Why one developer chose Forsyth County as the home of the biggest spa in North America

Kimberly Bond

(Forsyth County, GA) Ready for a spa day? If you live in Forsyth County, the biggest spa in North America may soon be coming to your own backyard. An Atlanta-based startup, Passport Experiences, recently proposed a 10-acre spa and hot springs complex along Ronald Reagan Boulevard near The Collection. The development is scheduled to open in fall 2023.

Plans for the concept, Passport Springs and Spa, show over 150,000 square feet of outdoor space, plus another 40,000 square feet of enclosed areas. It will be divided into four pavilions with themes based on exotic international destinations: Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, and Israel. Each pavilion will have landscaping, buildings, and culinary offerings inspired by these locations.

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Proposed plans for Passport Springs and Spa(Photo/Voelker Gray Design)

The CEO of Passport Experiences, Jacob Bloch, shared that his team had visited hot springs all over the world when creating their plans. The Israel pavilion was inspired by his own experience hiking in the Masada in the Judean Desert and soaking in the Dead Sea.

“I wanted to make that experience accessible to people all over the world. We are going to have the largest Dead Sea pool in the world outside of the Dead Sea itself,” Bloch shared.

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The Dead Sea in Israel is the inspiration for one pavilion(Photo/Passport Experiences)

Passport Springs & Spa will offer a combination of wellness and social opportunities including an array of luxury spa treatments and services, dining options including a rooftop restaurant, outdoor spaces to explore, and private cabanas and villas for special events.

Passport Experiences chose Forsyth County because of its location and strong population growth. Forsyth County has grown faster than any other metro Atlanta county in the past decade with a population increase of 43% from 2010-to 2020. But Bloch said that wasn’t all that influenced his decision.

“Forsyth County wasn’t chosen just based on census data,” Bloch said. “It also has a vibrant culture and people who will embrace a dynamic and upscale venture like Passport Springs & Spa.”

When complete, Passport Springs & Spa will be unlike anything available in the region with over 25 thermal mineral pools and a central pool linking each hot spring pavilion together. Another centerpiece will be the Grotto, a cave network with snow, steam, sauna, and salt rooms.

Local resident Amber Cecil Kuhn says she is “beyond excited,” about the proposed development. “This will take Mom’s Day Out to a whole new level,” Kuhn said.

Passport Experiences has already submitted a plan to Forsyth County. A vote on the plan may come as early as this summer. Award-winning Voelker Gray Design, an architecture company known for their Glen Ivy Hot Springs project in California and the Cabo Azul Resort in Mexico, is already on board. The civil engineer is Kimley-Horn, a firm that has already made a mark on the Atlanta area with the Battery, Avalon, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Porsche Experience Center.

Bloch spoke highly of Forsyth County officials, saying it has been a pleasure to work with them. “We’re on the same page,” he said.

Slade Gulledge, the Vice President of Economic Development for the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, also had optimistic words for the project. "Passport Springs is a very innovative, ambitious, and exciting project. We are thrilled Forsyth County has been chosen for their flagship location and look forward to continuing our work with their development team in the coming months."

Mr. Gulledge also noted that the new development could help attract other beneficial projects to the county. "Projects such as these not only increase the quality of life for our residents but serve as investments in Forsyth County’s growing tourism product. Passport Springs will not only be an asset for attracting visitors, but it aligns itself for the future of tourism that we are building in the area and the kind of properties we aim to attract," Mr. Gulledge shared.

If all proceeds as planned, the new development is estimated to bring around 150 job opportunities and millions of dollars in economic output to the county. As a unique luxury experience, it could also become a major tourist destination attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Are you excited about the new businesses coming to Forsyth County? Comment below or contact Kimberly Bond at kbondwriter@gmail.com to let us know.

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I'm a writer, editor, and journalist with a background in law and science. I love writing about interesting local places and events in Forsyth County, especially new businesses or family-friendly experiences.

Cumming, GA
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