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Mar. 26, 2019
8:52 am


Shared management at Lanier Islands brings transition, changes

By Pamela A. Keene
With the recent announcement that Safe Harbor Development is taking over management of various aspects of Lanier Islands, speculation has been rampant. Because Safe Harbor has been involved in several projects with Margaritaville, some people are wondering if Jimmy Buffett is coming to Lake Lanier.
Because the agreement is so new, many of the details are yet to be determined or announced, according to officials with Safe Harbor. However, the news release says this:  “Effective immediately, Safe Harbor – in partnership with Margaritaville, the global lifestyle brand – will assume management of LanierWorld. Safe Harbor President Darby Campbell has a longstanding relationship with Margaritaville, most recently developing a Margaritaville Hotel opening next year in Downtown Nashville. Safe Harbor will now operate the marinas and campgrounds at Lanier Islands. The group will also manage the destination’s special events programming, including the popular annual Magical Nights of Lights, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Other short-term enhancements will include development of an all-new RV park, as well as the addition of new wet and dry slips at the resort’s primary marina,” the news release said. 
The Williams’ family company, LLI Management Company, will continue to manage the resort’s accommodations, meeting and wedding sites, and on-site recreational venues such the equestrian center and Legacy on Lanier Golf Club, the news release said.
“We have been searching for a long time to find a creative financial and operations partner who shared our vision of what Lanier Islands could and should be,” said Virgil Williams, chairman of the board for LLI Management Company. “Darby Campbell and his team at Safe Harbor not only share that vision but also our passion for providing an unsurpassed guest experience.”
Eleven years ago, LLI Management took over the management and operations for Lanier Islands, doing major improvements, renovations and upgrades to the 1,500-acre resort. It opened LanierWorld, Sunset Cove and several other restaurants and amenities, including building the Legacy Villas and upgrading the facility’s infrastructure. Williams’ company has overseen management of the property, under the administrative oversight of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority.
The news release continues: “Together, Safe Harbor and Margaritaville – along with LLI Management – are planning for a phased multi-million-dollar transformation of Lanier Islands over the next several years." 
“With Virgil Williams and his family at the helm, Lanier Islands has thrived as a fun, accessible destination for families, couples and groups,” said Darby Campbell, owner and president of Safe Harbor Development. “We see huge potential working with Margaritaville to build upon what has been created here, while introducing new attractions, amenities, services and events that truly elevate the destination. We are excited to partner with the Williams family and to help position Lanier Islands for an incredible evolution.”
Safe Harbor Development, based in Knoxville, is one of the Southeast’s largest developers, private owners, and operators of marinas. Recent company projects include Margaritaville Island Hotel, a 130-room upscale hotel located in the heart of Pigeon Forge on the Island, and The Island in Pigeon Forge, a 280,000-square foot retail, restaurant and entertainment complex. Safe Harbor is also developing Margaritaville’s first urban escape, a 217-room hotel in the thriving “SoBro” area of Downtown Nashville. In addition, Safe Harbor’s current portfolio includes 12 marinas with more than 5,000 slips from New York to Georgia.
As for whether Jimmy Buffett is coming to Lake Lanier, that question remains to be answered. What is known: Lanier Islands will be undergoing more changes in the coming years under the leadership of two management teams: LLI Management and Safe Harbor Development.

Posted online 2/26/18
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