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Road Trip: Margaritaville on Pensacola Beach

I’m in Pensacola Beach, sitting on my enormous bed and watching the Gulf of Mexico waves pound the sand.  It’s early Monday morning and there’s a lone woman doing stretching exercises at the tide line and letting the fading ripples of the waves wash her feet. If there’s noise, I can’t hear it above the roar of the ocean coming through the open door to my balcony.

I’m staying at Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett’s hotel, which opened not quite two years ago.  I wanted a view of the water, and when I made my online reservations (about 30 minutes before I got to the hotel, after I'd surveyed the other hotels on this resort strip), I settled for a bayfront room for $149. But Sunday is a quiet night, and the front desk clerk upgraded me to an ocean front room, $199 if I had reserved it online. (The hotel staff doesn’t know that I’m a travel writer, and I’ve set up this post to go live after I’ve checked out.)

Margaritaroom.jpgI love the room. It’s big and airy with kind of a Key West décor – a small mural of the ocean, Bahamas shutters, faux-plank flooring like a deck, seashell light fixtures and other beach items. It’s got a small refrigerator, robes, a coffeemaker, free Wi-Fi, enough outlets to plug in all my gadgets for recharging at once, and a newspaper at my door this morning.

Last night I had a crabcake sandwich at the Frank and Lola Love Pensacola Café off the lobby. It was almost 10 p.m., and the hostess hesitated when I asked if the restaurant was still serving, but she was happy to seat me at the bar and handed me the menu. I ended up chatting with a young couple on a meandering trip back home from Biloxi to north Georgia who, like me, had decided on an impulse to stay here.

Back in my room, I stood on the balcony and stared into the dark, the ripples of white foam barely distinguishable.  I love the sound of waves crashing on the beach and thought about leaving my balcony door open, but the sound isn’t gentle – it’s a roar that would keep me awake.

Now it’s check-out time and I’m tempted to condense my sightseeing plans and stay another night – the ocean is mesmerizing – but Alabama calls.