Mark Foster Gage designs “secret garden” spa resort for Neom

Saudi mega project Neom has revealed the design of the Elanan spa and hotel that is set to be built on a natural oasis on Gulf of Aqaba as its latest development.

Designed by American studio Mark Foster Gage Architects, the Elanan resort will contain 80 rooms and suites along with well-being facilities.

It will be built on a natural oasis that is fed by natural springs and is intended to feel like being in a “secret garden”.

Neom spa by Mark Foster Gage ArchitectsNeom spa by Mark Foster Gage Architects
The Elanan spa will be designed by Mark Foster Gage Architects

“Elanan is a resort in the Gulf of Aqaba that is nestled in a beautiful and natural environment, almost like a kind of secret garden,” said Mark Foster Gage Architects founder Mark Foster Gage.

“You see it’s this cube popping up from the treetops. And you’re like, what is this incredible place. And once you step through that doorway you’re in another world,” he continued.

“Architecture and nature come together and form something that is more beautiful than either of them would have been independently.”

Elanan in NeomElanan in Neom
It will contain 80 hotel rooms arranged around numerous pools

The resort will have hotel blocks, villas and golden observation towers arranged around numerous pools. At the centre of the resort will be two large swimming pools connected by a waterfall.

According to the studio, the resort was designed to contain a series of spaces that visitors can discover.

“As you approach Elanan you see a shimmering gold tower that is peaking behind the dunes,” said Mark Foster Gage Architects architect Bashayer Bamohsen.

“As you come closer to it the golden facade starts to reveal itself. It doesn’t reveal itself at once the visitor goes through a journey to discover various experiences.”

Neom spa resort on Gulf of AqabaNeom spa resort on Gulf of Aqaba
It was designed as a “secret garden”

Elanan is the latest hospitality development revealed by Neom that will be built on the Gulf of Aqaba coast in northeastern Saudi Arabia.

It follows Xaynor, which will be designed by Mexican studio Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos as the “ultimate members’ club” and an “exclusive sanctuary resort” designed by Dutch studio OMA.

Also planned for the coast is an “upside-down skyscraper” named Aquellum, the Leyja luxury hotel, hexagonal-pillar hotel Siranna, jagged skyscrapers Epicon, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura-designed Utamo and coastal yacthing town Norlana.

Oasis in Saudi ArabiaOasis in Saudi Arabia
It will be built on a natural spa

The projects form part of the wider Neom development, which is one of the world’s largest and most controversial developments. It will contain a 170-kilometre-long city named The Line as well as an Octagon-shaped port city designed by Danish studio BIG and a ski resort named Trojena.

The project has been criticised on human rights grounds, including by human rights organisation ALQST, which reported that three men were sentenced to death after being “forcibly evicted” from the Neom site. Last year experts from the UN Human Rights Council expressed “alarm” over the imminent executions. Saudi Arabia responded to the UN by denying abuses had taken place.

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