No I'm not talking about a boring trip to the Aquarium or an episode of the Sopranos. No what I am referring to ... is literally "sleeping with the fishes". When one thinks about the future of travel, one might conjure up gaining passage on a rocket ship into space, the final frontier. Or that the honeymoons of the 21st century might actually entail a trip to the moon! Yes, yes... in all due course... I am sure that eventuality will happen. But what about exhausting the many unique features of terra firma before we actually decide to leave the planet? What about exploring the deep blue seas?
Could you imagine booking a hotel stay underwater? A haven for business and leisure travelers with all the services and amenities you have come to expect from a deluxe above-ground hotel? Impossible you say? As we speak, a development under the self-explanatory name, Hydropolis is just that place. Off the coast of Jumeirah, in the United Arab Emirates, it will be the world's first underwater luxury hotel. When complete in 2009, this $500-million complex will offer 220 suites that actually sit on the floor of the Gulf, 20 meters below the surface. Similar to first-class facilities, this hotel will feature a ballroom, spa, restaurants, shops and spacious luxurious villas.
"Hydropolis is a splendid refuge far away from the stress factors of everyday business life and is ideally suited for guests from top management seeking to regenerate their inner strength," explains a project fact sheet.
The hotel will first welcome guests at a land station. The upper levels will house a variety of facilities, including a cosmetic surgery clinic, a marine biological research laboratory and conference facilities. On the lower levels are staff rooms, loading areas, and parking platforms. The station also includes a restaurant and a high-tech cinema which will screen the evolution of life in the ocean and the history of underwater architecture.
From here, passengers will board a noiseless train propelled by a fully automated cable where guests will be transported through a connecting tunnel to the hotel lobby and check-in area. Upon arrival, today's traveler will be able to inhabit a world only imagined by the famous science fiction author, Jules Verne. Billed as one of the largest contemporary construction sites in the world, the submarine complex will cover an area of 260 hectares, comparable to the size of London's Hyde Park.
His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai is the owner of Hydropolis and with the support of over 150 firms, this first-time innovative architectural marvel will be soon be welcoming dignitaries, world leaders and oil executives.
"Hydropolis is not a project; it's a passion," enthuses Joachim Hauser, the developer and designer of the hotel. There are very few sites in the world where such a grandiose scheme could be erected. One thinks of the Seven Wonders of the World, and can only wonder if Hydropolis will soon be added as the eighth! Over the years, Dubai has flourished as a high-end international Mecca attracting travelers from all over the world. "This venture could only be born here in Dubai," says Hauser. "It [has] a very open-minded, international community - and that's what makes it so special."
Hauser's vision will incorporate indigenous elements associated with the sea. The ambiance and interior design will be ocean-based, and cinemas will screen films that focus on aquatic themes. The complex will also incorporate a children's sea-world park that will educate as well as entertain.
Hydropolis will also have something for those who do not dive or even know how to swim, as it will offer a respite where one can experience the tranquility and inspiration of an underwater world odyssey. "We are expecting around 3,000 visitors a day in addition to the hotel guests," noted Hauser.
The conceptual basis for the project was also designed to educate the public about marine life. While water covers almost a third of the earth's surface, man is still learning about its significance. "We waste it, go swimming in it and generally take it for granted," says Hauser. "Humans could actually live self-sufficiently underwater, generating energy, nurturing food supplies and so on. We want to create the first ever faculty for marine architecture because I believe that the future lies in the sea, including the future of city planning. I am certain that one day a whole city will be built in the sea. Our aim is to lay the first mosaic by colonizing the sea."
Maybe there is more to the lyrics from the broadway musical, The Little Mermaid:
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you lookin' for?
Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea
Maybe life under the sea will be just as miraculous a journey as a trip to Mars! See you at the Hydropolis in '09! Don't forget to pack your goggles and fins!
Sources: Four SeasonsTravel, Primidi, Designbuild-Network, Enotes, Stlyrics. Ron Callari
Ron Callari, our Guest Blogger, is the Chief Marketing Officer for iOptimize Marketing, Inc. and a veteran of the hotel industry for the last 25 years. Ron is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist, and is the author of "Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree", published in 2005, and the creator of kidd millennium's editorial cartoons, at kiddmillennium.com.