Monday, March 13, 2017

Wasting away in Margaritaville (literally)

I have lot maintained that Jimmy Buffett is a MARKETING GENIUS.

After all, he’s parlayed a rather modest repertoire of hits – not that I don’t yip for joy when “Margaritaville comes on the car radio, but I can never get beyond “Margaritaville” and “Come Sunday” when I do my Parrotheadcount – into a major brand. And a major fortune. There are the restaurants, the casinos, the clothing line…

And now - attention Baby Boomers – there’s his chain of retirement communities.

The first one will be located in Daytona Beach, Fla., and more locations are expected to be announced soon.

Latitude Margaritaville is being marketed as senior living “for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up.” It will essentially be a walkable neighborhood for older adults with a “no worries, tropical vibe” and will feature exercise facilities, an indoor lap pool, a band shell for live performances, and indoor and outdoor dining areas where Parrotheads can kick back and enjoy Margaritaville-branded food and drinks. According to the Latitude Margaritaville website, the sales center at Daytona Beach is scheduled to open this fall, and model homes should be ready early next year. (Source: Boston Globe)

Well, it’s not exactly my idea of a nightmare. A nightmare would be retiring to Branson, Missouri, and being swept into a non-stop Lawrence Welk concert (with the luffly Lennon Sisters). Still, I don’t want to spend my declining/reclining years surrounded by a bunch of shaggy-haired dudes in Hawaiian shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. I personally don’t want to sit around all day slurping piña coladas in my floral sarong, gardenia stuck behind my ear. (Actually, the piña coladas sound pretty good.) But being with all those folks who don’t want to grow up while they grow old. Someone that appeals to, well…

I’m all for staying independent, for maintaining a “youthful” outlook, and I’ve got nothing against forever-young-ness (as long as it comes with a strong overlay of also-adult-ness). It sure beats sitting around staring out the window. But, let’s face it, if we live long enough, a lot of us will age out of dying with our flip-flops on, and age into old age. No “tropical vibe” is going to forestall all the depredations of old age, at least not for all of us, much as we might be all fingers-crossed hopey about that being the case.

But I guess if you’re going to be wasting away, Margaritaville is as good a place as any.

Just not for me.

My ideal retirement community would feature a “book vibe”. There’d be libraries everywhere, and book swapping would be a way of life. There’d be four seasons, too – none of this 365 “tropical vibe.” Only we wouldn’t have to actually go out it in. We could look out at it, smiling benignly at snow we don’t have to shovel, ice we can’t slip on, leaves we don’t need to rake.

Outdoor dining would be fine – I’m with Latitude Margaritaville there. But I’d want something beyond Margaritaville fare. Beyond piña coladas, I’m not quite sure what the Buffett diet is. Papaya in salad? Fried conch? Good once in a while, but as a steady diet? I’d vote for a bit more variety.

You can buy in to Daytona for as little as the low-$200s. Not clear what happens when you really start wasting away. And, as a business proposition, what’s the long-term outlook on this. Are there rising generations of Parrotheads, or are they all dying out, as will be happening over the next several decades to the Baby Boomers.

It’s actually kind of fun to fast forward and imagine what the culty brands will be for the millennial generation. Will there by Justin Bieber retirement communities? Taylor Swift? Bruno Mars? Lady Gaga? I’ve gotta say that Parrotheads sound like more fun. But it’s still a case of include me out. I may not start wearing muu-muus and orthopedic sandals from the Vermont Country Store, but I do not believe I’ll be sitting around in a Hawaiian shirt, either.

But never say never. Maybe Margaritaville will be really good on the medicinal marijuana front…


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