Speaking at a meeting of the Blaine Chamber of Commerce on July 2, community development director Michael Jones confirmed rumors that permits to construct a new destination spa on Semiahmoo spit have been filed at the city planning department.
The new hotel is not affiliated with the existing Semiahmoo Resort. BlueRidge Semiahmoo Point LLC, a real estate investment and development firm from southern California, filed the land use permits.
The 54-acre property has been designated as a “destination spa and wellness center.” The approximately 220,000-square-foot property will include 90,000 square feet for the hotel with up to 125 rooms and a 70,000-square-foot spa.
According to the permit application, “the portions of this resort dedicated to spa, health, wellness and fitness fundamentally differentiate it from the existing Semiahmoo Hotel and most any other spa and wellness center in the northwestern United States and British Columbia.”
Derek Jones, founder and CEO of BlueRidge, said his company is working closely with the Semiahmoo Resort, and that the new destination spa will not be competition for the resort.
“Health and wellness destinations like this are a different animal entirely,” Jones said. “The Semiahmoo Resort is designed to accommodate families and large corporate groups, while destination spa clients are usually couples or small groups.”
Jones is tentatively planning on a late 2016 to early 2017 opening date, assuming the city approves the project and the minor changes BlueRidge would like to see made to the Resort Semiahmoo master plan.
The new property will go in on the south side of the spit, in the transitional zone between the Seagrass residential area and the Semiahmoo village and common green. The resort will keep the old cannery building and the water tower in place, which Jones hopes will add a touch of local flavor to the spa.
“As a group, we’re somewhat obsessive about authenticity,” Jones said. “If we can capture the spirit of a place without it seeming forced or contrived, we’ll jump at the opportunity. The Semiahmoo area has such a rich history, and the water tower is right at the heart of that.”
While Jones was unable to give any specific details at this early stage, he mentioned that negotiations were in place to secure a well-respected operating firm to run the spa.
On average, destination spas of this size require around three employees per guest, and since the spa will require high-skilled, high-wage employees like medical doctors, resident nurses, physical trainers and dietitians, Jones hopes the proposed business will be a job creator for the area.
BlueRidge is requesting that residential development be scaled back on the spit. Presently, the area is zoned for approximately 280 residential areas. Jones would like to see that number pared down to around 160, and have the remaining land reallocated to the hotel.