Hotel News We Noted: July 27, 2012


scrub island resort


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that this is the month of the Olympics – and we’ll be doing our due diligence by bringing you the best hotel news, packages and trend data over the next few weeks in this column and elsewhere. This week, however, we’re highlighting spots of summer with a slew of new hotel stay reviews, openings, trends and far-out amenities.

As always, if you have a comment, thought, or want to share details from a great hotel you’ve recently experienced, send us an email.

Now Open: Scrub Island
If it’s private island luxury you crave (who doesn’t?) try the newly opened, yet unfortunately named, Scrub Island Resort on the east end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (shown at top). As the first luxury resort built in the destination in more than 15 years, the hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Set on a private island and rugged cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, you’ll enjoy a choice of 52 rooms as well as two-, three-, and four-bedroom villas, a spa, restaurants, three private beaches and a 55-slip marina. Rates for a July stay start at $400 per night.

Opening Soon: Margaritaville Atlantic City
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea, on a blanket with my margarita, that’s where I’ll be. More likely, we’ll be in the casino at the Margaritaville Atlantic City, predicted for a May 2013 opening. A hotel-within-a-hotel at the Resorts Casino, the Jimmy Buffett hotel will not be the first – there are already casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Las Vegas, as well as a hotel in Florida and a number of the iconic restaurants nationwide. USA Today reports that the complex will have a restaurant, bar, shops, year-round beach bar and the first ever Margaritaville-themed coffee shop.

Fun Perk: Sing-A-Long Movies at the Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba
This fun Starwood resort adds a twist to their traditional “dive-in” movie theme with a family-friendly Sing-a-Long Movie Summer. Every Tuesday through the end of August, guests gather in the resort’s free-form pool to watch and sing along with classic films like “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Wizard of Oz” and more. Summer rates at The Westin, Aruba start at a reasonable $179.

Hotel Review: The Reef at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
We are going to give the most positive review we can of our recent weekend at Atlantis in the Bahamas‘ Paradise Island. Keep in mind, we’re probably not the hotel’s target demographic – we don’t have kids, weren’t traveling on a company’s incentive trip budget, and don’t generally love gigantic hotels. The famed casino-resort-cruise ship stopping point was to be our home away from home at the wedding of a friend, the one reason we didn’t book a stay at the One & Only Ocean Club on the island instead.

The price for The Reef? A steep $398 per night pre-tax, which totaled out to an additional $120 per night … and this with a near 50 percent wedding rate discount. The rooms were spacious and the kitchenettes offered a good perk – we ordered from the handy FoodStore2Go to stock up for breakfast and other munchies. Red Flower bath amenities were a lovely touch; the horribly scratchy sheets (we’ve had better at a Hampton Inn for sure) were not.

Generally speaking, service was beyond, even the expected, “Caribbean time” slow. The staff (with the exception of housekeeping) was rude and unhelpful, and the resort was packed to the gills with the patrons dropped off from cruise ships each day. The Cove, the resort’s most luxe portion, was by far the best for adults, but even then, a DJ spinning morning and night at the pool made it feel more like Las Vegas or Miami then a relaxing Caribbean escape.

Rooms in other towers – the Beach, Coral and Royal – looked dated and in need of refurbishment. Sadly, rain deterred our plans to visit amenities like the Dolphin Cay and our time was cut short at the Aquaventure water park, but those definitely seemed worthy of a visit, particularly for families with children. The Mandara Spa, however, was a standout – the spa was still very crowded (go early in the day) but the treatment was one of the best we’ve had.

The final verdict? It’s the perfect day visit from a cruise ship or another resort. If you have kids and want to entertain them, it’s an easy alternative to Disney World. If you’re on someone else’s dime, enjoy! The island is beautiful. If you’re coming as a couple, save your money and go elsewhere.

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Hotel will open despite oil spill

Jimmy Buffett isn’t going to let a little oil spoil his fun. The margarita-loving crooner is set to open his 162-room Margaritaville Hotel in Pensacola, Florida and said the threat of the BP oil wreaking havoc on his beaches isn’t of concern.

Buffet’s $50 million hotel sits on the Gulf near the main section of Pensacola Beach, on land where Hurricane Ivan destroyed a previous hotel in 2004. Clearly not phased by the potential threat of the oil spill, Buffett told news sites he has no plans to delay the opening of his hotel.

“This will pass,” he said as walked along the city’s beachfront and fishing pier with Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist.

“Here’s an opportunity to be a real Floridian, because if we have to shore up here, we can do it.” Buffet told South Florida’s CBS4 reporters this weekend. He has his own marketing campaign in mind to get people to come to the panhandle. “It might be more fun to come down and help clean up than just lay around on the beach.”

Well put, Mr. Buffett. Grab your margarita, find your cheeseburger and sit back in a new kind of paradise in Pensacola. Cheers!

[via CBS4 South Florida]

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville hotel set to open in Florida this summer

This summer, the beachfront of Pensacola, Florida will become home to the world’s first Margaritaville hotel. The hotel offers 162 rooms and suites, and each one is “inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle” of the man behind the brand – Jimmy Buffet.

Upon arrival, guests are welcomed with fresh Florida orange juice and a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico (hopefully without an oil slick).

The hotel restaurant will of course serve signature dishes, such as the “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, and a Margaritaville restaurant is scheduled to open next to the hotel in 2011.

The hotel is on target to open in late June or early July, with rates starting at $299 in the peak season, and $179 in the off season. A reservation request page can be found here.