Waste Away Again: Newport’s New Margaritaville

Leah Barnard, Guest Writer

A new expansion of Jimmy Buffett’s resort chain, Margaritaville, has started construction in the Newport on the Levee district of Newport, Ky.

The Margaritaville resort is set to be completed in Fall  2026. The resort will be located beside the Ohio River, consisting of 264 rooms and a JWB Grill along with other amenities overlooking the Cincinnati skyline.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Slated to be completed by Fall 2026, construction of the next Margaritaville resort has commenced across the Ohio River in Newport. 

The project will be completed by a joint venture between Stormont Hospitality Group and North American Properties.

Renowned singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett passed away in early September following a four-year-long battle with skin cancer. Following his passing, long time devotees and newfound fans eagerly streamed his music, leading to a revival of Buffett’s music and brand. Margaritaville Hotel & Resorts is currently in the midst of an expansion following Buffett’s death, with another adult-only resort opening internationally in Riviera Maya, Mexico. 

Drawing inspiration from Buffett’s hit song of the same name, the Margaritaville brand boasts a multimillion dollar empire that continues to preserve the late singer’s legacy. 

With financial incentives paving the way for the Margaritaville resort’s future and the resort preparing to open its doors, it is predicted the resort will develop Kentucky’s tourism industry, as well as bring a new job market and cultural scene to Newport. 

“Newport is an important part of the $1.95 billion industry in the region,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the Kentucky tourism guide company meetNKY. “This hotel project will offer new visitors to the area an elevated experience on the Kentucky waterfront.”

The Newport Margaritaville resort is predicted to cost $133.6 million. The resort is slated to offer 282 jobs total, 187 full-time and 95 part-time, for those within the tri-state area. The job opportunities will be spread between the resort’s restaurants, hotel and entertainment venues.

“With the amount of customers a typical Margaritaville (resort) attracts, it could substantially help the local economy,” first-year marketing major Dakota Brooks said. “Margaritaville Resorts are good by themselves. It’s an experience.”

According to the company’s website, the company reported a gross annual revenue of $2.2 billion in 2022. This revenue was predominantly generated from their “lodging locations” and restaurants, similar to the resort and restaurants planned for Newport.

“We just celebrated our best year on record for Kentucky tourism in 2022,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in a news release. “With exciting projects like Margaritaville being announced, we know this success will only continue.”

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority granted initial authorization this past week for roughly $33 million in tax incentives for the project to the Newport Hotel Associates, pending final approval. 

Under the provisions of the Tourist Development Act, projects that fall within the eligibility of the tourism sector, such as the Margaritaville Resort, can recoup up to 25% of their sanctioned development expenses through the sales tax generated by the production. 

Senior nursing major Elizabeth Herron is a self-proclaimed Jimmy Buffett mega-fan. She is excited for the resort and the role it plays with honoring Buffett’s memory.

“I’m so excited to have a place so close by to celebrate such an amazing singer-songwriter and enjoy his music in a fun and immersive way,” Herron said.