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Sanus per Aquam – Sleep Underwater

Sara-Lise reports from Dubai:

Inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and due to complete en October in 2006, The Hydropolis hotel will be an underwater habitat which will materialise for the first time worldwide. It is said to provide an ambience in the last uninhabited frontiers on earth in which a visit will be an unforgettable experience in the life of each individual guest.

Hydropolis is structured in three elements: the land station, the connecting tunnel, and the submarine complex. The land station is the reception and welcome centre for the hotel’s guests. The connecting tunnel is the lifeline of the complex and not only provides access for guests, but also enables provisioning of the hotel with all the necessary goods. And finally, the submarine complex is the hotel itself with its wide range of unique additional facilities.

Project inventor and designer Joachim Hauser is the German architect and investor spearheading the project is very intent on bringing his vision to reality.

Artists impression

Covering 27 acres (10.8 hectares), the project will feature architecture that’s nothing if not attention-grabbing. The design includes three linked elements: a wave-shaped 333,333-sq.-ft. (30,000-sq.-m) above-ground "land station" and the jellyfish-shaped 833,333-sq.-ft. (75,000-sq.-m.) underwater hotel, linked by a submerged transparent train tunnel that’s 1,700 feet (515 meters) long.

Among the project’s other unusual architectural details are the hotel’s two translucent domes, which will house a concert auditorium and a ballroom that break the water’s surface, with the ballroom featuring a retractable roof. And that’s not to mention the hotel’s bubble-shaped suites, with clear glass comprising both the sleeping areas’ walls and each room’s bathtub.

Hydropolis may sound more than a little far-fetched. Unusual projects, though, often spring to life in Dubai, aided by a government eager to promote the city as a revenue-generating tourist destination.

Dubai, for example, is home to the recently opened, sail-shaped Burj al Arab, the world’s tallest hotel. Compared to Hydropolis, the 27-story, 1,059-foot (321-meter) hotel is a bargain, with rates topping out at about $1,700 a day. (And that’s with free transport to and from the airport via Rolls Royce or helicopter.)

Hydropolis guests will also be able to see (through the retractable roof) the $3-billion Palm Island project that’s now being developed on reclaimed land. Shaped like a palm tree, the island will have 2,000 villas and as many as 40 luxury hotels, plus upscale retail complexes, cinemas and a marine park.

Even if Hydropolis happens, though, envelope-pushing Dubai won’t claim the distinction of having the world’s first underwater hotel. The first is actually Jules’ Underwater Lodge, a converted research laboratory in Key Largo, Fla. Jules’ Underwater Lodge, however, is far more modest, aiming mostly for scuba divers and offering only two small bedrooms and a communal area that measures eight feet by 20 feet (2.4 meters by 6.1 meters).

Links: DDIA, Press Releases

Sara-Lise Haith
Sara-Lise Haith
Sara-Lise is the former News Editor for She is based in Dubai.