As longstanding Jimmy Buffet fans, the opportunity to try the New Margaritaville Resort at Hollywood Beach during a holiday in Florida was too good to miss.
Many reviews rated the resort highly so our expectations were set quite high.
The resort itself is very nicely designed with some grand public spaces and spacious well fitted bedrooms. However, it looks as if the designers were driven by style over function because many areas look very difficult to clean and in some areas were clearly in need of cleaning. There is a very attractive chandelier made from inverted cocktail glasses in the main foyer, but it is looking dusty and grubby in parts.
Service from the reception and housekeeping staff was poor. I was not given any information about the resort at check in and only got a very basic map when I asked the Concierge. A small leaflet that included the map, details of the bars, dining and retail facilities, their hours of operation and how to get a table would have been helpful.
Housekeeping of my room was very poor, glasses were not washed and coffee supplies not replaced during my three-night stay. I asked for some coffee at reception and they assured me they would send some to my room, it never arrived.
You need to be careful when selecting a room, especially if you are looking for a sea view. A number of the rooms sold as sea view actually look out onto the Chill Bar and adult only pool area on floor 11 with a glimpse of the sea in the distance. Some rooms on floor 11, 12 and 14 have their view partially blocked by palm trees on the pool area.
There are a number of bars and Jimmy Buffet themed restaurants, more on the ones I tried below, but it is important to know that most of them are open to non residents as well as resort guests. so they become very busy, especially at weekends. The quality of the food was good in most outlets but the food in Margaritaville was not up to the standard I experienced in the Margaritaville in Key West the previous week, although breakfast was good. JWB’s steak and seafood was a big disappointment and you have to cross a very busy road to get to the 5 O’clock Somewhere bar which is located alongside the inter coastal waterway.
Not surprisingly, given the theme of the resort, it is a high energy, loud music environment but it caters very well for families with very well constructed swimming pools and a beautiful stretch of beach. There is an adult only pool and terrace on the 11th floor, but there is still a lot of noise from the other areas of the resort so this is not the place for a quiet weekend away.
There is plenty of parking but it costs $35 a day and you need to be aware that there is also a $15 a day resort fee on top of your room charges to cover facilities around the pool and on the beach.
Margaritaville Bar / Restaurant
As previously mentioned, the main menu food was disappointing and the environment lacks the atmosphere of stand-alone Margaritaville restaurants. The service was good and friendly and the breakfast food was very good. This is a very popular place to eat and it is open to non-residents so you have to be prepared to wait for a table during busy times.
5 O’clock Somewhere Bar and Grill
This bar and eatery is located across the busy A1a road from the resort adjacent to the inter coastal waterway. There was a live band playing when I visited and there were clearly a good number of non-resort guests using the bar as it is open to the road and has moorings for boats. The menu is limited and what I had was not that inspiring. The service was indifferent; I spoke to three staff before they sent the person responsible for my table. A pleasant environment spoilt to some extent by road noise and indifferent service.
Landshark Bar and Grill
This very popular bar and grill offers a very good meal or snack menu and the food that I had was very well cooked and presented and I felt was very reasonably priced. The service was friendly and effective and the pool side table that I had was a pleasant place to enjoy a late lunch. It does get very busy in the evenings and non-residents can use the main bar and grill on the first floor.
JWB Steak and Seafood
This is advertised as the resort’s premium restaurant and you are advised to book as it is also open to non-residents and gets full very quickly. I booked a table for 8 pm and turned up at the appointed hour only to have to wait for about 30 mins. To be given a table.
The menu is very fish focussed with the only soup or starter that is not sea food being steak tartare, something that is not to everyone’s taste. In reality the menu is that of a seafood restaurant with a range of steaks and other grills.
The service was very poor. I had to ask for bread, my white wine bottle was just left on the table, when I asked for an ice bucket it came with no ice and both wine and water were dribbled over the table as they were served. The wine list is very limited in choice with very little Australian, New Zealand or Chilean wines available.
The food I had was very good but the atmosphere is not what I would expect of a premium restaurant, it was almost impossible to hold a conversation with my Wife without shouting. I was also very surprised to see a dog in the restaurant and it was not an assistance dog. This meal was an expensive disappointment.
In addition to these main bar restaurants there is the Chill Bar on the 11th floor adult only pool, the beach bar and the airstream hot dog van on the boardwalk. There is also a coffee shop in the resort foyer which offers good fresh coffee and a range of pastries and gelato.