The pandemic is not dampening enthusiasm for Crystal Lagoons. In fact, the Crystal Lagoons company says it’s expanding its model for lagoons built for public access, and expects post-pandemic demand to rise. It says people will want to enjoy a vacation-like atmosphere without going on a plane. (1) At Real Wealth, we are looking forward to the 2020 opening of a lagoon connected with one of our developments in Florida.
We’ve been excited about Crystal Lagoons since they were first introduced several years ago as a way to create a tropical beach paradise of any size on just about any piece of property in the world. They change the real estate concept of location, location, location to “wherever you want to build,” because these lagoons create a location.
When the pandemic hit, lagoons that were already in operation were forced to shut down, like everything else. That includes one of the earliest U.S. Crystal Lagoons at the Epperson community near Tampa. But when the COVID restrictions were lifted, the company says large numbers of people returned. Ivan Manzur of the Crystal Lagoons U.S. Corporation told Builder magazine that lagoons previously closed because of the virus, are now starting to operate normally. (2)
Public Access Lagoons or PALs
The Epperson lagoon was built as part of a private master-planned community, and was only open to the public on a limited basis at first. It was so popular, that the lagoon quickly converted to the Public Access Lagoon or PAL model of operation. Manzur says, “People started going to the beach, and the outcome has been so remarkable that the development has often had to close the doors to control the flow of visitors.”
The company is now expanding on the PAL model, and negotiating deals for Public Access Lagoons at other kinds of entertainment venues. The company website lists about a dozen venues including amusement parks, public parks, zoos and casinos. The company says that Crystal Lagoons may also help save some floundering malls, or provide an income-producing venue for the infield of a racetrack. The technology is also being used to build giant “surf parks” many miles from the ocean. And while some are being added to golf courses, other Crystal Lagoons are actually replacing the golf course.
From Golf Course to Crystal Lagoon
That’s what happened to a residential development in Florida called the Mirada, which is partially funded by Real Wealth investors. It was initially approved for a golf course, but our team thought that consumers might be ready for something different. That’s when we partnered with Metro Development Group to build one of these magnificent man-made lakes, and we’re now on track to celebrate the opening of that lagoon sometime this year.
Popularity Among Investors
Whether it’s a PAL, or a private or semi-private Crystal lagoon, Manzur says the concept is popular with investors. He told Builder that the company’s business plan is projecting the construction of 1,000 Crystal Lagoons in just the U.S. And many of them are already underway. The website has a list of more than 250 projects that are in some stage of development. Most are in the U.S. but they are also being built in many other countries.
Manzur doesn’t feel that the pandemic has had much of an effect on the projects because they take a minimum of a year-and-a-half to build. He told Builder that, “Commercial activity has been maintained throughout this crisis.” In fact, he says the market for Crystal Lagoons is expanding rapidly. He says the company is “registering the highest sales in its history, and is dynamically closing contracts.”
The New Normal
He says the pandemic may be contributing to that demand because consumer preferences are changing when it comes to recreation and travel. He told Builder, “Even if (the virus) is controlled in the future, the pandemic may change certain social habits, such as avoiding plane trips to distant locations due to risks associated with large groups of people boarding planes, at airports, confinement in planes, coming into contact with people from other countries where infection rates are possibly unpredictable.”
Manzur believes the pandemic is creating a “new normal” when it comes to satisfying a need for adventure, and that Crystal Lagoons provide a way to vacation without traveling far from home. They may even be as close as the nearest mall. Manzur says the company foresees “a great future reconverting these shopping centers” and is in advanced negotiations with some mall operators.
Of that long list of projects in development, 176 are in the U.S. One of those projects is the 15-acre Mirada project in Wesley Chapel that I mentioned before. And yes, that’s the size of the lagoon — 15 acres. The lagoon is scheduled to open as both an amenity for residents, and for public access.
The largest lagoon being developed in the U.S. will be a 34-acre lagoon in Rancho Mirage, California. That’s expected to open in 2022 for residents and hospitality guests.