You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

This $250 million, 400-acre surf resort in California desert is on track for 2021 start

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 12/7/2020 David Caraccio, The Sacramento Bee

A humongous wave is on the horizon in Southern California.

A 400-acre, $250 million surf resort remains on track to break ground in the desert near Palm Springs in 2021, according to the developers and representatives of the massive project.

Plans for the project were first unveiled in February 2020.

The Kelly Slater Surf Resort will rise in the serene desert landscape of La Quinta, at the base of Coral Mountain and near the popular Coachella Valley Music Festival area. Developers hope to lure young adventure travelers and surfers to an area full of golf courses.

“The ethos of this community revolves around the raw natural setting with a focus on sustainability,” according to a news release.

The land was previously approved for 750 homes and an 18-hole golf course, but is now owned by Meriwether Companies and Big Sky Wave Developments. The new project removes the golf course to make way for an 18-million-gallon wave pool that will utilize wave-making technology for pro and casual surfers alike to enjoy. Developers say the pool will use less water than a golf course.

The wave basin is large enough for 25 surfers at a time, with five on the main wave, and 10 on smaller waves, according to Surfer Today.

The new resort will feature a 150-room luxury hotel and 600 private residences, ranging in price from $1 million to $5 million each, across the 400 acres. Sales launch in 2021, as well.

“Despite the coronavirus, the project continues to go through the entitlements and approvals process, and we don’t anticipate major delays to the construction start or its completion target in 2023,” Garrett Simon, a partner in the real estate and development firm Meriweather Companies, said in an email reply to the Sacramento Bee.

“Based on consumer lifestyle changes brought forward by the pandemic and heightened interest in the Coachella Valley, we’re more convicted than ever by the mission and vision of Coral Mountain,” Simon said.

Kelly Slater is a renown professional surfer. His Kelly Slater Wave Company has combined cutting-edge science and engineering to create “the largest, rideable open-barrel, human-made wave in the world,” according to a news release.

The man-made wave will be used in elite surfing competitions, but the technology provides breakers for all levels of ability and preferences, according to the developers.

Simon envisions the ideal homeowner in the new resort community to be someone focused on an active lifestyle with a passion for surfing and other adventure sports.

“We envision this as a gathering place for like-minded multi-generational families, couples and individuals,” he said. “Our central location in La Quinta lends itself to easy access from people all over the state with great accessibility from drive markets and direct flights into Palm Springs International Airport.”

Meanwhile, visitors to the resort are likely people wanting something other than a “typical sit-at-the-pool type of vacation,” Simon said.

“We expect the resort to be in high demand for the surf-loving, adventure sports and wellness-focused crowd in Southern California,” Simon added. “We’re excited to create something radically different in an area that is dominated by golf courses. Coral Mountain will appeal to a range of people at all athletic levels who are looking to get outside of their comfort zones and define themselves through lived and learned experiences.”

Simon is teaming up with Michael Schwab, founder of Big Sky Wave Developments. Schwab is the son of investing pioneer Charles R. Schwab, who was born in Sacramento and became the leader in discount brokering.

Michael Schwab shared his inspiration for the ambitious project.

“I have been investing in early-stage tech companies since I was 22 years old,” he said in an email. “While I learned to surf growing up in the Bay Area, my real passion for surfing developed in my 30s and I began interacting with entrepreneurs developing surf technologies. In 2012, my father encouraged me to invest in things that I was passionate about, which included surfing. That came as a bit of a shock to me coming from my 75-year-old father.”

That’s how he met Slater, who eventually asked him to invest in the Kelly Slater Wave Company.

“As soon as we completed our prototype machine in Lemoore (California) in late 2015 called the Surf Ranch, I quickly raised my hand and said I wanted to build a community with a wave basin, instead of just another golf course community,” Michael Schwab said. “The concept now has evolved into a sports and wellness community with a big concentration in adventure sports and progression for all levels.”

Michael Schwab grew up Woodland. His father and uncle, an early investor from Sacramento, built their first office in the Capitol City.

The development will also offer other attractions, such as:

A bike park with pump tracks for skateboarding, BMX and mountain bikes;

A skateboarding street course;

Lakes for e-foiling and stand-up paddleboarding;

A full spa and fitness center;

Farm-to-table dining with food grown on property;

Rock climbing and sport courts;

Kids camps;

Indoor golf simulation bays.

Michael Schwab said he recently got his 82-year-old dad on a board at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

“I took my whole family up there and taught them all how to surf,” he told The Bee. “At the time, my dad was 82 years old and I got him on a large board, on his belly, with a surf coach on the back controlling it, and he caught four waves. The next night, he called me and said, ‘Michael, If I had gotten two more waves, I think I would have stood up!’ I was shocked and so stoked he loved it.”

Slater told Forbes magazine: “We’re excited to make another (Kelly Slater Wave Company) design, and I’m personally excited to create a new wave that will be a stand-alone design that nowhere else in the world has. This can become the blueprint for new developments around waves and surf parks going forward and is in line with some of my original ideas from when we started this project.”


©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


More From Sacramento Bee

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon