Underwater Hotel to Be Dubai's Latest Extravagance

Skylines are so passé. In an attempt to give travelers better—or at least closer—ocean views, Dubai-based construction company Drydocks World and Swiss consulting, engineering, and brokerage firm BIG InvestConsult will build the Water Discus Hotel, a luxury underwater hotel in Dubai.

Poland’s Deep Ocean Technology designed the hotel, surrounded by a coral reef, to have 21 two-person rooms with huge windows and an underwater diving center. Rooms will be as deep as 10 meters below the surface, and diving training will be offered. The hotel can also rotate. A large disc-shaped structure above the water will have a spa, garden, and upper-terrace swimming pool—presumably for guests at an underwater hotel who don’t actually want to be in the ocean.

Architect Paweł Podwojewski says he started designing the hotel two years ago. He approached it more as if it were a ship than a building, and kept construction costs low by making the structure simple and not fixing it to the ocean floor. The hotel can surface for repairs or evacuation in anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours—the speed is adjustable—and be tugged to new locations. The acrylic windows are the most expensive part, he says, and can be added or removed based on the budget.

Water Discus Hotel is not the first underwater hotel to be announced, but it could be the first to succeed. In 2006, plans were made for Hydropolis, a 250- to 300-suite resort off the coast of Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, though the estimated $300 million project never even began construction. U.S. Submarine Structures also announced Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji, which lists a package on its website for seven days and six nights for $15,000 per person. Poseidon, under construction, has been delayed and the opening is at least 20 months out, says L. Bruce Jones, chief executive of U.S. Submarine Structures. Another underwater hotel was planned in Istanbul.

Basic engineering and design questions aside, there are other things the casual traveler might wonder: “Do I still need sunblock? Will my iPhone work underwater? What if the hotel scares away the sea creatures? If something goes wrong, can the evacuation system that lifts the underwater hotel to the surface really be expected to work, as animated in the video? Is it a bad idea to watch Jaws 3—in which a man-eating shark breaks through the glass in a control room at an ocean amusement park—before arriving? Could I get seasick?”

The project will cost from $50 million to $120 million, depending on the design, the chairman of Drydocks World told reporters. BIG InvestConsult will fund the project and represent Deep Ocean Technology, which owns the technology and concept for the hotel. The announcement comes a month after Drydocks World sought insolvency protection in Dubai and Singapore to push through a $2.2 billion debt restructuring, according to the Vancouver Sun. Drydocks World and Maritime World are the main contractors for new hotels and floating cities in the Middle East, which so far include two developments with five hotels, reported the Chicago Tribune, and there are discussions to build more underwater hotels around the world.

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