COVID aside, co-developer Michael Bowen, whose Landshark franchise of Bowen and Bowen Limited is the official beer of the property, related that after he first met Buffett in 2015, the plan came together rather quickly and Buffett stuck with it and became a frequent visitor to Belize and to North Ambergris.
From the Government’s perspective, according to Prime Minister John Briceño who was keynote speaker, Margaritaville is an international brand on par with other international brands such as Coca-Cola and marks a change from the Belizean model of small-scale, intimate properties: “Many people, especially Americans, when they are looking up about Belize and say where they could stay and they see Margaritaville, we know Margaritaville so they want to come here. And by coming here, they get to know Belize and they spread the word.”
And CEO in the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations Nicole Solano said that Belize has space for such brands in the tourism portfolio: “We need larger properties, we need brands and so the importance of a brand like Margaritaville or any other brand – we have several brands in Belize and we are trying to attract more. We don’t want to turn into a destination that is full of brands, but having a handful of brands is very important to us. We’d be able to expand our markets, destination management for Belize as well can benefit from branded hotels. So it is very important for us to seek that and support that.”
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