As the future Evermore Orlando Resort slated for 1,100 acres near Walt Disney World inches closer to its summer 2023 grand opening, the expansive 433-room Conrad Hotel anchoring the property is already taking shape and space has been cleared — enough to hold 17 million gallons of water — for the vacation destination’s tropical centerpiece: its Crystal Lagoon.
With recent approval from the Orange County development review committee, the projected $1 billion project, which will also include vacation homes with as many as 11 bedrooms and 2-to-4 bedroom villas, has gone through all of the procedural steps needed to become a reality.
Ahead of that approval the lead developer, Dart Interests, and its engineering team unfurled more detailed plans about the resort’s layout and amenities, including a “one-of-a-kind” nearly 40-foot tall torch structure.
A site plan drafted by Orlando-based engineering firm Evans Engineering Inc shows the four-story, Conrad Hotel, Orlando’s first, at the northernmost edge of the property line. It forms an L-shape overlooking Evermore Bay, a 20-acre beach complex that surrounds eight acres of turquoise blue water made using technology by Miami-based company Crystal Lagoons.
The company has offices in five continents with a portfolio of over 2,000 patents in 190 countries around the world, its website says. Currently, there are 222 projects in different stages of development and negotiations and Florida is one of the U.S. states where the company first began its meteoric rise. Among the 51 projects in Florida are Epperson, Evermore, Sole Mia, Southshore Bay, Mirada, Aqua, Emerald Lakes, Ridgewood, Lake Susy, Tamiamiami and Haines City, among others.
Pace views the Crystal Lagoon product as “the heart” of the Evermore Orlando Resort.
“It is an integral part of the Evermore experience as it provides an expansive background for activities that allow our guests to connect and make memories with their families outside of the theme parks,” Pace said. “We envision it as a setting where multiple generations of a family can enjoy a relaxing smores roast around a fire pit on the sand, a beach day full of sun and lounging or a calm, scenic sunset cocktail– it will feel like an organic part of the Evermore experience and a welcome contrast to highly charged theme park experience that so many Orlando guests come to enjoy.”
Sprinkled throughout Evermore Bay’s tropical aesthetic, among Palm trees and white sandy beaches, there will be 10 one-story cabanas of 120 square-foot apiece, a one-story 202-square-foot bar and 120-square-foot service bar.
A two-story, 8,448 square-foot boathouse — a venue for weddings and private events — will offer scenic views of the property from the southern tip of the lagoon, facing the hotel.
A pool with a water slide will go in along the lagoon, to the west of the boathouse. Water slide and pool renderings are not yet available. There are also plans for a rope swing.
The west side of the bay will also feature a 38.6-foot tall aluminum torch structure that will emit flames near the top and cooling mist from the ground onto passersby.
“This one-of-a-kind beacon will serve as an iconic landmark within Evermore,” Pace said. “We’ve got an amazing team of designers engaged to create just the right mood for our guests to enjoy a perfect evening during their stay.
The Evermore Bay area will also include eight bathrooms, 600 square-foot apiece, according to site plans.
A collection of villas, flats and luxury vacation homes will occupy the property east of the lagoon. The villas and flats will range from 2 to 4 bedrooms. The vacation homes, ranging from five bedrooms to 11, will be owned and maintained by the resort.
The fact that the resort owns the vacation homes, as opposed to individuals who lease them out via Airbnb or VRBO, sets it apart from other similar resort concepts, project leaders say.
It’s like an Airbnb, but with hotel quality service, Pace said.
“As a resort owned and resort managed collection of hotels, villas and vacation rental homes, we’ll offer the quality, service, dependability and amenities of a high-end resort without the concerns associated with renting a home from an individual,” he said.
About 1,500 bedrooms will come online as part of Evermore’s first phase, slated to be complete summer of 2023. A breakdown of earlier plans estimate the developer will deliver 69 houses, 76 four-bedroom flats; and 41 two- and four-bedroom villas.
At full buildout, the resort will comprise roughly 10,000 rooms and will represent an equity investment “in excess of $1 billion,” according to the developer
To the west side of the Evermore property, developers have plans for an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. A food hall, gourmet market and casual restaurant will overlook the golf course and bay. There will also be space for food trucks.
Located along Winter Garden Vineland Road in Orlando’s tourism district, the site sits directly north of Disney Springs, east of Walt Disney World Resort and directly west of SeaWorld Orlando.
The property was once home to the Villas of Grand Cypress Resort and its 45-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. It had been open for 32 years.
But shortly after Dallas-based Dart Interests acquired a majority of the property in 2012, they announced it would begin suspending sales of all future reservations and soon began laying the groundwork for its redevelopment plan, according to its website.
In its announcement, the resort said the closing was “great news for future guests” and that “the (redevelopment) project will take more than two years to complete.”
Site plans list EDSA as the project’s landscape architect, Breedlove, Dennis & Associates as its environmental contractor and Yovaish Engineering Services as the geometrical engineer.
Dart Interests is a national real estate investment and development firm with over $1 billion in assets in markets including New York, California, Florida, South Carolina and Texas.
“Evermore is the first-of-its-kind resort to centrally own and operate this many vacation homes in a resort community,” Pace said. “Every element from our accommodations, amenities and location will serve to create a unique experience for our guests. We see ourselves as offering something for everyone – from a luxury hotel room to an 11-bedroom house with everything in between.”