Crocus Chief Plans $1Bln Azeri Resort

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Crocus International said Monday that it would spend $1 billion building a luxury resort on the Caspian coast near Azerbaijan's capital Baku.

The resort will be built over 300 hectares on the Absheron peninsula east of Baku.

"Azerbaijan has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Putting a resort there is necessary to make Azerbaijan popular in the world," Crocus' head, billionaire Araz Agalarov, told reporters.

The resort will have capacity for around 8,000 to 10,000 visitors, and it will host a yacht club and medicinal spa and might include a golf club later on, said politically connected Agalarov, whose son is married to the Azeri president's daughter, Leila Aliyeva.

The resort should be up and running in two years, Crocus spokesman Ponduz Kerimov said.

The Crocus Group, set up in 1989, consists of the Crocus Bank, Crocus City Mall, an upmarket shopping center near Moscow and the recently built Crocus Expo exhibition hall.