In April 2019, developer Mike Wampold and Atlanta-based Songy Highroads announced they had acquired a 325-room resort on Lake Conroe in Texas for $17 million with plans to renovate and reopen it as a Margaritaville Resort.
Some 14 months and $93 million later, the renovation is complete and the 325-room resort is getting ready for its grand opening June 26.
Preparing to open a lake resort in the middle of a global pandemic that has ravaged the hospitality industry nationwide has not been without its challenges.
But based on the crowds that flocked to Margaritaville, when its waterfront Landshark Bar and Grill had its soft opening two weeks ago, attracting visitors to the property won’t be a problem.
“It felt like the whole world showed up,” Wampold says. “It was packed.”
The Margaritaville project is Wampold’s largest yet and included a complete overhaul of the 20-story hotel tower and adjacent facilities. Crews replaced the exterior skin of the building, as well as roofs, windows, doors, and mechanical systems. They gutted every guest room and public space, demolished and replaced 35 lakefront cabins with new villas, and constructed a 70-slip marina and water park. They also upgraded other amenities, including the fitness center, spa and 18-hole golf course.
The grand opening was originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend but the pandemic delayed things by a few weeks, which Wampold says was good because it gave work crews more time to finish up and enabled staff to better train and prepare for new public health protocols.
“We are practicing and following the standards the whole industry has set,” he says. “All the floors are hard surface floors, no carpets, mask, gloves, hand sanitizer everywhere and the elevators are constantly being cleaned.”
The hotel tower’s HVAC system is also optimum to prevent the potential spread of disease, in that it utilizes a central chilled water system with individual handlers for each guest room.
“You have individual air handlers so you’re not getting air from the building system,” Wampold says. “You’re getting chilled water from the building system but not air. Each unit has its own air intake.”
The property is in a rapidly growing area of east Texas, in close driving proximity to four major markets in the Lone Star State. It’s just 1.5 hours from Houston, 2.5 hours from Dallas and 3.5 hours from both Austin and San Antonio.
“You have 20 million people within just three hours or so,” he says.
The property targets a family market with a generous travel budget. Hotel rooms average $400 per night and villas go for $500.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville chain, with its popular island-themed branding, is one of the fastest growing in the country. Since opening its first hotel in 2010, Margaritaville has grown to 15 properties in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and has at least 10 additional locations in the pipeline.