With plans for the Discus Hotel in Dubai well under way, we felt it appropriate to give a little nod to the latest craze in hospitality. We’ve christened it, marine tourism. Sure, space tourism will be on the horizon soon enough, but until that day, the more audacious of tourists are checking themselves in to that great other beyond – the deep blue sea. Here ‘ocean view’ and ‘on the beach’ should be taken in their most literal sense; enter the new division of incredible underwater hotels.
Jules Undersea Lodge
Named after the author of 20, 000 Leagues under the Sea, Jules Undersea Lodge was the world’s first underwater hotel. Located in Key Largo, Florida, the Lodge began life as La Chalupa, a groundbreaking research facility, when it was originally built in the ‘70s. It was later transformed into a hotel in 1986, catering especially to lovers of the marine world. Set about 21 feet under water, the hotel can only be reached through diving. Visitors who are not certified divers must first complete Jules’ three hour crash course in scuba diving before they embark on their underwater adventure. Then, after diving down through the mangrove habitat of the Emerald Lagoon, guests resurface through a wet room entrance, and find themselves in a treasure trove of modern day life conveniences. Escapism is taken to extraordinary new heights (or should we say depths?) at this secret underwater clubhouse. When taking a break from marvelling at unobstructed views sea life in their natural settings through 42-inch windows, guests can enjoy all the creature comforts anyone could ask for. Expect to find air-conditioning, hot showers, a stereo, a DVD player and the world’s only underwater chef, who will serve breakfast at 8am every morning and dinner at 6pm, promptly. Jules really is the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure. On an average evening the hotel is shared by two different couples, but it can accommodate a group of six friends in the congenial living quarters, designed by the award-winning firm of Richard F. Geary Interior Designers. However, exclusive use of the hotel can also be arranged for couples and the Lodge is even available for underwater weddings.
Not every undersea resort requires its guests to dive, or even to get wet. Poseidon Undersea Resort, located 40-feet below sea level in a 5,000 acre Fijian lagoon, can be reached by the convenience of an elevator. The $200 million Poseidon development, which includes seaside bungalows above the waterline, begins on a mile-long, palm-shrouded crescent of Fijian island. The elevator takes you down to the two dozen luxury suites, and also the restaurant, library, conference room and a convertible wedding chapel. Poseidon undersea is the first ever 5-star luxury underwater resort, and the brainchild of is L. Bruce Jones and his company, U.S. Submarines, renowned builders of deep-diving mini-subs and submersibles. Each of Poseidon’s suites is encased in a clear acrylic shell, four inches thick and a simple press of a button on your control console will feed the outside fish. Pretty impressive, right? However, guests looking to get in on this James Bond-style adventure will have to cough up a whopping $15,000 per person for seven days and six nights.
Utter Inn is styled like a retro Swedish house, all painted brick red, with white trimmed windows. Primarily an art project by Mikael Genberg, Utter Inn offers underwater accommodation to the public (and by that we mean at affordable prices). After pulling up to the Inn by an inflatable boat that picks you up from the port of Vasteras, guests can step down into their room, which is three metres below water level in Lake Malarenl, Sweden. Then, after receiving all the instructions guests need, they are then left completely alone to enjoy their unique experience. Although alone, guests are also welcomed to use their inflatable canoe to visit the closest uninhabited island. Or if they prefer the ‘deluxe’ package, someone can deliver dinner by boat in the evening – hey, we’re talking about what an artist considers deluxe here, not a billionaire submarine company owner.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Ok so you won’t be able to spend the entire night underwater here, but at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, you’ll get a taste of the general idea. The restaurant serves up Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine, in the world’s first all-glass underwater restaurant. Offering unobstructed 180-degree views of the surrounding reef, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant offers diners the chance to marvel at 180° views of reef and marine life, whilst sipping on champagne cocktails. And located around 16 feet below sea level in the Indian Ocean, there are some truly spectacular sights to behold.