Luxury resort construction begins

RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico -- The ultraluxury Mayakoba resort community in the Riviera Maya is taking shape, with two of the three planned resorts already under construction.

Mayakoba will encompass some 1,600 acres of beachfront real estate approximately 40 miles south of Cancun near the town of Playa del Carmen.

The latest hotel company to break ground at Mayakoba is Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which entered into an agreement with Madrid-based Obrascon Huarte Lain S.A. to manage a 401-room luxury resort within the development.

The Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya is scheduled to open in late 2005.

"Development of this resort is a strategic move to build on Fairmont's presence in Mexico, where we already have established strong brand identity with our two Acapulco resorts," said William Fatt, CEO of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

Fairmont's properties in Acapulco are the Fairmont Acapulco Princess and the Fairmont Pierre Marques.

In addition to a long-term management contract, Fairmont said it will invest $10 million for an equity interest of approximately 15% in the resort.

Fairmont also said it will have the option to take part in the development of an adjacent luxury vacation ownership complex.

The Fairmont Mayakoba will have 97 rooms in two-story buildings, a 16,000-square-foot spa, three restaurants and 30,000 square feet of meetings space.

In addition, Fairmont said it will manage and have "priority access" to a Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course, one of two courses planned for Mayakoba.

Meanwhile, international real estate development firm JMJ Development announced the start of construction on Laguna Kai, a mixed-use resort and residential project that will feature a 120-suite hotel managed by Dallas-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

The entire Laguna Kai development will include the Rosewood-managed Laguna Kai resort, a spa and beach club, a "retail village" and 70 privately owned villas that will be priced starting at $500,000.

Laguna Kai is scheduled to open by fall 2005.

Laguna Kai will be surrounded by mangroves, winding lagoons and a private beach. After checking in, guests will be taken to their rooms via boat along the lagoons.

"Laguna Kai will be a true ultra-luxury experience, taking advantage of the natural beauty and ecology of the area," said Tim Barton, chairman of JMJ Development, the Dallas-based developers.

Barton likened Laguna Kai to the Rosewood-managed Las Ventanas in Los Cabos for its expected level of service and upscale amenities.

Prices for the Fairmont Mayakoba and Laguna Kai have not yet been announced.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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