Margaritaville Resort could be open by Memorial Day

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, April 5, 2018

The buildings that will house the Portofino Hotel/ Margaritaville Resort are repainted, the signs are up, and work continues as hotel owner Vicksburg Hotels LLC aims for what is hoped to be a grand opening for the first official weekend of summer.

“We’re trying to make Memorial Day,” Vicksburg Hotel LLC representative Greg Stewart said. “We’re doing the best we can; we’re working hard. We hoping by the first of May we’ll be able to make an announcement on a date.”

He said work continues on the pool area and in the hotel, and equipment is still being delivered.

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“We’re waiting on new furniture, so that’s the delay,” Stewart said.

The resort, which is using the buildings from the former Grand Station Hotel and Casino, will include restaurants and a family entertainment center, which company officials said will include the latest in video and electronic games and other activities.

The family entertainment center will be in a building on the west side of Levee Street, which once served as the access to the Grand Station’s floating casino.

According to plans filed with the city’s community development department, the pool with a waterslide will be built on the top level of the adjacent parking deck just north of the hotel, and feature different depths of 3, 4 and 5 feet with “splashdown” area for the slide, and a splash pad and children’s area in the center of the pool.

Vicksburg Convention Center executive director Annette Kirklin said word of Margaritaville’s opening is reaching areas outside of Vicksburg.

“We’ve already had so many inquiries from conventions,” she said. “We’ve actually booked one in October because it was opening. It’s already spurred a lot of enthusiasm from outside Vicksburg; that’s very important.”

Harrah’s Casino operated at the site of the Portofino from 1993 until 2003, when it sold its Vicksburg property to Columbia Sussex.

The names on the casino and hotel changed to Horizon until the fall 2010, when Tropicana Entertainment, which was part of Columbia Sussex and operated Horizon, went bankrupt and closed the casino.

In 2011, the venue reopened as Grand Station, but closed in March 2012 amid bankruptcy.

From 1993 until the Grand Station bankruptcy, the casino was located on a barge built to look like a riverboat that was moored in the Yazoo Diversion Canal next to the hotel and surrounded by a cofferdam.

The former casino vessel was auctioned for scrap metal in April 2013 and hauled away.

Vicksburg Hotel acquired the former Grand Station Hotel and Casino property in 2014, and renamed it Portofino. The hotel closed its doors in July 21, 2015, and has not reopened.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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