‘Travel’ is a word that allures most people. Travel is always associated with exploration, enlightenment, and self-discovery. Most of us adorn our yearly calendars with our travel plans for the year. The destinations are the main reason for our travels. Still, no trip is complete without the presence of a comfortable stay in our dream destinations. Often well-designed hotels and resorts in major holiday destinations become a landmark we associate with that destination. Let’s look at 15 architecture firms who have made designing these holiday accommodations into a form of art.

Here are 15 architectural firms designing resorts around the world:

1. International Place Design LLC (iPlace Design)

Location of head office: Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
Founded in: 2009

The firm is headed by Steve Garbier. The firm has a hardworking team comprising individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds. Some of the significant works of the firm are centered in China and Europe. The firm focuses on resort designing and landscape projects amongst other design works. The firm has received various accreditations and awards for their accomplishments.

The approach adopted by the firm is best understood in their own words A trademark of the iPlace Design work is its emphasis on graphic communication to document a design vision. The firm utilizes multiple in-house talents and technologies to model a site, visualize a complex program, or illustrate an essential project view”. (Source: https://www.iplacedesign.com/firm/our-beliefs/)

Some of the significant resort projects by the firm include Aphrodite Resort Community in Cyprus, Abama Resort in Spain, and TopspringTaihu Resort Community in Changzhou, China.

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Master Plan of Abama resort ©www.iplacedesign.com
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Conceptual sketch of Aphrodite Resort Community ©www.iplacedesign.com
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The firm ©www.iplacedesign.com

2. MHBC – MacNaughtonHermsen Britton Clarkson Planning Limited

Location of head office: Ontario, Canada
Founded in: 1973

The firm was founded originally by Ian MacNaughton, a planner and resource manager in 1973 in Kitchener, Ontario. Currently, it has a team of 65 members with 14 ownership partners. The firm is known for its work in the fields of Urban Planning, Resource Management, Urban Design, and Landscape Design.

The firm is acclaimed for its use of a comprehensive planning approach involving a team of multidisciplinary experts. The firm initially worked on land use development projects and eventually branched out various disciplines.

At present, they focus on the integration of cultural heritage planning into their design process. One of the major resorts planning projects by MHBC includes Horseshoe valley resort in Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

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Conceptual sketch of Horseshoe valley resort in Oro-Medonte ©www.mhbcplan.com
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The firm ©www.mhbcplan.com

3. Smallwood Architects

Location of head office: Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
Founded in: 1979

The firm is headed by teams in both Atlanta, USA, and Singapore. They boast an experience of over 40 years in the field. Their portfolio spans a wide range of design works in the areas of Architecture, Interior design, Landscape architecture, Urban planning and design, and Graphic Design. Their works have excelled in the hospitality and community development sectors.

The firm explains that their design approach focuses on linking the project’s location-based attributes, the vision of the client, and the market opportunities. “Our resort master planning concepts develop flexible solutions that adapt to conditions and various market demands, keenly aware of the importance of sustainable design in the development community’s stewardship of the land.”

(Source: https://www.smallwood-us.com/master-planning/resorts).

Their major projects include Four Seasons Emerald Bay in the Bahamas, Kamala Gateway Resort in Phuket, Thailand and Sigma Haitang Bay Resort in Haitang Bay, Sanya, China

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Sigma Haitang Bay Resort in Haitang Bay ©www.smallwood-us.com
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Kamala Gateway Resort in Phuket ©www.smallwood-us.com
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Four Seasons Emerald Bay in the Bahamas ©www.smallwood-us.com

4. Forrec

Location of head office: Toronto, Canada

The firm describes itself as an ‘entertainment design company’. The name FORREC is an acronym for ‘for recreation’. Their portfolio mainly concentrates on Theme Parks, Water Parks, Entertainment developments, and Resorts.

The firm started as a landscape design company. It has then continuously reinvented itself, expanded to other fields, and maintained a prominent presence in the designing sector for over 30 years. The firm boasts a list of famous clients that include Universal Studios, Nickelodeon, and LEGOLAND.

They have managed to combine fantasy and design seamlessly in their projects. Their vision, “…a world that works, plays, shops and lives in places that are smarter, more productive and people-centered.”  (Source: https://www.forrec.com/), aptly describe their design approach. Some of their main contributions include Longleat Resort and Water Park in the United Kingdom, Resorts World at Sentosa, Singapore, and Centara Grand Mirage in Thailand.

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Longleat Resort and Water Park aerial view sketch ©www.forrec.com
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Centara Grand Mirage in Thailand ©www.forrec.com

5. M2Leisure (M2 International Resort & Leisure Management & Consultancy B.V.)

Location of head office: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Founded in: 2010

The firm is relatively young and was established in 2010 with a team of 20 people. The company majorly focuses on the leisure development and hospitality sector. They specialize in waterpark development, resort development, and large-scale leisure facilities. They have handled major projects across the globe in these sectors. The firm is known for handling both the pecuniary and legal aspects of a project. Apart from the design, they also focus on project development, project management, and operational management of leisure facilities and resorts. (Source: https://m2leisure.com/). Their major projects include Center Parcs Resort Allgäu in Leutkirch, Germany, Eco Resort De L’ermitage in Saint Gilles les Bains, La Reunion Island, France, and Senbo Resorts in Deqing, China.

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Firm’s philosophy ©www.m2leisure.com
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Senbo Resorts in Deqing, China. – conceptual view ©www.m2leisure.com
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Center Parcs Resort Allgäu in Leutkirch – conceptual sketch ©www.m2leisure.com

6. Ankenman Marchand Architects

Location of head office: Vancouver, Canada
Founded in: 1991

The firm specializes in urban design and community development projects. The multidisciplinary team ensures the addition of sustainable building techniques and BIM in their projects. Their designs are designed with a focus on cost efficiency and sustainability. The firm also mentions that they don’t just talk the talk, but they even walk the walk. Their major projects include Development in Marmora in Ontario and development at Willow Beach in Osoyoos

It is evident in this statement by the firm about these practices incorporated into their day to day lives. “As a team, we “live this” in day-to-day office activities. For example, client presentation drawings are now printed on biodegradable foam core. Old foam core sheets are re-used wherever possible. As well, our lunchroom has food composting and our office features a specialized recycling program and bicycle storage used by staff and clients.” (Source: http://www.amarchitects.com/)

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Development at Willow Beach in Osoyoos – A design concept ©www.amarchitects.com
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Development in Marmora in Ontario – conceptual view ©www.amarchitects.com
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The team ©www.amarchitects.com

7. VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture

Location of head office: San Rafael, California (USA)
Founded in: 2001

Don Vita is the principal architect and founder of the firm. The firm is primarily a landscape design firm. The sectors they focus on include high-end residential development and the hospitality sector.

Their design approach attempts to integrate environmental sustainability and cultural influences in their projects. They use the phrase ‘Hand Crafted Communities’ as their core design philosophy (Source: https://vitainc.com/). Their designs are also client and market-centric in nature.

The major projects in their oeuvre include Four Seasons Hualalai in Kona, Hawai’i, Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Resort in Grand Cayman Island, and Capella Resort and Villas in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

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Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Resort in Grand Cayman Island – A design concept ©www.vitainc.com
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Four Seasons Hualalai in Kona, Hawai’i – masterplan ©www.vitainc.com
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The firm ©google photos by Brie McG

8. Affiniti Architects

Location of head office: Boca Raton, Florida (USA)
Founded in: 1983

The firm has been behind the design of private residences for various celebrity clients. They focus on resort planning, residential architecture, and sustainable community developments. They have received multiple accolades for their work and have been featured numerous times in infamous architecture and design magazines.

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Aerial view of Artesia Clubhouse ©www.affinitiarchitects.com
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Conceptual sketch for Salam Resort ©www.affinitiarchitects.com
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The founders of the firm ©www.affinitiarchitects.com

9. Arcmax Architect

Location of head office: Ahmedabad, Gujrat, India
Founded in: 2001

The firm is headed by Ar. Ashish Bhargava. They specialize in resort planning and design. Other categories that they work in include commercial architecture and residences. Their base is in India, and they have teams working in the USA and UK as well. They describe their approach as being socially responsible and environmentally friendly. Their design approach is aimed to be piloted by the play of natural light. They have also launched an online venture providing design consultancy services.

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Conceptual visualization for Health & Wealth Resort Design ©www.arcmaxarchitect.com
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Visualisation of Ashoka empire luxury resort ©www.arcmaxarchitect.com

10. Baca Architects

Location of head office: London, United Kingdom
Founded in: 2003

The London based firm, headed by Richard Coutts, has created a niche for itself in the field of architecture. Their specialization is in waterfront architecture and flood resilient designs. They have devised an innovative approach to ‘integrating landscape and low carbon technology’.

The team is equally active in the design as well as the research front. Their core research is on the concept of ‘Aquatecture’, i.e. water-centric design approach. They have also published various books that explain their research. Their primary areas of work include residential architecture and master planning.

They boast a wide variety of projects ranging from smart homes to smart cities. Their major works include Tyram Lakes Hotel & Spa and Tyram Floating Resort in Doncaster, UK, and Biku eco-resort in Panama islands.

(Source: https://www.baca.uk.com/)

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Conceptual visualization of Biku eco-resort ©www.baca.uk.com
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3D visualization of Tyram Lakes Hotel & Spa ©www.baca.uk.com
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publication on aquatecture ©www.baca.uk.com

11. Nikken Sekkei

Location of head office: Chiyoda, Tokyo
Founded in: 1900

The firm has been ranked as the second-largest practice. Tadao Kamei acts as the CEO and President of the firm, which began as a department under the Sumitomo corporation and grew to its present status. At present, it is a part of a group of companies that specialize in research, architecture, planning, and construction management.

The firm shows a broad diversity of their work, ranging from architectural design to civil engineering. The firm has lately changed its focus towards the design of more sustainable and resilient structures. Some of the aspects they are working with include infectious disease control through architecture, Anthropocentric design involving AI, and biophilia.

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DENSO Global Training Center “AQUAWINGS” ©www.nikken.co.jp
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Kyoto State Guest House ©www.nikken.co.jp
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The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto ©www.nikken.co.jp

12. LandRun Studio

Location of head office: Branson, Missouri (USA)
Founded in: 2000

The practice is primarily a landscape design centered one. The founder Brad Hoffman and his team show exceptional skills in the field of landscape architecture and land use development. The firms believe in creating places that can enhance the quality of life of its users. They have experience of a wide range of scales, such as small private gardens to large scale landscaping works. They have been active in the resort planning sector for a long time. The team believes that resort designs should conjure a sense of magic and fantasy in its user. Some of the prominent works in this sector include Seaside Resort in Galveston Island, Branson Cedars Resort near Branson, and Oak N’ Spruce Resort in Western Massachusetts.

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Oak N’ Spruce Resort ©www.landrunstudio.com
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Master Plan of Branson Cedars Resort ©www.landrunstudio.com
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Seaside Resort – Galveston Island, TX ©www.landrunstudio.com

13. Sasaki

Location of head office: Watertown, Massachusetts (USA)
Founded in: 1953

The firm was founded by Ar.Hideo Sasaki. His ideas laid the foundation for the unique work style and design approach adopted by the firm. They focus on a more collaborative design process. As described by the firm, “…defining the future of place must be a collective, contextual, and values-driven exercise.” (Source: https://www.sasaki.com/).

The company strives to create a participatory model wherein there is a synergy of human skills and technology. The firm adopts an interdisciplinary approach and has forayed into fields such as research, graphic design, and so on. They have worked on different collaborative projects with leading institutions around the globe. A few fascinating resort planning projects by Sasaki include Lashi Lake Resort in Lijiang, China, and Fuyuan West Resort in Haikou, Hainan Island, China

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Conceptual visualization of Fuyuan West Resort ©www.sasaki.com
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Conceptual visualization of Lashi Lake Resort in Lijiang ©www.sasaki.com
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The Sasaki office ©www.sasaki.com

14. Denniston

Location of head office: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Founded in: 1983

Denniston is the firm founded by Ar. Jean-Michel Gathy. The firm specializes in design and planning related to the luxury- hospitality sector. They have several acclaimed projects around the world. The firm’s clientele consists of some of the major corporations in the hospitality industry, such as Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Armani, and so on. Their works have been covered by a leading architectural publication time and again.

The team has often experimented with new technology and materials in their projects. Their work shows a very user-centric approach and focuses on creating a space that exudes ‘Comfort’ to its user. Some of their most famous work include Aman Bora Bora in Bora Bora islands, Fuchun Resort Hotel in Fuyang and Four Seasons – Tokyo, Japan

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Fuchun Resort Hotel ©www.denniston.com.my
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Aman Bora Bora ©www.denniston.com.my
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Denniston Cover Page Feature ©www.denniston.com.my

15. IDIN Architects

Location of head office: Bangkok, Thailand
Founded in: 2004

IDIN is short for ‘Integrating Design Into Nature’. The firm founded by Ar. JeravejHongsakul has a unique design style. Their works sync nature into the built environment quite beautifully.

Their philosophy has been described well in their words, “…The design philosophy and concentration of IDIN is to merge this sense of surrounding, the ‘natures’, to the architectural aesthetic. This merge is done through a process of analyzing and prioritizing the different needs and requirements of each project.” (Source:http://www.idin-architects.com/).

Their major works in the hospitality sector include de capoc resorts in Thailand and Tara Villa Resort in Karnchanaburi, Thailand.

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De Capoc Resort ©www.idin-architects.com
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The IDIN office ©www.idin-architects.com
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The IDIN office ©www.idin-architects.com

Namita is an architect. Her experience at COSTFORD paved her interest in the architectural philosophies of Laurie Baker. She has a passion for writing. Her mother, a preceptor in English literature instilled in her the passion for books and languages. She also loves to explore new places and wishes to be a globetrotter.