The 10 best new resort developments in the world

The Sunday Times
Jul 07, 2019

There’s more to the latest resorts than fly and flop — from an urban orchard on the Costa del Sol to a biodynamic farm in the Caribbean

Resorts used to be last-minute compromise sort of places, where you could buy a villa and share a communal pool. These days, a new word for them is needed — one that isn’t burdened with images of 1970s Torremolinos.

The best new resort developments know precisely what holiday-home buyers want: from a hotel concierge to allotments, spa treatments and nutrition experts, even mushroom huts. Here’s our pick of the bunch.

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Best for art aficionados

The medieval hilltop village of St-Paul-de-Vence, on the French Riviera, has long been a creative haven, seducing Picasso, Chagall, Jean-Paul Sartre and Bill Wyman. Soon you will be able to invest in your own artistic retreat: the Toile Blanche boutique hotel, a restored 300-year-old farmhouse packed with paintings and sculptures collected by its owners, is adding an extension. The 20 fully furnished, freehold studios and one-bedroom residences should be ready in May 2021, with prices starting at €346,000 (£310,000). All will have a built-in kitchen with a minibar; some will have a private plunge pool.

Owners must put their residence in the hotel rental pool when they’re not there, but there are various options, including up to 3.8% net guaranteed yield with eight weeks’ personal use.


Best for fit retirees

Mijas Costa, on the Costa del Sol, is a popular spot for Brits seeking a sunny retirement in Spain. Those who also want to keep in shape should eye up Vitta Nature, a complex of 166 flats with two to four bedrooms, priced at €245,000-€600,000. Facilities include heated outdoor pools, a running track, padel tennis courts and — a first for a new development in this area — an urban orchard where the residents can grow their own veg. There is also a wellness centre with an indoor pool, a hammam, a sauna and a gym.

The low-rise, minimalist flats have huge terraces overlooking the coast; it’s a 15-minute walk to the beach. Construction is under way and completion is due in early 2021.


Best for city slickers

West Chelsea, around the visionary High Line, is the hottest address in Manhattan these days. The compact, once gritty industrial area has become a hub for artists (it’s now home to more than 300 galleries) and starchitects: this is one of the densest areas of luxury residential development in the world.

Among the new NY landmarks along a strip known locally as “Architecture Row” are the two twisting towers of the XI (as in 11th Avenue). Rising between the Hudson River and the High Line, they will combine 236 luxury pads with the Six Senses hotel group’s first US venture. Residents will be part of the XI Club, with access to the wellness, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle facilities. Prices start at $2.8m (£2.23m).


Best for nature lovers

Beekeeping, nature walks and astronomy are among the attractions on offer for owners at Ombria, a new rural resort in a sprawling green valley near the pretty Algarve market town of Loule. Its ethos is “carved by nature” — so, although there will be some sleek and swanky modern villas, only a small part of the 370-acre site will be built on, leaving most of it wild.

There will be 381 homes in all, including 65 residences branded as part of Europe’s first Viceroy hotel and a range of flats, townhouses and villas priced between €300,000 and €4m. The properties have a “bioclimatic” design, which means they use the Portuguese climate to their advantage, incorporating solar and geothermal energy. Activities here include 4x4 safaris, wine-tasting tours, hot-air balloon rides, riding and all manner of watersports on the coast, less than half an hour away by car.


Best for families

Within a 20-minute drive of the ancient medina of Marrakesh, Morocco, is the Fairmont Royal Palm resort, set in 550 acres of greenery — including a golf course designed by Cabell Robinson — against a backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. The resort has been up and running since 2014: there’s a five-star hotel with flower-fringed pools, restaurants, a kids’ club, a sports centre and a spa. The new element is the swanky golf-front villas, which have access to the hotel’s facilities and rental management service. Off-plan prices start at €620,000 for a three- or four-bedroom “loft-style” Ocre villa, rising to €1.5-€3.5m for a three- to five-bedroom Oliveraie villa near the hotel, or €4m-plus for a bespoke Atlas property on a 2½-acre plot.


Best for eco luxury

Six Senses Kaplankaya is a behemoth of a resort on the Bodrum peninsula, in Turkey. It’s 2½ times bigger than Monaco (where its developer, Burak Oymen, lives with his wife, a former Victoria’s Secret model), and set along almost four miles of coastline, with six private beaches. It’s home to the first Six Senses in the Med, and by next summer will have a 256-berth marina designed by Sir Norman Foster. Its luxury villas are designed by the architect Carlos Ferrater, of the Barcelona studio OAB, and cost €1.345m-€5m for three to seven bedrooms.

It’s not all about bling, though. A “plastic-free” resort, Kaplankaya is big on wellness, nature and conservation, too. As well as mushroom huts, a free-range chicken farm and on-site allotments, it’s home to a regular harvest festival.


Best for culture vultures

Almost within earshot of Sydney Opera House, One Barangaroo is a glistening corkscrew of a building that’s set to become a new city landmark. It’s also the first “fully integrated branded residences scheme” in Australia, with a six-star Crown hotel topped by 82 two- to six-bedroom flats on the 32nd to 65th floors, each with a distinct floorplan, view and fixtures and fittings. Prices start at Aus$9.5m (£5.3m), and the billionaire James Packer has notched up the record amount paid for an off-plan property in the country, snaring two floors for $60m.

Previously a disused container port on the edge of the Central Business District, Barangaroo has been revitalised as a waterfront playground. Highlights include a new ferry terminal, regular art events and craft markets, and some of the finest dining, shopping and entertainment in Sydney. “One Barangaroo is a lifestyle choice,” says Erin van Tuil, a partner at Knight Frank Australia estate agency. “It’s for people who appreciate the lifestyle that inner-city living offers, including those looking to move out of expensive-to-run family homes.”


Best for architecture buffs

The sprawling 55-year-old Sotogrande estate, in Andalusia, was ready for a revamp — and it’s doing it in style with the Seven, one of the new residential communities that form the resort’s final big development, La Reserva. On the hilly ridges of a private 25-acre enclave, with views along the coast, it’s unlike anything seen before in Sotogrande, in terms of style and cost.

Seven world-class architects, including Ben van Berkel of UNStudio and Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27, each designed one property on its own 2½-acre plot: one villa is Balinese in flavour, another reminiscent of Palm Springs desert modernism, mixed with Scandi minimalism; others are variously futuristic and ultra-luxurious, designed to emerge seamlessly from the olive groves. Prices range from €13m to €20m.

To create a sense of community in a resort that spans eight square miles from mountains to sea, with a motorway in between, owners can congregate at the Beach, Sotogrande’s new private inland beach resort, centred on a large, lagoon-style, sandy-bottomed swimming pool and a watersports lake.


Best for snow-loving investors

The All-Suite Resort Otztal opened last month in the dual-season resort town of Oetz, a 40-minute drive from Innsbruck airport, and may offer some of the best returns in Austria, according to Kristall Spaces, the sales arm of the project’s developer, VenturePlus. The 56 flats are in a series of modern timber-clad houses and start at a reasonable €215,000 for a one-bedder. Take out a 60% mortgage and VenturePlus claims you will see an 8% return on capital or a guaranteed 4% return on the net purchase price for the first five years.

Austria’s popularity in summer as well as winter means demand for holiday accommodation is greater than supply, so local hotels book up quickly. “As a result, privately owned holiday homes have had a steady uplift in all-year-round rental demand,” says Simon Atterbury, director of VenturePlus. He reports an increasing number of inquiries from UK buyers wanting rental returns and the chance to grab some high-altitude sunshine and fresh mountain air for themselves.


Best for billionaires

Touted as the most luxurious resort in the Caribbean — one that will set “a new paradigm in ultra-luxury”, according to its chief executive, William Anderson — Half Moon Bay is being developed on a blindingly beautiful rose-tinted arc of coral sand on the east coast of Antigua. A 20-minute drive from the yachtie hub of English Harbour, the resort covers 132 acres and will include a five-star Rosewood hotel, due to open in 2021, and 44 branded residences designed by Studio Piet Boon. There will also be 10 trophy properties built on beachfront plots, with land-only price tags running from $10m to $25m for the three-acre private peninsula that once belonged to the Mellon family. That “will truly be one of the greatest houses in the world”, says Anderson, who estimates that whoever snaps it up will need a further $5m-$7m to build their villa.

Facilities will include the expected five-star pampering and perks — sports and spas, experiences — while a “funky West Indies cocktail bar” on the rocks will provide a social hub. Less traditionally, the resort will be the first in the world with a biodynamic farm where the planting methods are based on astrology. Starry stuff indeed.


At your service: best of the rest

Algarve: The cool luxury branch of the Marriott hotel empire has chosen a 60-acre beachfront site near Albufeira, pictured above, for its first European branded residences. Due for completion in 2020, the 95 one- to four-bedders start at €425,000; owners will be able to use the pools, bars and restaurants, as well as signature services such as the “whatever, whenever” concierge.

Ritz-Carlton Residences: At the Jnan Amar polo estate, 20 minutes from central Marrakesh, 22 Berber-inspired villas with three to five bedrooms should be ready in late 2020; prices run from €1.3m to €2.7m. The hotel will open fully a few months later, with the next phase 30%-50% more expensive.

The Edge: Designed by Rafael de la Hoz, this modern beachfront development near Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, is under construction. Its five low-rise residential blocks arch like a question mark around communal lawns and pools, just yards from the sea. Two- to four-bedroom flats run from €621,000 to €1.821m.

Abama: A rare pocket of luxury in the arid landscape of Tenerife, this five-star resort’s large, ultramodern Casas del Lago villas — with glazed walls that open up to private pools set in a green oasis — are among the most expensive properties on the island, with prices starting at €1.035m for three bedrooms. They’re set on an elevated plot with views across the Atlantic to the neighbouring island of La Gomera.