From AARP: “New Retirement Village Attracts Jimmy Buffett Fans“
Is it us, or does Latitude Margaritaville, a new retirement village that’s located in Daytona Beach, Florida, sound suspiciously close to a couple of Jimmy Buffett songs? Turns out this pastel-hued development for boomers is as near as anyone can get to living inside Buffett’s brain.
You can eat a Cheeseburger in Paradise (after his 1978 tribute to a favorite food) at the Latitude Bar & Chill or exercise your pup at Barkaritaville dog park. The place’s tidy pink-and-blue clapboard homes mimic the singer-songwriter’s candy-colored album covers. When I dropped in last July, I found myself starting to act like a character in one of those songs, day drinking at a tequila-fueled cocktail party and pleasantly wasting away the next few hours in an airy beach house, which I’d rented for a couple of days to get a taste of life here.
Latitude Margaritaville positions itself as a younger, hipper place to retire, with marketing materials that deploy the ubiquitous slogan, “Growing older but not up.” That’s the title of a 1981 Buffett song, and it’s Buffett himself who is the development’s main selling point. As a self-described living symbol of the boomer generation, he is a perfect tout for a community tailor-made for the aging youthquake whose music and movies and books and fashions dominated the world for decades. For Buffett, it’s a savvy brand extension: His Margaritaville resorts, restaurants, casinos and merchandise have already made him a half-billionaire.
And indeed, since the first homes went on sale at Daytona Beach in November 2017, Buffett’s company has sold more than $600 million worth of units across three locations: the original one, Daytona Beach (which recently upped its capacity to 3,900 homes); Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Panama City Beach, Florida, where Margaritaville Watersound, zoned to include up to 170,000 homes, will be the largest “active living” retirement community in the United States, if fully built out. But that’s still a big if.
No one was more surprised at the notion of Buffett opening retirement communities than the singer himself. “When they approached me about the idea,” he recalls, “I said, ‘Really? They want to live in Margaritaville?’ ”
Conspicuous in the list of Buffett’s recent achievements — which also include best-selling books and a SiriusXM radio station with 9 million weekly listeners — are major undertakings such as a $370 million resort in Times Square that opened last July and a show, Escape to Margaritaville, that played on Broadway in 2018 and recently resumed a national tour. Such projects make it clear that Buffett is nowhere close to retiring. “They’re going to have to drag me off that stage or out of the cockpit,” he says, laughing. “I want to be the poster child for the person who could retire but doesn’t.”
The utterance might seem a major PR gaffe for a newly minted retirement mogul, but Buffett knows that his fans don’t expect him to live as they do. His style is aspirational; he has been a lifestyle influencer since before the term existed. One of Buffett’s major aims in building retirement havens, he says, is so that his fans can finally experience the life he sings about. “Lot of people worked harder than they played in their real lives,” he says. “This is their time to play.”