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Wastin’ away, close to home: Margaritaville rebranding in full swing at Lanier Islands
Entertainment site takes on Jimmy Buffett theme
Lanier Islands resort in South Hall is being rebranded with a Jimmy Buffet theme. Knoxville, Tenn.-based Safe Harbor Development has spent $4.5 million over the past two months creating Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. LanierWorld, home of the resort’s water-based attractions, is now known as LandShark Landing, which will feature a live entertainment stage, fire pits and several eateries and drinking spots. - photo by For The Times

A new era in attractions is in full sail at Lanier Islands resort in South Hall — rebranded with a Jimmy Buffett theme.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Safe Harbor Development has spent $4.5 million over the past two months creating Margaritaville at Lanier Islands.

Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

Where: Lanier Islands resort, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford

More info: 770-945-8787

Noteworthy: Free gate entry until Thursday, May 24

“A lot of it was behind the scenes, redoing what was there and adding new equipment, things of that nature,” said Darby Campbell, Safe Harbor owner and president, in an interview last week. “But it was a lot of work, and we were able to get it done.”

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Darby Campbell - photo by For The Times
In an earlier news release, Campbell said, “Our goal is to support Lanier Islands’ position as a top all-season destination in the Southeast, incorporating the Margaritaville lifestyle in ways that keep the fun going all year long. We ... are confident those who visit Margaritaville at Lanier Islands will return again and again.”

LanierWorld, home of the resort’s water-based attractions, is now known as LandShark Landing, as Safe Harbor works to create what it calls “a lifestyle synonymous with fun and escapism.”

LandShark Landing will feature a live entertainment stage, fire pits and several eateries and drinking spots, including LandShark Bar & Grill (formerly Sunset Cove Café & Club), License to Chill Bar, L2C Grill, Feeding Frenzy Fried Shack and Dog and Brews.

Margaritaville also features Paradise Beach & Water Park, where guests can enjoy 1,200 tons of recently added Florida sand while enjoying a wide range of entertainment, a water play area for kids and weekend events with live performances.

Gianni’s Italian Bistro & Pizzeria is now Paradise Beach Cantina, serves up burritos, tacos, fresh salads, sangria and margaritas. Frank and Lola’s Pizzeria offers pizza, as well as a variety of wraps and salads. And the Tiki Bar feature frozen beverages and big screen TVs.

The water park has doubled in size, featuring the Family Fun Zone, water slides, a new beach volleyball court and Thunderbolt Triple Zip, a zip line over Paradise Beach that suspends guests 50 feet in the air.

The Shark Shack in the Family Fun Zone will serve food and drinks.

Paradise Beach no longer charges a fee for access, with exception of special events.

“I have high hopes for (Margaritaville),” said Kevin Hooper, a Gainesville resident and member of the Lake Lanier Parrot Head Club, one of many clubs around the country who enjoy and are inspired by Buffett’s laid-back, island-style music.

“(Lanier Islands) is a beautiful venue. I know how pretty it is and if we don’t take advantage of it, it’s just a waste.”

Hooper said he would like to see Buffett, co-owner of Margaritaville Holdings, a company also involved in the makeover, make an appearance at the resort at some point.

“He does that on occasion ... and it’s usually not a pre-announced thing,” he said.

Campbell said there “are one or two (properties) that come to the top that (Buffett) would be most likely to visit, and I’ll tell you this is one I’d be very surprised if he did not (make an appearance).”

“You never know about Jimmy. He just likes to show up,” he said.

Safe Harbor has made other improvements at the resort, including a “refreshing” of Lanier Islands’ marina and docks, now known as the Port of Indecision Marina.

The Blue Ridge and Shoal Creek campgrounds, as well as a new, luxury RV resort, coming fall 2018, will also be part of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands.

Slated for a later phase beginning in 2019, a dry-stack facility — as well as 250 wet slips — will be added, expanding Lanier Islands’ on-site boat storage facilities.

“We have ambitious plans to introduce even more amenities and events in future phases,” Campbell said. “This destination will continue to evolve each year, creating the perfect balance of attractions, entertainment and lakeside relaxation.”

The sweeping changes got their start in January when the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority voted to sublease the operations to Safe Harbor and Margaritaville.

LLI Management Co., owned by the Virgil Williams family, will keep the primary lease on the resort, handling the hospitality side of the resort, such as Legacy Lodge and Conference Center, and “development of the balance of the islands,” Williams said.

“We are so excited about all of the improvements and the commitment by Margaritaville to create year-round activities for our guests,” Williams said in a statement last week. “This aligns with my family’s vision of creating a true destination resort for the state of Georgia.”