Look, another music-themed hotel in Nashville! Margaritaville CEO states his case for authenticity

Dec 05, 2017

Nashville Business Journal
By Adam Sichko

December 5, 2017

Look, another music-themed hotel in Nashville! Margaritaville CEO states his case for authenticity By Adam SichkoDecember 5, 2017The only thing missing from Tuesday's groundbreaking for the $82 million Margaritaville hotel in downtown Nashville was Jimmy Buffett, who wrote the song 40 years ago. Otherwise, the Dec. 5 event was just what you'd expect.

Two stilt-walkers, one dressed as a cowgirl and the other as a pirate, created balloon hats for attendees drinking LandShark Lager or (of course) margaritas made with Margaritaville-brand tequila. SiriusXM's Radio Margaritaville station was set up for a remote broadcast as servers passed around food from Tom Morales' TomKats Catering. Several rounds of "Fins up!" calls were made from the mic.

Margaritaville, set to open in mid-2019, will be but the latest in the parade of hotels swooping into Nashville and hammering home the "Music City" theme in an effort to seize their share of business from tourists, business travelers and convention attendees. John Cohlan, CEO of Margaritaville Holdings (his business card features a palm tree icon), believes his will stand apart.

"The obvious observation is that Margaritaville started as a song, so Nashville is a logical place for us," Cohlan said, noting that the number of Margaritaville hotels companywide will double in two years, to 25.

"It was based on a song, but this brand is as much about the message of those lyrics. This is really about a way of life," Cohlansaid. "Everyone in the hotel business talks about 'lifestyle brands.' I could argue we're maybe the only real lifestyle —we're literally about a lifestyle. We're not trying to be another, 'Oh, it's music coming to Nashville.' Music is the soul of what this brand is about, but the music stands for a way of life."

The 12-story hotel will include 165 rooms —some of the roughly 4,500 rooms proposed or under construction in SoBro alone, as seen on our Crane Watch map. Two floors will hold a total of 52 timeshare condos, owned and operated by Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham Inc.

"We're not high-end luxury, but we are really good value for the money and a very high-quality experience," Cohlan said.

Buffett is no stranger to Nashville: He used to live and work in the city, and he's playing Bridgestone Arena on New Year's Eve. His brand is familiar too: Almost eight years ago, Margaritaville opened a restaurant on Lower Broad in partnership with high-powered Nashville real estate investment group Corner Partnership, run by Mark Bloom and Larry Papel.

Cohlan called present-day Nashville "a world away" from 2010. "It's clear to us: The experience we offer in the food-and-beverage environment is one that has resonated here," he said.

Cohlan said you can expect to see Buffett at the hotel. "He likes to drop by unannounced," Cohlan said.

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