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Lake of the Ozarks' Tan-Tar-A resort sold, rebranding as Margaritaville property

Lake of the Ozarks' Tan-Tar-A resort sold, rebranding as Margaritaville property

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Tan-Tar-A Resort, a popular Lake of the Ozarks hotel and conference center for more than a half-century, will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation and be rebranded as a Margaritaville hotel, the chain of resorts named for singer Jimmy Buffett’s best-selling song.

The 500-room Osage Beach resort 185 miles southwest of St. Louis is joining a growing list of Margaritaville hotels located primarily in coastal vacation spots, including Key West and the Cayman Islands.

Its new name effective March 2019 will be Tan-Tar-A, a Margaritaville Resort, said the resort’s longtime general manager Fred Dehner. All 500 of the resort’s employees are being retained, he said, and new food and beverage employees will be hired for a Margaritaville restaurant and LandShark Bar & Grill that are being added.

On June 29, Miami investment firm Driftwood Acquisitions & Development acquired Tan-Tar-A Resort from Bethesda, Md.-based CWCapital with joint venture partner Sefira Capital, a Miami-based investment boutique, the companies announced Thursday. Driftwood has a licensing agreement with Margaritaville Holdings, Buffett’s company. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Buffett, 70, the flip-flops-wearing creator of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and other songs, whose fans often show up to concerts in Hawaiian shirts, has expanded his business empire to include real estate, alcoholic beverages and restaurants.

The resort will remain open while the property is renovated to incorporate Margaritaville’s “casual-luxe” design elements, Driftwood said in its announcement, but specific upgrade details were not released. Margaritaville hotels tout themselves as “laid back, welcoming atmospheres.”

Driftwood, which manages more than 40 hotels, also on Thursday announced the acquisition of the Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa in Costa Rica. Tan-Tar-A and Flamingo will become Margaritaville’s 10th and 11th resorts.

Margaritaville was founded in 2015. There are 20 additional Margaritaville hotels in development, Driftwood said. Driftwood’s sister company, Driftwood Hospitality Management, managed Tan-Tar-A and Flamingo Beach prior to the acquisitions.

“It’s a dream come true for us to partner with Margaritaville, as we help to rebrand Tan-Tar-A and Flamingo Beach,” Carlos Rodriguez, Driftwood’s chief executive officer said in a statement. “The Tan-Tar-A acquisition has helped us reach our 2017 growth goal already, just halfway through the year, and Flamingo Beach has been near and dear to my heart for a very long time.”

Popular destination

Tan-Tar-A has been a tourist destination for St. Louisans and those from outside the region since the late St. Louis developer Burton Duenke opened the resort on 70 acres in 1960.

When it opened, Tan-Tar-A was described as a “luxury-styled development, having three-room apartments, most of them equipped with huge stone fireplaces,” according to a 1961 Post-Dispatch article. Marriott acquired the resort in the late 1970s.

Tan-Tar-A Estates, a home development adjacent to the resort that’s not associated with the resort sale, is still managed by Duenke’s family. Meghan Duenke, Burton Duenke’s granddaughter, said Tan-Tar-A was named after a boat her grandmother Virginia saw while on vacation in the Bahamas.

“She kept a little black book with places she liked, and she wrote it down,” Meghan Duenke said, adding a major renovation of the resort will be beneficial to the Lake of the Ozarks area.

“It’s time for a new look and a new era,” she said. “It can’t be the same forever.”

Juxtaposed with Buffett’s laid-back image, the origin of Tan-Tar-A’s name comes from the Blackfoot Indian language and means “one who moves swiftly.”

The resort’s property ultimately expanded to encompass more than 420 acres, with two golf courses, a 103-slip marina, multiple restaurants, 91,000 square feet of event space and an indoor water park.

On social media Thursday, some bemoaned the addition of the Margaritaville name, saying teachers’ or corporate groups that hold conferences at Tan-Tar-A likely won’t book rooms at a property named after an alcoholic beverage.

But at least one group indicated its plans won’t change. The Missouri Association of School Librarians posted on Twitter on Thursday that the group was excited about the changes planned and said the name change won’t impact its upcoming conferences at the resort.

“It certainly won’t be a problem for us,” said Jill Hancock, who provides association management services to the librarians organization and other groups. “It’s really exciting to see a number of changes and renovations in the works already, and my understanding is that they’ll still have a very family-friendly atmosphere,” she said.

Jimmy Buffett fans in St. Louis are looking forward to the addition of a resort nearby with ties to the celebrity.

Brandi Shufeldt, 30, of Arnold, is the social director for the St. Louis Parrot Head Club, a Buffett fan group with more than 200 members.

The group, which holds charity events tied to its outings, hasn’t yet held an event at Tan-Tar-A, but that will likely change now, Shufeldt said.

“It’ll be a great gathering area and great for weekend events,” she said. “I think it’s great for Lake of the Ozarks and our club.”

Lisa Brown • 314-340-8127

@lisabrownstl on Twitter

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