Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to provide further detail on partners and developers on the project and an updated anticipated opening year for the Punta Cana location.
Experience design and production studio Storyland Studios has been selected to master plan and design the Sports Illustrated Hotels and Resorts, which are set to begin rolling out worldwide as early as this year.
These new destinations will feature a variety of attractions for visitors and sports enthusiasts of all ages. Storyland’s team will work closely with Experiential Ventures Hospitality team to create the overall experience. “Storyland has helped us transform Sports Illustrated into an immersive, interactive experience that will be a destination unto itself,” said Chris Schroeder, CEO of Experiential Ventures Hospitality and Sports Illustrated Resorts.
“Storyland is thrilled to begin the design and master planning processes for the global family of Sports Illustrated resorts,” said Ben Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Clients at Storyland Studios. “Our incredibly talented and diverse team of artists and artisans is well-equipped to deliver unforgettable experiences for guests of all ages and backgrounds.”
Since 1954, Sports Illustrated has been a trusted and impactful media outlet in sports. The publication’s storytelling, in-depth journalism and photography have made it a centerpiece of American sports culture for over six decades.
“To appear in Sports Illustrated is one of the greatest and most recognizable honors in popular culture,” says Matt Ferguson, Chief Innovation Officer at Storyland Studios. “It’s truly one of the most coveted pieces of real estate in sports media.”
The organization’s annual reach of more than 70 million consumers uniquely positions it to expand its offerings beyond publications and multimedia into real-life experiences.
Leading the design effort is master planner and Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Storyland Studios, Mel McGowan, AICP, DBIA, LEED AP. McGowan spent a decade with the Walt Disney Company, where he was involved in a variety of master planning and design roles.
“We’re honored to be a part of bringing our team’s concepts for this resort to life,” McGowan said. “Sports Illustrated is known worldwide for its enduring influence in the sports world. Transforming the brand from page to themed environment, then inviting sports enthusiasts, families and adults of all ages to immerse themselves in that space, is going to be an incredibly exciting journey.”
The Orlando project, one of multiple Sports Illustrated Resorts in the works, will feature active, participatory visitor attractions, dining, lifestyle and wellness experiences, and celebrating some of the most iconic moments and athletes in sports history. Visitors who prefer direct, high-energy participation in attractions will thrive in the space.
Experiential Ventures Hospitality, LLC and ADMI Inc. are leading the development and expansion of Sports Illustrated Resorts and aim to develop and launch a number of premium Sports Illustrated Resort destinations within multiple genres, including upscale tropical resorts, iconic university towns, adjacent to high-traffic sports complexes, adventure-eco travel locations as well as leading leisure destinations like Orlando.
The first Sports Illustrated resort location is anticipated to be in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with an expected unveiling date in 2022. The Orlando resort will follow. Other possible locations in the United States and Hawaii are under consideration.