Jimmy Buffett’s laid-back casino theme of Margaritaville came to his hometown of Biloxi in May when longtime casino executive Tom Brosig opened the Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant. The property is the first stand-alone Margaritaville Casino (a similarly themed casino is part of the Flamingo in Las Vegas, adjacent to the restaurant of the same name).
With shops, restaurants and a casino that opens to Biloxi’s marina and bay, Margaritaville is an entirely new style of gaming establishment, with an outdoor and beach-like feel of an ongoing party.
“Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville group works very hard to keep its brand consistent, which is all about a laid-back way to live, party and experience life,” says Cuningham Group principal Tom Hoskens. “And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this casino.”
Hoskens says the challenge was to stay true to Buffett’s Margaritaville brand.
“Cuningham Group’s philosophy of ‘Every Building Tells A Story’ works well with Margaritaville,” he says. “Working from this philosophy, each location tells the story of the owner’s vision and story of its unique site. No two stories are the same; therefore, no two projects are exactly the same. For Margaritaville, we worked to create elements of its unique location that could be incorporated into the brand standards.”
Recovering from the storm of the century, Hurricane Katrina, means any construction in Biloxi must meet rigid construction codes.
“Due to its location immediately adjacent to the waterfront,” explains Hoskens, “the building needed to be elevated above storm surge and comply with FEMA regulations. This meant that guests need to enter at grade and ascend a set of escalators through an environment that builds excitement about the Margaritaville experience they are entering. The experience was established with the use of color, Jimmy Buffet artifacts, and the ascension of the escalator through a grouping of palm trees.”
And there turned out to be benefits to this construction.
“The elevation required by FEMA actually greatly enhances the dramatic views of Biloxi’s Back Bay from the resort’s elevated dining and porch,” says Hoskens.
While Margaritaville has opened without a hotel, Hoskens says it’s part of a plan for future phases of the property.
Brosig, one of the founders of Grand Casinos back in the early 1990s, had retired after the company was sold to a predecessor of Caesars Entertainment. But his love for the Gulf Coast caused him to return after Katrina to help contribute to the revival of the area.
“I’ve settled down here,” he says. “I’m a local. I wanted to play a role in bringing this area back after the storm, and this turned out to be the perfect project.”
Margaritaville brings hundreds of jobs and a new themed attraction that will draw more tourists and create yet another must-see attraction in Biloxi.
Owner: MVB Holding, LLC
Architect: Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.
Interior Design: The McBride Company
Theme Contrator: Cost of Wisconsin
Total Investment: $64 million