Longtime casino executive Paul Alanis, the operator and owner of the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, says Margaritaville is the most powerful casino brand around.
“It has a fun and relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect theme for any casino,” he told Global Gaming Business just days before the casino opened last June.
And fun is what was lacking in the Shreveport/Bossier City market for many years. The region’s seven casinos have seen flat or declining revenues for at least half a dozen years as competition from Oklahoma cut into the region’s principal Dallas market.
Margaritaville has brought that fun to the banks of the Red River. The relaxed Gulf Coast spirit influenced the project’s design along with the “Parrothead” culture that has grown up around entertainment legend Jimmy Buffett and his music.
Located on the north end of the Louisiana Boardwalk—newly branded as The Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk—the 391,000-square-foot resort went from planning in May 2011 to opening its doors to the public in June 2013. The $205 million resort deftly integrates live entertainment, volcano shows, restaurants, bars, a 395-room hotel and a 46,330-square-foot casino floor, making this resort a must-see and stay destination.
Cuningham Group’s principal in charge of the project, Thomas Hoskens, notes, “The Margaritaville brand’s strong following and incredibly rich design standards led to the incorporation of many trademark elements such as a Volcano Bar, fishing and shrimp boats, a Blue Goose airplane hanging from the rafters, palm trees and island torches.”
Challenged by Louisiana gaming regulations that require a casino to be a floating vessel, required by the Coast Guard to be fully seaworthy, the Cuningham Group and its contractors went one step further by designing the first cast-in-place concrete barge with a steel superstructure. In the past, casino barges had their roof structures resting on the land, not on the barge as this one does. The basin that floats the barge is supported by 387 auger-cast concrete pilings that penetrate through the soft riverbank sediments down to a solid rock layer of the earth.
The resort’s sense of arrival includes a wooden island pagoda greeting guests. Beckoning just inside the doors from the porte cochere is a 30-foot-high atrium filled with island flowers and lofty palms. The casino features 1,238 slot and video machines and 54 table games amid a sophisticated island atmosphere of palm trees, tropical breezes and aqua-colored spaces. The casino resort is flush with entertainment offerings including a 1,000-seat performance hall, four dining venues including a two-story Margaritaville Restaurant, and seven specially designed, wood-topped bars with more than 100 one-of-a-kind pictures of Jimmy Buffett sealed within them.
The project is poised to attract locals as well as visitors from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma as they come to experience the country’s newest Margaritaville and bond with Parrothead fans. The brand’s influence is also bound to be a boon to the area’s other casinos and The Outlets. This project is the second Margaritaville-themed casino designed by Cuningham Group—the first opened in Biloxi, Mississippi in May 2012.
Owner: Bossier Casino Venture, LLC
Architect (exterior): Cuningham Group Architecture
Interior Designer: The McBride Company, Suzanne Kisbye, Allison Alanis
Contractor: Roy Anderson Corp.
Total Investment: $200 million