With plans to spruce up and make its white sand beach 60 per cent bigger in 2022, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Ocho Rios is looking to make its mark as the leading tourist attraction along Jamaica’s north-eastern shore.
Already a favourite with the thousands of cruise passengers stopping by the town, this “new beach” will mean Margaritaville can safely pamper a lot more guests as they lounge in VIP cabanas or head to a thatch-roofed bar that’s always ready to serve the best frozen margaritas “Ochi style”.
Locals have not been left out.
For those who haven’t heard the news, Margaritaville Ocho Rios is offering those who call Jamaica home up to 20 per cent discount and special offers when they visit. The local loyalty programme is their way of saying thanks to clients who come back again and again.
Whether it’s chilling at the swim-up bar, sliding down the 60-foot waterslide that leads to the pool or enjoying the full-serve restaurant and bar, it’s always 5 o’clock (the start of Happy Hour) at Margaritaville and you’re invited.
When we stopped by we were impressed by the very relaxed — yet attentive — staff, a work culture in keeping with founder Jimmy Buffett’s laid-back and carefree persona. We were greeted at the reservation desk with Margaritaville’s signature balloon hats made in the shape of a shark fin.
“We are very consistent when it comes down to the experience in general. You’re going to find that almost every Margaritaville you walk into, it’s very likely that you’re going to be getting your balloon hat that looks like a shark fin,” said General Manager Anthony Hewie.
Locals from across the country journey to Ocho Rios’ Island Village for the Margaritaville experience, he said.
“I’ve been getting a lot of very positive feedback as to how they feel when they come here because our entertainment team… plays games and do all kinds of [fun activities] that will make them feel comfortable. So, it’s not only about coming for the beach and the amenities, it is also about the entertainment experience that we offer,” said Hewie, who has been with Margaritaville Ocho Rios for 20 years.
The food and drinks served are also a crowd favourite, he told LetsTravelCaribbean.com.
“I think we have a very, very good menu. [There is] international cuisine but we also have a local menu so people are able to order something that is very native to Jamaica,” he said.
“So while we have our Cheeseburgers in Paradise and our Big Volcano Nachos, you can still go over to the other menu for your curried lobster… brown stewed fish with fried ripe plantains, rice and peas, red peas soup and curried conch,” Hewie added.
Then there’s the challenge of having every one of the more than 150 flavours of frozen margaritas available.
“People tend to want to try out several drinks that we have, but our most popular are our frozen margaritas. We have them in 152 flavours… we may not have them listed, but we have several different ways we can make your margaritas,” said the general manager.