As COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions ease and vaccination rates rise, Americans are eager to hit the road and book a vacation, fueling the rebound that’s underway in leisure travel.
“We’re seeing a very steady recovery,” Margaritaville CEO John Cohlan told Yahoo Finance Live on the outlook for the hospitality industry. “Our business actually in the last two months is up over 2019, which is surprising.”
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort is looking to capitalize on that recovery and the pent-up demand for travel. This month, the company is opening one of New York City’s first new hotels since the pandemic began — Margaritaville Resort Times Square. It is Margaritaville’s first location in the Northeast.
“People have been coming to Times Square in New York as a tourist destination for generations,” Cohlan said, explaining why the company chose Times Square as the site of its new Margaritaville Resort. “Great sites to see, but no place to vacation. What we think we provide is the opportunity to have a vacation when you come to New York City.”
“People are looking for an experience, an authentic experience, and the great advantage we have is that there’s real authenticity behind it,” Cohlan added. “What I have learned is that if you deliver that experience, people will continue to enjoy it and allow you to grow with it.”
The Times Square property, which took more than three years to complete, features 234 island-inspired guest rooms, five restaurants and bars, and more 4,800 square feet of retail space. It will be an economic driver for New York, drawing in travelers as the city recovers from the pandemic. According to the Times Square Alliance, the neighborhood’s business development group, Times Square is attracting about 200,000 visitors a day, well below its average of 360,000 visitors pre-pandemic.
Aside from attracting tourists back to New York, the new resort will also create jobs in the city. As of June, employment in the leisure and hospitality sector in New York was still about 25% below pre-pandemic levels.