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Written by Elma Steven | Updated on March, 2024

How to Start a Resort Business?

How to Start a Resort Business?

Detailed step by step process to avoid guesswork and find out how to start a resort business? Go through the initial summary of each of the 5 steps- Research & Idea Validation, Legal Structure & Registration, Capital Raising, Kickstarting the Resort Business and Monitoring & Evaluation. Take a deep dive into the details to start your resort business. Don’t forget to write a comprehensive resort business plan to write down your idea on paper as it will help your validate the concept and identify gaps which might have been missed during the ideation process.

5 Important Steps to Launch a Resort 

The mentioned steps will save you at least 2 months of research as we spent more than 2 months to write this article. Check the summary of each section and later we will take a deep dive into the overall process to start your resort business.

Research and Idea Validation

Find out who your rivals are and what guests want by doing extensive market research. Find out what makes current resorts special and where the market is lacking. To make sure your resort idea may be profitable and practical, you need calculate the costs and benefits. Think about things like the target audience, the variety of facilities, and the location’s attractiveness.

Legal Structure & Registration

To handle tax and liability issues, you need decide on a suitable business form for your resort, such a corporation or limited liability company. Get everything in order legally by getting the appropriate licenses and permissions. Depending on where you are, this can include tourist permits, health and safety certificates, and environmental permissions.

Capital Raising

Explore various funding avenues, including personal savings, bank loans, or investment from partners. Create a detailed financial plan outlining initial capital required for construction, interior design, landscaping, and operational expenses. Remember to include marketing and staff training in your budget.

Kickstarting the Business

Pick a spot—be it on the beach, in the mountains, or in the middle of the city—that fits the resort’s concept and attracts the people you want to stay there. Make sure your guests are comfortable and secure by investing in high-quality construction and facilities. Pay close attention to the interior design, greenery, and amenities like restaurants, adventure activities, and spas to create an immersive experience. Take into account the number of employees required for different positions, such as management, housekeeping, guest services, and maintenance.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Keep tabs on how well your resort is doing financially. Set up a system to keep track of money, and keep an eye on things like occupancy, average daily fee, and visitor satisfaction ratings. Get visitor input and use it to make services better. If you want to be competitive and make money, you have to pay attention to what the market is doing and change your plans accordingly.

Now Lets take a Deep Dive into Each of the 5 Steps

Research and Idea Validation

Idea validation involves collection relevant information through industry analysis and creating a financial model to find out if a certain amount of investment will be enough, how long it can take to be profitable, analyzing various scenarios by playing with different cost and prices, etc. Bypass the guesswork and go through concrete planning to get the best possible results.

Market Research

Identifying Target Market

  • Demographic Research: Focus on segments such as families, couples, business travelers, and luxury seekers. For example, a resort in a scenic coastal area might attract families and honeymooners, while a resort near a business hub might cater to corporate clients.
  • Geographic Considerations: Assess different regions and their appeal. A mountain resort in Colorado will attract a different demographic than a beach resort in Florida. Consider international appeal if your location is a tourist hotspot.

Competitor Analysis

  • Service Assessment: Visit competing resorts to gauge their offerings. In regions like the Caribbean, some resorts might offer all-inclusive packages, which could be a unique selling point to consider.
  • Pricing Strategies: Evaluate the pricing of nearby resorts. In luxury destinations like Maldives, pricing might be higher due to exclusivity and unique experiences offered.

Customer Preferences and Needs

  • Surveys and Interviews: Gather information directly from potential guests about their preferences in resort amenities and activities. For instance, guests in colder climates might prefer resorts with indoor activities and spa facilities.

Feasibility Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis

Estimating Start-Up Costs

  • Location Costs: Purchasing land or leasing property in popular tourist destinations like Hawaii can be significantly higher than in less known areas. The cost can vary widely based on location and size.
  • Construction and Design Expenses: Building a resort with luxury amenities, like a spa or golf course, can range from a few million to several hundred million dollars, depending on scale and luxury level.

Operational Costs

  • Staffing: Labor costs will vary by location. In areas with higher living costs, wages will be higher. For example, staffing costs in California would be higher than in a rural area.
  • Utilities and Maintenance: Monthly costs can vary greatly based on the size of the resort and the location. In areas with extreme weather, costs for heating or cooling can be significant.

Revenue Projections

  • Service Pricing: Base your pricing on the level of luxury, location, and services offered. Resorts in exclusive locations like Bora Bora can charge premium rates.

Additional Revenue Streams: Consider additional services like special events, conferences, dining, and recreational activities, which can significantly boost revenue.

Break-Even Analysis

  • Calculating Break-Even Point: Determine all costs versus projected revenue. For example, if monthly costs are $100,000 and the average room rate is $250 per night, you would need a certain occupancy rate to break even.

Risk Assessment

  • Market Risks: Consider factors like travel trends, economic changes, or natural disasters that could impact tourism. For example, a resort in a hurricane-prone area might face seasonal risks.
  • Operational Risks: Unexpected issues like maintenance problems or service quality can affect reputation and profitability, especially in high-end resorts where expectations are higher.

This comprehensive research and validation approach will guide your decision-making for the resort business, ensuring that you understand the market dynamics, financial implications, and potential challenges and opportunities in the industry

Company registration involves choosing a business structure (e.g., LLC, corporation), selecting a compliant business name and filing necessary documents with a state agency typically the Secretary of State. This includes filing Articles of Organization or Incorporation and obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes. The process may also require securing relevant business licenses, registering for state taxes and appointing a registered agent for legal correspondence.

Establishing a resort business requires thoughtful consideration of the legal structure, which is crucial for managing liability, taxation, and overall operational efficiency. The choice of the legal entity will have enduring effects on the business’s financial and legal standing.

steps to register your resort business

Choosing the Right Legal Structure

Sole Proprietorship

Simplest form of business ownership with minimal regulatory requirements.

The owner has complete control but is personally liable for all business debts and legal actions.

Best suited for small, boutique resorts or bed and breakfast establishments, perhaps in less crowded tourist areas or unique niche markets.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Offers a blend of the ease of a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation.

Personal assets are typically safeguarded from business liabilities.

Ideal for resorts in popular tourist destinations or areas with high foot traffic, where the risk of lawsuits or significant business debts might be higher.

Taxation is flexible; can be treated as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation, offering adaptability in financial planning.

Corporations (C-Corp and S-Corp)


Treated as a separate tax entity, leading to double taxation (first on corporate profits, then on personal income from dividends).

More attractive to investors and can issue shares, facilitating capital raising.

Suitable for large-scale resort projects with substantial capital requirements and plans for expansion or franchising.


Avoids double taxation through pass-through taxation to shareholders.

Shareholder number is limited to 100, and all must be U.S. citizens or residents.

Appropriate for medium to large resorts seeking growth and investment without the burden of double taxation.

legal structure and registration for resort business


Ideal if starting a resort business with one or more partners.

Essential to have a comprehensive partnership agreement detailing roles, profit sharing, responsibilities, and conflict resolution mechanisms.

Varieties include General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships (LP), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), each offering different levels of liability and involvement in management.

Particularly suitable for multi-investor projects, such as a resort developed jointly by several entrepreneurs or businesses.

Registration Process and Compliance

Business Name Registration

Ensure your resort’s name is unique and in compliance with state-specific regulations.

Register the name with the Secretary of State or the relevant local authority in your state.

Licenses and Permits

Acquire a general business license from the local government.

Depending on the location, obtain specific hospitality or tourism-related licenses.

Ensure compliance with health and safety regulations, which is especially important for resorts with amenities like pools, spas, and restaurants.

Environmental permits may be necessary, particularly for resorts located in environmentally sensitive areas or those involving extensive land use.

Tax Registration and Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Apply for an EIN through the IRS for tax identification.

Register for state and local taxes, including any tourism or hospitality taxes that may apply to your resort.

Zoning, Land Use, and Building Compliance

Confirm that your chosen location is appropriately zoned for a resort.

Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local building codes, which may include specific requirements for accessibility and safety in guest facilities.


General Liability Insurance: Essential for protecting against accidents involving guests.

Property Insurance: Protects against damage to the resort’s buildings, equipment, and other assets.

Workers’ Compensation: Required if you have employees, covering job-related injuries or illnesses.

Banking and Financial Setup

Open a business bank account separate from personal accounts for effective financial management.

Consider establishing a business credit line or credit card to support operational liquidity and manage expenses.

Seeking Professional Assistance

  • Legal Counsel: Engage a resort-specialized business attorney for advice on legal structure, contracts, and compliance with industry-specific laws and regulations.
  • Financial Advisor or Accountant: Consult for effective tax planning, financial management, and to set up suitable accounting systems for the resort business.

By attentively managing these components, your resort business will be well-positioned legally and financially, fostering an environment conducive to growth and ensuring compliance with all necessary regulations. This foundational groundwork is essential for the successful and stable operation of a resort.

Capital Raising

In order to raise capital for your business you need to figure out certain stuff such as how much funding do you need, how will you use the funds, etc. The capital raising process will vary from business to business as the needs and requirements are different. Also make sure that you are not too much dependent on debt for your resort business.

Raising capital for a resort business involves a strategic approach to securing funds from various sources, tailored to the unique demands of the hospitality industry. Here’s a comprehensive guide to this process, including pertinent examples:

Estimating Capital Requirements

  • Initial Capital: The start-up costs for a resort are typically substantial, considering land acquisition, construction, furnishing, and setting up amenities. For instance, developing a mid-scale resort in a popular tourist area might cost upwards of $5 million, depending on the size and luxury level.
  • Operating Capital: It’s important to have funds for at least the first year of operation, covering expenses like staff salaries, utility bills, maintenance, marketing, and other operational costs, which could easily amount to several hundred thousand dollars.

Sources of Capital

  • Personal Savings: Using personal funds is a common starting point. For example, an initial $200,000 from savings could cover preliminary expenses like initial design and planning.
  • Bank Loans: Commercial loans can be sought for significant portions of the project. For instance, securing a $3 million loan for construction and development.
  • SBA Loans: These government-backed loans, like the SBA 504 loan, are designed for major fixed assets, which could be beneficial for resort construction.
  • Investor Funding: This could include angel investors, venture capitalists, or hospitality-focused investment groups. For example, offering a 25% stake in the resort for a $1 million investment.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): For larger projects, partnering with a REIT can provide substantial funding. REITs invest in real estate and might be interested in a profitable resort project.

  • Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo can be used to raise smaller amounts of capital, particularly for unique or community-focused resort concepts.

Considerations for Capital Raising

  • Debt vs. Equity Financing: Assess the implications of each. Loans require repayment regardless of business success but maintain ownership, while equity financing doesn’t require repayment but involves sharing ownership and profits.
  • Financial Projections: Develop detailed projections of revenue, occupancy rates, and operational costs. For example, forecasting to achieve a 60% occupancy rate in the first year with gradual increases.
  • Credit Score and History: A strong credit score is essential for favorable loan terms. A score above 700 is generally desirable for the best rates and terms.
  • Legal and Financial Advice: Professional guidance is crucial. A financial advisor can assist in drafting a comprehensive business plan, while legal counsel can help navigate the intricacies of contracts and investment agreements.

In summary, securing the necessary capital for a resort business requires a blend of financial resources and strategies. It’s about balancing personal investment, debt, and equity, along with exploring creative funding options like crowdfunding or REITs. A solid business plan, backed by realistic financial projections and professional advice, is key to successfully raising the needed funds.

Kickstarting the Resort Business 

Now you have completed your due diligence process before starting your winery business and feel confident to get started! The implementation phase will also require a ton of planning and initially try to invest less and get more end user feedback to make sure that you do not create something which is not going to be accepted by the market.

Launching a resort involves a series of meticulous steps, each contributing to the successful establishment of the business. Here’s a detailed guide enriched with examples:

Location Selection

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  • Site Analysis: Choose a location with natural appeal or near tourist attractions. For example, a beachfront in Florida or a scenic mountain area in Colorado. Proximity to airports or major transport links is also beneficial.
  • Lease or Purchase Negotiations: If not purchasing land, negotiate favorable terms for a lease. For instance, a long-term lease with options for renewal can provide stability.
  • Accessibility and Visibility: Ensure the location is easily accessible for guests, with good signage and possibly shuttle services from major transport hubs.

Design and Construction

  • Planning and Design: Engage architects and designers who specialize in resorts. Focus on creating a unique theme or concept, like an eco-friendly resort or a luxury spa retreat.
  • Construction and Landscaping: Partner with reliable contractors. Pay attention to landscaping – for a resort in Arizona, incorporate desert-friendly plants and water-conservation methods.

Interior Design and Amenities

  • Theming and Decor: Design interiors to reflect the resort’s theme. For a tropical resort, use bright colors and natural materials.
  • Amenities: Include features like pools, restaurants, fitness centers, and spas. For a family resort, consider adding a kids’ club or play area.

Staffing and Training

  • Hiring: Recruit experienced staff for various roles, from management to housekeeping. For a high-end resort, consider hiring a renowned chef for your restaurant.
  • Training Programs: Implement comprehensive training, focusing on guest service, safety, and operational efficiency.

Operational Setup

  • Utility and Service Arrangements: Ensure infrastructure supports resort operations, including water, electricity, and waste management. For a resort in a remote location, consider sustainable solutions like solar power.
  • Safety and Security Protocols: Establish strict safety protocols, including emergency response plans and security measures.

Marketing and Promotion

  • Pre-Opening Marketing: Develop a marketing strategy that highlights your resort’s unique selling points. Utilize digital marketing, social media, and partnerships with travel agencies.
  • Grand Opening Event: Organize an opening event to generate buzz, inviting influencers, local dignitaries, and the media.
  • Loyalty and Reward Programs: Create loyalty programs to encourage repeat visits, like offering a discount on the next stay after three visits.

Legal Compliance and Insurance

  • Regulatory Compliance: Stay updated with hospitality regulations, including health, safety, and employment laws.
  • Insurance Coverage: Obtain comprehensive insurance, including property, liability, and employee insurance.

Financial Management

  • Budgeting and Financial Planning: Develop a detailed budget, accounting for operational costs, marketing, staff salaries, and maintenance.
  • Revenue Management: Implement dynamic pricing strategies based on seasons and demand.

In summary, launching a resort requires a holistic approach, encompassing location analysis, design and construction, operational planning, and strategic marketing. Each step, from creating a unique guest experience to ensuring operational efficiency and compliance, is vital in establishing a successful and sustainable resort business.

Monitoring & Evaluation

Quality is the most important monitoring aspect then comes financials and overall operational efficiency. You also need to constantly check out the offering of your closest competitors, learn from their mistakes and include their best offerings. Monitoring the market will help you adjust and anticipate for macroeconomic problems which can help you mitigate risks in the long term.

To ensure the sustainable success of a resort, implementing a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation strategy is essential. This approach involves scrutinizing various aspects of the business, including financial performance, guest satisfaction, and operational efficiency, to make informed improvements.

Financial Monitoring

  • Detailed Revenue Analysis: Break down revenue streams – room bookings, dining services, spa treatments, etc. For example, if the spa brings in 25% of total revenue, consider expanding spa services.
  • Cost Management: Regularly review and compare costs such as utilities, staffing, and maintenance with industry norms. For example, if utility costs are high, explore energy-saving measures.

financials for how to start a Freight Broker business

  • Cash Flow Analysis: Employ financial management software to track cash flow, ensuring there’s adequate liquidity for operational expenses and investments.

cash flow for how to start a winery business.

Operational Efficiency

  • Maintenance and Upkeep Logs: Maintain detailed records of all maintenance and repairs, such as the frequency of pool cleaning or HVAC system checks.
  • Guest Usage Patterns: Monitor guest activity patterns using data analytics. For instance, if most guests prefer dining in the evening, optimize restaurant staffing and operations accordingly.
  • Inventory Management: Track inventory for amenities like toiletries and linens, adjusting procurement to prevent excess stock or shortages.

Customer Feedback and Engagement

  • Guest Feedback Collection: Implement digital platforms or comment cards for guest feedback. Regularly review feedback for common themes, such as requests for more diverse dining options.
  • Online Reputation Management: Actively monitor and respond to online reviews. Addressing a complaint about room service promptly can enhance reputation management.
  • Loyalty Program Efficiency: Evaluate the effectiveness of loyalty programs in enhancing guest retention and make adjustments based on participation rates and guest feedback.

Marketing Effectiveness

  • Campaign Assessments: Analyze the ROI of various marketing channels. For example, compare the effectiveness of social media marketing versus traditional print advertising.
  • Promotional Analysis: Measure the impact of promotions, like off-season discounts, by tracking changes in bookings and guest feedback during these periods.

Safety and Compliance

  • Regular Safety Checks: Conduct ongoing safety audits to ensure compliance with health and safety standards, such as fire safety and pool hygiene.
  • Regulatory Compliance Monitoring: Stay abreast of changes in hospitality laws and regulations, ensuring your resort adheres to all legal requirements.

Continuous Business Development

  • Market Trend Analysis: Keep an eye on industry trends, such as the growing demand for eco-friendly resorts or wellness tourism, and consider how these can be integrated into your offerings.
  • Technology Implementation: Evaluate new technologies, such as contactless check-in systems or smart room controls, for potential adoption to improve guest experience.

Employee Performance and Development

  • Staff Reviews and Feedback: Hold regular performance reviews with staff, recognizing high performers and identifying areas for improvement.
  • Ongoing Training: Provide training in areas like customer service excellence, new technology tools, or language skills to enhance staff capabilities and guest experience.

An effective monitoring and assessment plan allows a resort to boost operational efficiency, customer happiness, and bottom line results by making data-driven choices. The key to long-term success in the hospitality sector is constantly evaluating these important areas. This allows for adaptability to changes in the market, optimization of operations, and an overall increase in the quality of the guest experience

Frequently Asked Questions on Resort Business

Consider what makes your location special. Is it near a beach, a historical site, or in the mountains? Use these elements to create a theme that resonates with the environment and offers a unique experience to guests.

Sustainability is key in today’s world. Look into using renewable energy sources, implementing water-saving measures, and sourcing locally-grown food for your restaurants. These practices not only help the environment but also attract eco-conscious guests.

Absolutely! Collaborating with local tour operators, restaurants, and cultural attractions can provide your guests with authentic local experiences while supporting the community.

Invest in thorough training programs for your staff. Focus on hospitality, cultural sensitivity, and conflict resolution skills. Regularly gathering feedback from guests can also help you continually improve service quality.

Think beyond the standard offerings. Depending on your location, you could offer unique activities like stargazing nights, local cooking classes, or even eco-tours. Tailor these experiences to fit your resort’s theme and location.