Exclusive: Margaritaville coming to Belize in 2020

Ambergris Caye is host to a coral reef and once opened, the Margaritaville resort will offer scuba diving and other water-based activities. Photo credit: Getty Images/Oli Eva

Hotel Management on Thursday learned resort hotel brand Margaritaville is developing a new property on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island.

Rick Cunningham, VP of hotel development at Margaritaville, told HM his company took over construction of a previously abandoned development on Ambergris Caye’s north shore and is repositioning it as a Margaritaville resort, utilizing the site's seven existing buildings that reportedly were under development as a hotel. The VP could not confirm the number of guestrooms that would be finessed out of the existing structures.

Cunningham added Margaritaville will be expanding the resort's footprint by building two more structures consisting of 71 residential condominium units, with an overall opening date for some time in 2020. The one- and two-bedroom residences will feature verandas, furnished kitchens and other amenities.

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“This [site] was a project that was built during the last downturn, but was never completed,” Cunningham said. “We are now redoing it under the Margaritaville brand with a new design, new food-and-beverage concept and more.”

Cunningham said talks to take over the project began roughly 10 months ago, and the decision to commence development was made after visiting the site. The property is primarily accessible by boat via the island’s 400-foot pier.

“This entrance is what makes the property so luxurious,” Cunningham said. “From the resort, guests can take a boat to a nearby reef for diving and kayaking.”

Cunningham referred to the development as “phase one” of the resort’s life cycle, suggesting Margaritaville plans on expanding the property’s stable of rooms and residences based on demand.

When asked if Margaritaville anticipates any challenges as a result of picking up a once-abandoned project, Cunningham said the structures were well maintained in the years since the original project tanked. The executive doesn’t foresee any weather-related difficulties in the future, as the hotel is protected by a nearby reef that helps shield the island from waves, storms and floods.

Logistics, though, are top of mind, he noted. “Because we’re building in the Caribbean we have to import materials, so that does take longer,” Cunningham said. “However, that is normal for the region. We’re just eager to get going.”