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I stayed in a ‘cabana’ at Margaritaville’s new RV park in Florida for $195 a night and I now understand the hype the brand has built

Brittany Chang/Insider

  • I spent a night at Margaritaville’s latest RV resort in Auburndale, Florida.
  • I don’t own an RV but I still had an amusing and relaxing time exploring the family-friendly property.
  • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville wants to open 30 to 50 RV parks through the next five years.

During a humid mid-May afternoon, I jumped in a rental car and drove an hour from the Orlando airport to Margaritaville’s newest RV resort in Auburndale, Florida tucked away between some homes and a lake.Two RVs parked at a RV resort with palm trees, thatched roofs.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And when I arrived, I wasn’t greeted with margaritas and a drunken crowd like the brand’s name might suggest.Sets of lounge chairs around a pool with a waterslide.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Instead, I found a family-friendly oasis of pools, palm trees, and peace.A bathhouse and laundry room building.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Before my trip, I didn’t know what to expect: I’d never been to an RV park.An outdoor garden with a small pond, palm trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Actually, let’s backtrack. I don’t even own an RV.RVs parked at a RV park.

Brittany Chang/Insider

If you’re scratching your head and wondering why I decided to visit an RV park without an RV, I understand. But let me explain.RVs parked at a RV park among palm trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

You might be familiar with Jimmy Buffett’s iconic “Margaritaville” song and the expanding chain of restaurants and resorts that have spawned from the simple “wasting away again in Margaritaville” lyrics.two signs hanging from a ceiling that read "The Original Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Cafe" and "The Original Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Store"The Margaritaville Cafe and Store in Key West, Florida

Chuck Wagner/Shutterstock

It seems like Margaritaville businesses are now popping up everywhere, but one of the hospitality empire’s quickest growing segments isn’t its recognizable bars or all-inclusive resorts.A group of people sitting around a table drinking at a Margaritaville BarA newlywed couple and friends drinking at a Margaritaville bar.

Alison Wright/Getty Images

Instead, it’s Margaritaville’s growing chain of RV resorts that bring the promise of tropical relaxation and booze to life on the road.A row of cabana cabins with palm trees in between.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The hospitality empire currently has three RV resorts: one in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.The logo of a reception area of a Camp Margaritaville.A Camp Margaritaville.

Margaritaville

But it’s not stopping there.A small food trailer next to a building.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The Florida resort I visited is one of the 30 to 50 RV parks Margaritaville plans to launch through the next five years, Wiseman told Insider in 2021.Sets of lounge chairs around a pool.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

The brand’s previous RV parks have seen “off the chart” receptions and reviews, Jim Wiseman, the president of development at Camp Margaritaville, told Insider in 2021.A bar under a wooden and thatched roof.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

If current locations are any indication of how future markets will perform, Camp Margaritaville’s growing chain could become a staple for both RV owners and general travelers looking for an outdoor resort.RVs parked at a RV park on a blue sunny day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

And I wanted to see what the big deal was for myself.A pier leading out into the lake.

Brittany Chang/Insider

As I said, I had no idea what to expect.Lounge chairs surrounding a fire pit in front of a roof with a thatched pattern.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But after spending a day and night alone at Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Cabana Cabins in Auburndale, I completely understand the hype now.Lounge chairs surrounding a fire pit in front of a roof with a thatched pattern.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The central Florida getaway isn’t just a place to park your RV while you visit nearby attractions like Walt Disney World Resort.walt disney world florida

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Camp Margaritaville Auburndale is its own theme park-like destination.A pool with lounge chairs surrounding it.

Brittany Chang/Insider

When I arrived, I was surprised to find an amusement center of family-friendly activities juxtaposing the pockets of relaxing outdoor lounge spaces.A play area with a red ball in the middle.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The blue skies, slow golf carts, and strolling families who waved hello as I passed made the RV park feel like a small utopian community.RVs parked at a RV park on a blue sunny day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And although I traveled alone, I had an absolute blast wandering around, enjoying the sun, and lounging by the pool.Lines of cabanas on with some trees, plants.

Brittany Chang/Insider

As an RV-less visitor, I had to stay in a cabana cabin.A line of cabanas on a blue sunny day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

These cabins function as a six-person tiny home starting at almost $195 a night, which is around the same price as the premium RV site.The patio on the cabana cabin.

Brittany Chang/Insider

A basic RV site ranges from around $70 to $200 and includes a grill, hookups, and a picnic table …A Camp Margaritaville sign denoting the slots.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… while the more expensive premium iterations have the same amenities plus a “tiki hut,” an outdoor television, and outdoor lounge seating.A shaded seating area on a bright blue day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But who needs an RV at an RV park when you have a tiny home all to yourself.A line of cabanas under bright blue skies, fluffy clouds.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I was only on-site for less than 24 hours, but my cabana cabin had everything I could’ve wanted for an extended stay.A cabana with a golf cart under bright blue skies.

Brittany Chang/Insider

There was a bedroom, bathroom, separate bed, kitchen …A full kitchen with countertop, stove, microwave, oven, sink, and cabinets.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… living room, and outdoor deck …The patio on the cabana cabin with a blue lounge chair.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… which proved to be more space than I needed.A sign that says "Here, we salt margaritas not sidewalks" under a window.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The WiFi was good, my deck chairs were comfortable, and my kitchen’s coffee maker worked great. What more could I ask for.Two coffee K-cups.

Brittany Chang/Insider

My cabana cabin was the perfect retreat from the resort’s shared amenities.Two cabana cabins with palm trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But to access these, I needed to use the golf cart waiting for me at the front of my cabin.A cabana with a golf cart. Both next to a car.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The property is walkable but sizable enough to fit 183 RV sites and 60 cabins, most of which looked unoccupied during my mid-week visit.A RV park with empty slots.

Brittany Chang/Insider

While using a golf cart wasn’t a necessity, it certainly cut back on my commute time between the pool and my cabin.A golf cart with the Camp Margaritaville logo.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Outside of the RV sites and cabins, there are several pockets of leisure activities, including a basketball court, pool with a boardwalk over the lake …Lounge chairs on a deck looking over a lake.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and the main entertainment area, the hub of fun activities located right by the entrance.The check-in building at Camp Margaritaville.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I found most of the on-site guests in this latter area playing mini-golf …A sign that reads "parrot island mini golf" besides trees, turf.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… sipping on booze at the outdoor bar …A bar under a wooden and thatched roof.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… venturing down the water slide …A waterslide into a pool next to palm trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… playing in the children’s playground and shallow water play area …A children's play water area.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and just lounging under the sun. It was idyllic as it sounds, and felt like the perfect center for the RV resort.A waterslide into a pool next to palm trees. There's a building next to the pool.

Brittany Chang/Insider

There was also an arcade, gym, corn hole, and dog park, but all of these were unoccupied.An empty arcade with games.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The guests who weren’t in the main leisure area were lazing at the second pool, which has full views of the lake …A swimming pool in front of lounge chairs on a bright blue day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… lounge seating on the lakeside boardwalk …An al fresco lounge area facing a lake.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… a somewhat confusing and empty sandy lounge …Thatched shading areas among a empty area.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and a bar, of course.An empty al fresco bar with a thatched roof, seating.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I spent whatever was left of my late afternoon lounging here on a pool chair under the sun.Beach chairs under a thatched lounge area.

Brittany Chang/Insider

By this late afternoon hour, all of the other guests had fled this pool.A pool with lounge chairs surrounding it.

Brittany Chang/Insider

It was just me, the waning heat, and my comfortable seatBeach chairs next to a pool.

Brittany Chang/Insider

It was my first time relaxing after a long morning and afternoon of travel.RVs parked at a RV park on a blue sunny day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And as I laid alone in the setting sun, I found a slice of respite from the busier main area.A dog park with a fence, toys and games inside the park.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Even the loud music blasting above my head couldn’t deter these moments to myself.Shaded lounge areas with thatched umbrellas.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I never pictured a Margaritaville RV park as a relaxing and peaceful destination, but that’s exactly what I found as a solo traveler.A shaded outdoor area with a thatched roof among trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

My quick stay at the tropical and slow RV resort was the perfect reprieve from my bustling life in New York City.Lounge chairs surrounding a fire pit in front of a roof with a thatched pattern.

Brittany Chang/Insider

It had everything I could’ve wanted during a warm summer afternoon in central Florida: a pool, quiet pockets of relaxation, and a large outdoor space that was fun to explore, although it definitely would’ve been more fun with friends or family.Beach chairs in front of a white gate.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Admittedly, Camp Margaritaville Auburndale would probably be a better vacation destination for a family in Florida, whether they owned a RV or not, versus a solo traveler.Cornhole with an American flag pattern.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The waterslide, outdoor space, and childrens’ play areas are perfect for young visitors.A child's playground among plants.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And the easy access to bars and lounge chairs will surely keep any weary parents happy.Rows of outdoor tables and umbrellas.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But the one feature that stood out to me the most was the feature that wasn’t even there: the lack of pronounced Margaritaville branding.Two cabana cabins with palm trees.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Margaritaville doesn’t build its RV parks from the ground up.Colorful lounge chairs surrounding a fire pit.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Instead, it refurbishes and refreshes existing RV parks to fit the Margaritaville brand and “lifestyle.”A check-in section at Camp Margaritaville.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Many of the amenities at Camp Margaritaville Auburndale were already present at Cabana Club, the RV park’s name before Margaritaville took over the property, according to YouTube video tours of the site.Outdoor lounge chairs and chairs by an outdoor area with a thatched roof.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: YouTube

When Margaritaville stepped in, the most glaring aesthetic change was in the updated logos and branding, which are now as bright and kitschy as you might expect.Palm trees among a Margaritaville sign.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But besides this, the resort doesn’t scream “Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.”Tshirts that say "Margaritaville"

Brittany Chang/Insider

There’s no life size cutout of Jimmy Buffett, lyrics painted on the walls, or employees walking around handing out margaritas.A back patio of the cabana with two lounge chairs.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But unlike Margaritaville’s new cruise ship, which I previously said had a lack of cohesive branding …A close up of a Margaritaville branded cruise sailing near land.

Margaritaville

Source: Insider

… this RV resort’s tropical and laid back spirit, palm trees, thatched huts, and hammocks subtly fit the paradisaical lifestyle of the brand. It didn’t need any flashing signs to feel like Margaritaville.A shaded area and picnic table in between two cabanas.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I may have been alone and RV-less at a RV park perfect for families, but I still enjoyed moseying around and claiming my stake in an empty lounge chair.Palm trees around a grassy patch, lounge chairs.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And if I ever found myself in the area again, I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to central Florida’s new hidden gem.Camp Margaritaville logo next to a sign that reads "Guest Se"

Brittany Chang/Insider

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