Muslim Friendly Resort Planned Near Disney World Orlando

A Canadian real estate developer that is building the first Muslim family-friendly resort in the Dominican Republic has a purchase contract for a 217-acre parcel in Osceola County near Disney World in Orlando, Florida and plans a similar 5-star resort.

The Everest Group met with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee for a pre-application meeting to discuss the latest master plan for the resort with a working title of “Golden Lagoon.”

The project budget is around $500 million. The first phase would begin on the northern end of the property and would include a mix of multi-story retail buildings, restaurants, and the first of several luxury hotels.

Everest CEO Zafir Rashid formed an Orlando-based affiliate company, GMR Development Orlando Inc., for the project, which will be its first in the United States. In Canada, the company specializes in multi-family real estate, student residences, commercial/retail mixed-use communities, and hospitality properties.

The master plan and mood board indicate the project would replicate some of the features of Everest Group’s Grand Medina Resort just north of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. An earlier site plan provided to Osceola County continued the Grand Medina branding.

David Portwood, president of Davenport Consulting Group, who is working with Everest Group on the project’s conceptual planning and due diligence said a Grand Medina-style resort here in Orlando would open the door to a global tourist demographic that isn’t well served by the local market.

“It’s an exciting project,” Portwood told Osceola County’s Development Review Committee. “We find that this is a niche, in a sense, and we’re blessed to bring it to the county. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Davenport Consulting is the architect of record and is working in collaboration with Spanish firm, Arquiestudio, which is also designing the Caribbean resort and has completed luxury resorts in Egypt and the Canary Islands.

The resort itself would be gated with a 4-lane spine road on the eastern boundary linking U.S. 192 to Funie Steed Road. The entire resort would be hugged by a massive man-made lagoon. It calls for multiple hotel and timeshare towers, a full service spa and private water park - complete with its own wave pool, water slides and lazy river. There’s also a Women’s Club, with a separate pool and waterfront cabanas, just like the Grand Medina Resort.

Portwood said the resort would provide water-taxi service on the lagoon for guests. Some areas of the development are designed as a series of connected islands.

“The lagoon serves two functions,” Portwood said. “It’s stormwater retention and also compensating storage (for the floodplain).”

The Golden Lagoon resort will be located just across the toll road from Margaritaville, a $750 million resort that opened in late 2018.