by Terence Baker | January 01, 2007

The world might be getting smaller, but its hotel and tourism developments are not. Monolithic resort complexes and city makeovers -- complete with multiple hotels, restaurants, shopping and recreational offerings -- are now under development around the world. For meeting planners, these vast projects create attractive destinations unto themselves, where groups of nearly any size can stay within strolling distance of one another, and multiday meetings can be accomplished with no need for ground transportation. A year ago, M&C profiled seven megaresorts in the works (“Vast Resorts,” January 2006). Here’s an inside look at another eight projects.

the Fair­mont Mayakoba near Cancun, Mexico

The Fairmont Mayakoba
near Cancun, Mexico

Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya already has its fair share of hotels, but the Mayakoba development, about 40 miles to the south of Cancun, promises to dwarf them all. If all goes according to plan, the project eventually will include five resorts, only one of which -- the 401-room Fairmont Mayakoba -- has opened. That property debuted last April and features four restaurants; a 20,000-square-foot spa; an 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course; and 40,000 square feet of event space, including two ballrooms.

When completed, Mayakoba will have cost its backers $2 billion, counting a 120-room hotel from Singapore-based Banyan Tree; the 120-room Laguna Kai, a Rosewood Resort; a 110-villa Kor Hotel Group property called the Viceroy Riviera Maya; and a slightly smaller property called La Casa que Canta, or the House that Sings.

In charge of the construction is Spanish company Obrascon Huarte Lain, perhaps better known for its specialty in restoration work at UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The lawns and plant life at the property are watered by a chain of lagoons and canals. And there are no paved roads on site; transport is entirely via trails, bike paths and waterways.

Juan Aguilar, director of investor relations, says the property’s design is a “result of real environmental concerns that have been overcome -- without skimping on luxury. We knew when we started building here that we would not repeat the high-intensity construction seen in Cancun.”

French Lick
The French Lick (Ind.) Springs Hotel
is part of larger developments
in the works.

French Lick
French Lick, Ind.

The first stage of the $382 million restoration and expansion of the French Lick Springs Resort Casino opened in November with the 442-room French Lick Springs Hotel. The property, which was completely overhauled, dates from 1901, when the town was developed as a spa destination for its Pluto mineral spring.

The resort’s 84,000-square-foot casino, shaped like a Mississippi paddle-steamer, has brought back gaming to Indiana after a 60-year absence. Another restored property on the grounds, the boutique-style West Baden Springs Hotel, will open this spring with 240 rooms.

The resort also features eight restaurants, a bowling alley and 45 holes of golf, including a new 18-hole Pete Dye course. Also on site are two spas (with a total of 36 treatment rooms between them) and a 109,000-square-foot conference center with two ballrooms measuring 13,000 and 6,700 square feet, both with terraces overlooking formal gardens.