Traditional Japanese inn proposed at Morikami Park in suburban Delray Beach

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- A more than 30-year-old plan to build a traditional Japanese inn at Morikami Park has entered the concept stages after Palm Beach County Commissioners formally asked for proposals to build a Ryokan Inn on the grounds of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

The five-star resort and spa would be hidden on 14-acres of the park.

"What we envision is having this as a destination community for people from all over the world to come here to experience a truly traditional, authentic Japanese experience," Randal Baker, president of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens Board of Trustees said.

Ryokan Inns were first built in Japan in the 1600s.

The inns were often situated near mountains or the ocean.

The proposed inn would fit in with the character of the park, Bonnie White LeMay, a park administrator said.

"The concept of a Ryokan would be an enhancement to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens as long as it remained an authentic Ryokan," LeMay said. "This is the first time that it has actually gone out to bid to take it to the next step."

LeMay said the Ryokan Inn would be the first in Florida and one of only a few in the United States.

County commissioners were expected to receive proposals later this year.

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