Interview: What to Expect From Margaritaville Island Reserve by Karisma

It’s been two years in the making – the partnership was first announced back in 2017 – but Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Margaritaville Holdings are on the verge of launching their new, joint all-inclusive brand, now named Margaritaville Island Reserve by Karisma. Travel Agent spoke with Kelly Poling, CEO of Premier Worldwide Marketing, Karisma's exclusive worldwide sales and marketing representative, and Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, chief marketing officer for Margaritaville, on what agents can expect from the new resorts, the first of which opens this winter. 

“We’ve spent the past two years honing in on what our offering is going to be – how do we harness the best of both worlds?” Poling says. 

Positioning the brand as “Margaritaville Island Reserve by Karisma,” Poling explains, puts it in the luxury space, but with the Margaritaville lifestyle to set it apart. 

“We believe that, in this sea of brands, the ones that are going to win are the ones that stand for something,” says Poling, describing Margaritaville as a “strong, consumer-facing lifestyle brand.”

As for Margaritaville, the new brand was an even longer time coming. 

“We knew we should be in the all-inclusive space for years,” says Baldanza-Dekker. “We’re lucky enough to be blessed with a brand that resonates with lots of folks, so we had our choice of partners.” One of the key factors in the decision, she says, was Karisma’s elevated food and beverage offerings, which she expects to work well with Margaritaville’s own F&B concepts. 

As for who agents should be recommending the new resorts to, Poling says that their target clientele is defined less by traditional demographics and more by a guest’s affinity for the Margaritaville ethos. (Margaritaville did, after all, grow out of Jimmy Buffet’s famously devoted fandom.)

“Margaritaville is one of those very true lifestyle brands defined by people who want to experience a true five-star luxury hotel combined with this sense of fun and escapism,” Poling says. “They are people who want exceptional quality without pretense.”

“Everybody is welcome – you take your shoes off at the door,” agrees Baldanza-Dekker. “It’s not intimidating.”

The resorts could also prove a draw to those who have enjoyed Margaritaville’s previous forays into the travel space, via its partnerships with brands such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Wyndham Vacation Rentals, by giving them a novel way to engage with the brand. “They don’t want it in the same way,” says Baldanza-Dekker. “They want to experience it in different ways.”

To that end, there are a number of new touches planned for the resorts, particularly with their food and beverage offerings. The resorts will have chef-curated menus, as well as culinary-focused “surprise and delight” moments, such as a “foodie hour,” in which staff bring gourmet snacks out to the pool or beach, so that guests don’t have to get up from their loungers. 

Also good to know: each accommodation at the new resorts will have its own bar, which guests will be able to customize to their preferences by picking from a selection of beverages once they arrive at the property. These bar offerings will be included in the all-inclusive rate. 

The first Margaritaville Island Reserve by Karisma, the Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun by Karisma, is set to open this winter. Also planned is a second Riviera Maya property, which will be accessible from the Cancun airport, as well as resorts in Jamaica and Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic

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