Forsyth County residents hear new details about largest spa in North America

Kimberly Bond

(Forsyth County, GA) Forsyth County residents are getting a new look at the proposed mega spa to be built at exit 13 off Georgia 400.

On May 17, team members representing Passport Experiences and County officials held a public participation meeting at the Old Atlanta Road Recreation Center about the Passport Springs & Spa project. Advertised as the largest spa in North America, the project will be developed on Ronald Reagan Boulevard adjacent to The Collection.

Zoning attorney Ethan Underwood opened the meeting and discussed various conditional use permits and variances required by the project’s unique landscaping needs. During this discussion, the CEO of Passport Experiences, Jacob Bloch, revealed the first public glimpse of the development’s planned exterior.

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New renderings show the proposed exterior of the project.(Photo/Passport Experiences)

As the rendering shows, Passport Springs & Spa will be integrated into The Collection. The outward-facing architecture of the project will relate to the design themes already in place there for a harmonious appearance.

Once inside, however, visitors will feel like they have stepped into another world. There will be four pavilions each representing an exotic global travel hotspot: Israel, Japan, Costa Rica, and Rome. All four pavilions will have enclosed, partially enclosed, and shaded areas with landscaping, spa experiences, and food and beverage options tailored to those locations. The Passport Pool, an oversized enclosed pool with glass walls, will connect all four pavilions.

Mr. Bloch provided an overview of some of the features planned for each pavilion. Guests will enter the Israel pavilion through a Jerusalem walkway, visit a replica of the Dead Sea and its mud baths, and enjoy Middle Eastern foods like falafel and shawarma. The Japanese pavilion will feature colorful hanging lanterns, a sake bar, covered pools and pagodas, and experiences like steaming sand massage. In the Rome pavilion, guests can relax in the courtyard or covered porticos or explore a replica of the Pantheon and salt caves. The Arenal-inspired Costa Rica pavilion will have a greenhouse to show off tropical plants, waterfalls, a bar with stone seating, and The Grotto, a cave network of saunas, steam rooms, snow rooms, and a salt cave.

There will also be a traditional spa facility with private treatment rooms and a secure locker area where guests can keep their belongings. Other features of the project include a rooftop bistro, lazy river, and multiple food and beverage stations that will offer upscale, elevated fusion cuisine.

Design experts Todd Voelker and John Gray of Voelker Gray Designs were on hand to answer residents’ questions. Well-known for their work on the Glen Ivy Hot Springs in California and Cabo Azul in Mexico, Mr. Voelker and Mr. Gray addressed the unique challenges of designing a hot springs project for the Georgia climate.

“We can design the facility so that there are comfortable spaces,” regardless of the weather, said Mr. Voelker. They also shared details about some of the unique elements of Passport Springs like smart lighting designed to mimic circadian rhythms throughout the day.

After the presentations, residents had a chance to ask questions. In response, Mr. Bloch shared that the facility will permit approximately 600 guests at a time. Most of the facility is envisioned for adult use only, though there may be opportunities for children to visit on certain occasions.

Guests will receive a wristband at check-in that provides access to all areas of the facility, though there will be supplemental fees for specific experiences. Day passes, membership and club options will be offered, but pricing information is not yet available.

When pressed about why Passport Experiences chose this particular location, Mr. Bloch pointed out the ease of access to major highways, the ability to join the facility to The Collection, and the hotels within walking distance. He also repeatedly mentioned that Forsyth County is “the most beautiful county” and that the people here “shared his vision.” The project will be self-managed because his team wants to be a part of the community long-term.

When asked about the project’s budget, Mr. Bloch said that he didn’t yet know the project's total cost and that the team was guided by creating “elevated” experiences, not a set spending limit. His team also said that sources of capital for the project are proprietary information and will be kept private for now. Mr. Bloch did reveal, however, that he has already been contacted by groups around the country for large bookings, though they are not yet accepting reservations.

The team also discussed the project’s projected economic impact on the county. Their report estimates that there will be an annual $69 million economic output, not counting property and sales tax revenues. The venue plans to employ several hundred people and is interested in hiring local talent.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall. Passport Springs Spa is expected to open in fall 2023. The next public meeting will be a hearing on June 21. The location has not yet been announced.

What questions do you have about the Passport Springs & Spa project? Comment below or email me at kbondwriter@gmail.com.

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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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