Bruce Jones has spent much of his career designing underwater toys for the rich and famous. The 50-year-old president of U.S. Submarines is best known for building ultraluxe custom subs, $80-million vessels that feature private staterooms, paneled interiors made from exotic hardwoods, plush carpeting, and enough onboard oxygen to keep you and 10 friends breathing easy for three weeks of cruising at depths of nearly 1,000 feet. Now Jones is redirecting his expertise in undersea opulence toward the hotel industry. His plan: to open the Poseidon Mystery Island, the world’s first major resort at the bottom of the ocean, by September 2008.
The hotel, which will sit in about 40 feet of water, will boast individual suites, as well as a library, a wedding chapel and a restaurant. In addition to scuba diving, the guests will be able to cruise around the lagoon in either a 16-person submarine capable of 300-foot-depths, or learn to pilot a three-person Triton sub, which can reach 1,000 feet.
Jones designed Poseidon to provide guests—scuba aficionados and landlubbers alike—with an all-inclusive vacation package: fine dining, stunning views of the surrounding lush coral habitat, and the opportunity to dive directly from the hotel’s airlock, a hatch that lets divers out but keeps the sea from flooding into the hotel. Once the resort opens, visitors staying in one of the 550-square-foot guest rooms will enjoy a 270-degree view of the vibrant coral reef and tropical fish, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows and illuminated by external flood lighting. Guests will access the hotel through two elevators. Because the interior pressure will be held at one atmosphere (the same pressure as onshore), they won’t have to worry about getting decompression sickness. A Frisbee-shaped module at one end of the resort will house a kitchen, reception lounge and 3,000-square-foot rotating restaurant and bar. A second saucer will enclose a library, a conference room, a wedding chapel, a spa and the largest underwater accommodation in the world, the 1,200-square-foot “Nautilus” suite priced at $15,000 a night. To ensure that guests always have a crystal-clear view of the teeming marine life, Poseidon will have an automatic window-cleaning system (barnacles, algae and other marine creatures cling to just about anything in the sea). High-powered water jets will glide along tracks mounted to the sides of the resort, spraying the windows with high-pressure seawater, filtered so as not to coat the acrylic with barnacle larvae or other critters—a mechanism modeled after the cleaning jets in an automated car wash.
If the windows of a guest module become damaged, or if the room requires other repairs, maintenance workers can detach it from the main body of the resort and bring it to the surface. To loosen the joint that connects each suite to Poseidon’s “spine,” workers will close the watertight doors separating the guest module from the spine and then pump the joint full of seawater. As the hydrostatic pressure increases inside the coupling, it will force the suite loose so that an overhead crane can hoist it out of the water.
Like so many other ambitious hotel-resort plans, Poseidon must overcome unenviable logistical hurdles before the first guest walks through the door. Other promising underwater projects have ground to a halt because of budget overruns and legal wrangling. Even funding and lagoon space isn’t a surefire guarantee that Poseidon will ever be completed, although Jones’s decision to pre-fab the hotel, rather than risk the vagaries of underwater construction, tips the odds in his favor. Finally, some industry analysts are skeptical that the pool of potential guests is large enough to keep the hotel afloat. But Jones is confident that he will be taking guest reservations for Poseidon—and that guests will pony up the $15,000-per-person, per-week reservation fee—for a long time to come.
What a cool idea! Not only will it be great for tourism, but in an overpopulated future this technology may become a lifestyle for some groups of people.
I'll just settle for the underwater vacation, and keep my house on solid ground.