In April, developer Mike Wampold and Atlanta-based Songy Highroads announced they’d acquired a 325-room resort on Lake Conroe in Texas for $17 million and planned to renovate and reopen it as a Margaritaville Resort.
Seven months later, the $90 million renovation of the 35-year-old property is well underway and the hotel’s management team is already beginning to market the resort in advance of a planned Memorial Day weekend opening.
At $107 million in all, the project is Wampold’s largest yet and includes a complete overhaul of the 20-story hotel tower and adjacent facilities. Crews have replaced the exterior skin of the building, as well as roofs, windows, doors, and mechanical systems. They’ve gutted every guest room and public space, demolished and replaced 35 lakefront cabins with new villas, are constructing a marina and water park and upgrading other amenities including the fitness center, spa and golf course.
Though extensive and expensive, Wampold believes the investment will be well worth it. Lake Conroe is just an hour north of Houston, some two hours from Dallas and three hours from Austin and San Antonio, so the developer expects to attract conventions and business groups as well as family travelers from those large markets.
He also plans to market heavily to groups and family travelers in Louisiana, who he thinks will flock to the property for company events and long weekends.
“We’ll be marketing to Louisiana people big time,” he says. “there are a bunch of parrot heads in Louisiana, so they’ll be a natural for us.”
Since opening its first hotel in 2010, Jimmy Buffett’s growing Margaritaville empire now operates 15 properties in the U.S. and the Caribbean and has more than 20 additional locations in the pipeline. Wampold says the chain, with its popular island-themed branding, is fast-growing and killing it in new markets it is entering.
Though he says it is a “pleasure” doing business in Texas, Wampold’s foray into the Lone Star State does not necessarily represent a trend.
“This just happened to be an opportunity that (longtime friend) Dave Songy and I stumbled across and it just happened to be in Texas,” he says. “But I’m not looking for things out of state.”