South Florida ties to Jimmy Buffett run deep

From Margaritaville at Sea to Margaritaville Beach Resort, singer-songwriter's presence felt throughout South Florida
Margaritaville at Sea
Posted at 11:44 AM, Sep 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-02 22:02:55-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter who died at 76, has deep connections to South Florida, including a cruise ship branded with his song "Margaritaville," based in Palm Beach County, and a resort in Hollywood.

Buffett was a longtime part-time resident of Palm Beach County. He sold a home in Palm Beach in 2020 for about $7 million. His family owns other residential properties on the island, as well as West Palm Beach, through a company called Sadeca Realty LLC.

He participated in many charity fundraisers in Palm Beach. He was an adviser to the Piper Angels Foundation, which is based in Palm Beach Gardens, to support and improve the lives of families in the cystic fibrosis community.

In 2015, he spoke to the Palm Beach Post about living in Palm Beach.

Jimmy Buffett performs during Miami Dolphins game, Sept. 21, 2009
Jimmy Buffett performs before a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts, Monday, Sept. 21, 2009, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

"No one bothers me," he said. "It's amazing. I'm not on television and that's the big difference. I can walk around with shocking anonymity. People don't know who I am. I went to Disney World walking around the other day and was stopped twice."

On May 13, 2022, the cruise ship that departs out of the Port of Palm Beach debuted with the theme Margaritaville at Sea. The song debuted in 1976.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line rebranded the ship, which was named the Grand Classica.

The vessel, which first went to sea in 1991, features many sights and sounds for Parrotheads to enjoy.

It has 10 passenger decks and more than 600 cabins, several pools, a St. Somewhere spa, a Fins Up! fitness center, casino, theater and restaurants.

It includes the colorful Margaritaville parrot, as well as themed bedding and pillows in the cabins — even a restaurant featuring cheeseburgers.

Margaritaville at Sea.png

Also, there is a giant sculpture of flip flops in the atrium and a monster margarita blender at the back bar called "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."

Entertainment includes a piano bar and a musical, "Tales from Margaritaville: Jimmy's Ship Show."

The two-night cruises sail to Freeport, Bahamas, three to four days a week, including this Saturday.

Margaritaville at Sea cruise ship at Port of Palm Beach, Sept. 2, 2023
Passengers arrive at the Port of Palm Beach for the Margaritaville at Sea departure, Sept. 2, 2023, in Riviera Beach, Fla.

Next door to the port, developers want a Margaitaville-branded hotel.

"It'll be a hotel restaurant," Riviera Beach Councilman Douglas Lawson said. "It'll be a bar, lounge-type facility, and we'll have three other restaurant pads that'll be filled by hopefully national and local talent."

Developers hope to break ground in December, but it needs approval by the Community Redevelopment Agency and then the City Council.

Buffett shot the music video “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere," t the Jupiter Square Grooper tiki bar.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville is a U.S.–based hospitality company that manages and franchises a casual dining restaurant chain, retail stores and the hotel. There is a Buffett-themed channel on Sirius XM Radio.

The Margaritaville Beach Resort opened in Hollywood in 2015.

"Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, its unique 'no worries' vibe thrives amid tropical tranquility and coastal luxury," according to its website. "The highly-activated resort, beachfront entertainment complex, and 369 guest rooms with waterfront views allow you to escape the every day and simply chill."

WPTV's Briana Nespral caught up with longtime fans at the hotel. Though they are sad, they are honoring his legacy.

Marcelo and Patricia Lopez, who are husband and wife, drove up from Kendall after hearing the news.

"We are here to honor the son of a sailor, Jimmy Buffett," Patricia Lopez said. "All the Parrotheads today are hurting. Jimmy Buffett, thank you for all the memories, for all the years and your music, and your stories. They will live on. Tonight's tequila sunrise is in his honor."

Her husband said after learning about his death: "My message to him is, 'Hey Jimmy, enjoy that island in the sky. We'll catch up to you sometime.'"

Warren Delano, a hotel guest said: "He really did a lot for a lot of people, made a lot of people happy and we have to just carry that tradition with us forever. I'm feeling a little bit depressed but we're going to celebrate his life today. And every time I come to Hollywood, I'm going to celebrate his life. I come down here for all my vacations and it hurts to see what happened, but it just makes me feel that I'm here for him and Jimmy Buffett lives forever."

Brian Toney added: "Jimmy Buffett was an inspiration and I hope he's enjoying cheeseburgers in paradise. For me, Jimmy Buffett and the beach lifestyle are synonymous. You brought a lot of joy and pleasure to our lives and we miss you greatly, my friend."

His last concert was on Feb. 15 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.

In 1985, Buffett opened his first successful Margaritaville retail store in Key West.

“Actually, 'Margaritaville' became an iconic anthem for the city of Key West; everybody equates that song with our city,” Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez said in a statement Saturday. "I mean, when you say Margaritaville, you're talking about the city of Key West."

Buffett's company released the following statement:

"On behalf of everyone (who works, visits, or lives) in Margaritaville, we mourn the loss of Jimmy, a true national treasure, and express our heartfelt condolences to his family and everyone around the world who loves him.

Artist, performer, writer, navigator, friend, and entrepreneur - it is hard to imagine anyone who has ever brought so much fun to so many.

What Jimmy loved most was getting on a stage - big, small, indoors, outdoors, anywhere in the world - and changing the attitude and latitude of audiences to a vacation state of mind.

Jimmy lived his life like his songs: from beaches to boats to bars, sailing, surfing, and flying. He knew how to have fun and cared deeply about bringing everyone else along with him for the ride. When he flashed that signature smile one-on-one or to 100,000, somehow you just felt happy to be in his orbit.

His original idea for Margaritaville was to expand the opportunity for as many people to experience the lifestyle immortalized in his iconic song as possible.

We celebrate his life, believe his spirit lives on like a never-ending encore, and will see his radiant smile and that twinkle in his eye when we look towards the sun and will continue to share his way of life wherever, whenever we can.

Fins Up Forever."