The Luxe List Releases Interview with Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort General Manager Eduardo Fernandez
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Far underrated in comparison to its neighbors Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the city of Hollywood is a spectacular South Florida destination that holds its own thanks to its array of activities perfectly suited for locals and tourists, alike.
This includes seven miles of beautiful beaches, 60 parks, seven golf courses, a historic downtown and the famous Broadwalk bursting with eateries and shops offering views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Hollywood, Florida is more of a family, laidback vibe with plenty of fun to be had. This definitely includes the AAA Four Diamond-rated Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. This 17-story, 349-room destination resort and entertainment complex offers an authentic, “no worries” tropical vibe inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett.
Designed to offer an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail, this oceanfront resort is located just minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international airport and Port Everglades.
Situated right on Hollywood’s famed Broadwalk, a brick-paver walkway beloved by joggers, bicyclists and rollerbladers, this property is the perfect setting for guests to escape the everyday and just chill.
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort encompasses a 4.6-acre entertainment complex with a wide array of features and amenities. This includes multiple diverse indoor and waterfront restaurant concepts; a full-service spa with eleven treatment rooms; state-of-the-art oceanfront fitness center; extensive on-site water recreation area with multiple pools; beach access with chairs and umbrellas; upgraded FlowRider double surf simulator and watersports; three live entertainment venues with weekly live music; various shopping outlets; and fully 30,000 square-feet of flexible function space.
The Luxe List founder Merilee Kern had the pleasure of experiencing a long weekend at the property and the stay duly delivered. Here’s the narrative of her experience:
Immediately upon checking in to our oceanfront suite replete with nautical and beach décor, which further boasted a furnished balcony with an expansive panoramic ocean view as far as the eye could see, I felt myself physically and mentally decompress for what I was now sure would be a relaxing respite. After an essential photo in front of the famed electric blue flip-flop sculpture that towers over guests as they meander the lobby, followed by a decidedly tasty Bloody Mary at the Margaritaville Restaurant’s bustling bar, I made my way to the on-site St. Somewhere Spa. There I reveled in an 80-minute deep-tissue massage from a practitioner who was clearly well-trained at her craft and attentive to my personal needs and hopes for the treatment.
Recognized by U.S. News as one of the Top-30 Relaxing Spa Getaways in the U.S., St. Somewhere Spa is an expansive oceanfront retreat that—in addition to its 11 treatment rooms—offers scrub and steam rooms, rainfall showers and a co-ed wet lounge with a large hot tub and numerous relaxation benches. Beyond the various types of massage selections, the spa does offer many other services such as facials, hair, nails and even fitness and yoga classes.
From the spa, I then made my way out to one of the property’s many pools, securing a lovely cabana with a television as well as food and beverage service. Under the SoFlo sun and immersed in island-inspired paradise, the frozen drinks flowed and lunch—three blackened fresh fish tacos and a Korean barbeque-sauced fried shrimp—exceeded expectations of pool-side fare.
Day two at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort was a veritable “rinse and repeat” of the phenomenal day one experience, although I did also partake in the property’s available bicycle rental to traverse the kinetic Broadwalk and absorb the local sights and sounds.
To cap what had been a truly exceptional two days “out of Dodge,” I fine dined at JWB Prime Steak & Seafood. From the intimate and cozy atmosphere to the impeccable service to the perfectly executed victuals, the visit left me longing for more. A destination drawn unto itself, I will certainly patronize the restaurant again whether I’m a hotel guest at the time or not. JWB’s “laidback luxe” approach offers a contemporary menu of fresh seafood, a raw bar and prime steaks paired with world-class wines and hand-crafted cocktails. The selection of both wet- and dry-aged steaks is impressive, as are the daily specials. On the night of my visit, they were offering a glorious 64-ounce “Thor’s Hammer” Osso Bucco (beef shank) that proffered a truly epic foodie opportunity. Then, there are seasonal favorites like Florida stone crab and specialty sushi rolls. I personally reveled in the Jalapeno Deviled Eggs starter with its mélange of textures and savory palate punch, as well as the twin Australian Lobster Tails with drawn butter and broccolini side that graced the menu that evening.
Checking out the next day was sweet sorrow. I was enamored with the collective experience and admittedly a bit surprised at the upscale ambiance of the property and its amenities. It seems that Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort is often misunderstood, as those seeking a “casual luxe” experience will appreciate what this property has to offer.
To more aptly illustrate its positioning in the tourism marketplace and calibrate consumer perceptions accordingly, Merilee connected with Eduardo Fernandez who serves as the General Manager at this particular Margaritaville location. Here’s a bit of that conversation.
MK: For those travelers might have the wrong impression of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, who would you say is your target or ideal guest?
EF: Our casual-luxe atmosphere attracts travelers looking for family-fun and an upscale retreat that is not stuffy or uptight. We are a family-friendly resort and one often known for celebrating milestones with friends or family, romance or for relaxing getaways. The resort’s clientele differs by season, with guests mostly visiting from the Northeast and Midwest during the cold winter months and Florida drive-in markets during the summer months.
MK: What are a few things that set the property apart from other comparable resort options in the area?
EF: Located between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway and with rooms and suits offering views of each, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort offers an old beach-town feel. Unlike sexy Miami Beach or the crowds at Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hollywood Beach offers more of hometown vibe. The resort also offers multiple unique, casual beachside dining outlets as well as our upscale JWB Prime Steak and Seafood restaurant with fare that rivals any steak house in South Florida. Beyond eating, there’s so much to do as the resort is really best defined as a robust beachfront entertainment complex. It is highly activated with live entertainment, special events and daily kids’ activities. With two pools that are family-friendly and an adult guest-only rooftop “License to Chill” terrace, we boost offerings for all ages and moods.
MK: With the recent pandemic having changed traveler mindsets, how will the property be conducting business up ahead to assure guest health and safety and confidence related thereto?
EF: We put the health and safety of our guests and team members above anything else. Unlike many of our neighboring hotels, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort stayed busy even during the pandemic. Because of that, we have adapted CDC best practices for cleanliness and sanitation that are still in effect today. Even as the pandemic has receded, we continue to keep most of the same protocol to ensure the safety of our guests. To do so, we have added more staff to our housekeeping team, continue to use environmentally friendly products and invest in ongoing training.
The resort continues to adapt to accommodate and communicate to our guests’ expectations. We also provide some latitude to ensure guests to feel comfortable and welcome regarding masks and choice for daily guest room housekeeping.
MK: What might people not know about the property, but should?
EF: Well, as mentioned earlier, it’s a more luxury vacation experience than many expect. All of our guest rooms and suites offer balconies overlooking either the Atlantic Ocean or Intracoastal Waterway. Also that, once here, you really never need to leave the property to have a full vacation experience. It offers so much to do in one location. On the activities front, the FlowRider Double is the best-in-class of surf simulators and is recognized as one of the best in the country.
But, for those who do want to wander and see more of the South Florida region, we’re perfectly situated between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, allowing guests to easily explore. We are also a great location for groups and events, as our flexible ballrooms and meeting spaces are secluded on the ninth floor and offer oceanfront views—a great enhancement for all types of events. We offer serious meetings with serious fun!
MK: How would you sum up the property’s approach to hospitality?
EF: At the end of the day, it’s all about fun and escapism. Both our team members and guests feel that vibe. We strive to create a “no worries” Margaritaville state of mind, establishing ourselves as a paradise for guests to check in and chill out. Our approach is to listen and adapt. For example, we noticed a trend of more luxury travelers booking our suites in particular, so we created our Paradise Suite Collection to include an Experience Planner to assist guests with creating a personalized itinerary, make reservations and provide amenities all designed for their vacation style. Another trend we noticed was more suite bookings to accommodate families, multi-generational travel and friends traveling together for celebrations. So, we added more options with pull-out beds for Junior Suites and are offering more suite booking options to accommodate the growing requests.
MK: How has technology impacted the guest experience?
EF: We have recently invested in upgrading our Wi-Fi to improve our meeting and guest experience. Most of our communications are now digital, with information at your fingertips. From a new, modernized website to our digital app, our guests have access to information when they need it. Sustainability is a focus at the resort as well —so many of our internal systems are now digital to reduce waste and recycling.
MK: How would you describe your overarching service standards?
EF: Our motto at the resort is “Every guest, every time.” We strive to provide friendly service in every aspect, from the front of the house to the heart of the house. We take every request and challenge seriously and work together to find a solution. In fact, every review is responded to personally and we treat our guests and team members like family. We invest in on-going training for all levels of our 500 employees and it shows in their performance and teamwork. I am proud to say that our surveys and reviews are often recognized as a leader within in our portfolio and the industry.
MK: What is your personal favorite aspect of the resort?
EF: The vibe at the resort is my favorite thing about the property. It starts with our friendly team members but, in essence, this feeling is the DNA of the resort. Everyone is always in a good mood, exuding the sense of fun and escapism. I have worked at many hotels, but none of them have this “Margaritaville-state-of mind” atmosphere. It’s actually a real thing.
MK: What are some of the long- and short-term goals for the property?
EF: We continue to invest in maintenance and upgrades at the resort to provide value to our guests. In addition to recently upgrading our Wi-Fi network, we also replaced the Queen beds in our guest rooms and invested in replacing infrastructure of our FlowRider for the comfort of our guests … just to name a few. We have also added annual music festivals and special events for our guests and locals to enjoy, including Summerfest, Octoberfest in Paradise and Winter Wonderville. These annual events are free to the public and offer beachside fun for the family.
MK: Any interesting/unexpected/little-known factoids/trivia about the property/location?
EF: Yes, for sure. Here’s a quick list: We have 31 flavors of Margaritas. Ours is the Flagship property, which sets the bar for the growing portfolio of Margaritaville resorts. The resort is home to over 35 weddings a year, both local and destination weddings, from beachside to ballroom. The resort’s secluded event and meeting space also attracts corporate meetings, sales incentives, training and annual events—and with meeting planners and attendees able to enjoy all of our amenities and offerings. Given our close proximity to Port Everglades, the resort is also popular for pre- and post-cruise stays for travelers to continue their vacation experience.
MK: Does Jimmy Buffett actually stay at the property?
EF: Yes, Jimmy Buffett himself is a frequent visitor. We can also share that our Jimmy Buffett Suite often hosts celebrities looking for a fun and relaxing getaway and escape from the spotlight. Our Jimmy Buffett Suite is a tropical paradise, with huge balconies facing both the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. The suite is perfect for entertaining friends and family in the tropical intimate setting with full dining/kitchen, recreation and up to three bedrooms.
In all, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort is a marquee Hollywood, Florida destination and indubitably a key reason why Hollywood Beach is a Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Winner. Amid Merilee’s own recent visit to this Margaritaville location, the destination—and city at large—she concludes that the property “is sure to facilitate victorious vacationing.”
Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv / Instagram www.Instagram.com/MerileeKern / Twitter www.Twitter.com/MerileeKern / Facebook www.Facebook.com/MerileeKernOfficial / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.