Margaritaville comes back big in Biloxi

Jimmy Buffett again has a presence in Biloxi, and a crowd turned out Thursday to open the new Margaritaville Resort Biloxi.

Stilt walkers helped cut the ribbon and huge margaritas appeared for dignitaries before the first customers hurried inside.

Buffett was about to go on stage at a concert in Indianapolis and couldn’t attend the ribbon-cutting, but sent a message.

“Well, as you might guess, I am very excited about this latest and greatest Biloxi project,” Buffett wrote. “It has been a long and sometimes trying adventure to get the right kind of place in Biloxi and I couldn’t be happier with this great project, its location and your involvement,” he told the developers.

“On the water is what I always wanted,” he said of the location — the former Casino Magic, which hasn’t been open in the 11 years since Hurricane Katrina.

“The added attraction of the landing on Deer island is something that really strikes home,” said Buffett, who was born in Pascagoula and played his first professional gig in Biloxi.

Buffett said he hopes to get to the new resort for a quick visit in July and definitely for Saints games and angling for redfish.

Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich compared the excitement around the new family resort with when the first casino opened just next door in 1992.

“I’ve been bragging about it in five or six states,” Gilich said.

“We’d like you to brag about this in all 50 states,” said John Cohlan, CEO of Margaritaville Holdings, who had read Buffett’s letter to the crowd.

“This is awesome,” said Karen Gautreau, who was visiting Biloxi from Tylertown and read about the opening. “A lot of times we came (to the Coast) with the grandkids and there was nothing to do.”

Margaritaville Resort Biloxi offers games for all ages and a volcano climbing wall that “erupts” periodically in the Margaritaville restaurant as climbers enter through the floor. There are several other restaurants as well, and for those who stay in one of the 373 hotel rooms or suites, water views and sunsets, and access to the waterpark and lazy river, which will open Friday.