Dubai builds exotic luxury hotels

Hotter Under the Water: A Look at the World’s Most Interesting Underwater Hotels

Photo courtesy of Deep Ocean Technology

Photo courtesy of Deep Ocean Technology

By: Financialist Staff

Published: August 7, 2013

Dubai already boasts a bevy of architectural wonders. It’s got the world’s tallest building—the 2,722-foot Burj Khalifa. It’s also out in front of the rest of the world when it comes to man-made islands, from the frond-shaped Palm Jumeirah to The World, an archipelago currently under construction that will form a world map when viewed from above. Such architectural excesses have helped make the emirate a go-to destination for well-heeled tourists. Having conquered both the land and the sky, developers are now planning to bring Dubai’s particular brand of glitz underwater.

The Water Discus Hotel is Dubai’s latest attempt to wow novelty-seeking travelers. Billed as the world’s largest underwater hotel, at this point the resort, which is being developed by Polish developer Deep Ocean Technology, is little more than a series of renditions of a structure that would not look amiss in a 1960s sci-fi television show. The plans call for 21 suites spread across two main discs – one above water and another immersed about 38 feet under the waves. Special lighting technology will allow guests in underwater suites to observe the flora and fauna outside their windows. While there’s no official opening date for the hotel as yet, it seems likely that the underwater accommodations will be popular. The Palm: Atlantis in Dubai already includes two underwater suites for which it’s able to charge as much as $8,800 for a single night.

If you’re yearning to live it up in submerged luxury, help is on the way. From the quaint to the sublime, take a plunge with The Financialist to explore the world’s existing underwater hotels, as well as a few that are currently in the works.

Atlantis: The Palm

Photo courtesy of Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

Photo courtesy of Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

While The Palm is anchored on terra firma, the Dubai offshoot of the famed Bahamas resort includes the Neptune and Poseidon underwater suites. These luxurious accommodations come with a private butler on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as an up-close view of the aquatic life in the hotel’s gigantic, man-made Ambassador Lagoon. And when you picture the suites, don’t think of a submarine’s cramped quarters. The rooms, which can sleep as many as five people, spread across three floors and feature a full living room. And while booking one of the suites can run you just over $8,800 per night, that fee also includes free massages, personal trainer services and complimentary access to the resort’s night-club. You’ll also have your own private cabana at the hotel pool or beach if you’d like to surface during the day, as well as free admission to the underwater Lost Chambers aquarium, a labyrinthine structure with views of sharks, eels, seahorses and piranhas, and the 42-acre Aquaventure water park.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island – Ithaa Undersea Restaurant


Photo courtesy of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (Conrad Hotels & Resorts)

The Conrad Maldives Rangali, which has 50 water villas and 79 beachside villas near Rangalifinolhu Island in the Maldives, is dipping its toes underwater with its Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. From 15 feet below the sea, patrons can indulge in the restaurant’s six-course menu. Don’t tell the creatures swimming by the windows, but seafood is a specialty, including a yellowtail kingfish accompanied by saffron champagne risotto and beurre blanc foam.

The Water Discus Hotel


Photo courtesy of Deep Ocean Technology

The project’s developers have teamed up with Big Invest Group, a Zurich-based consultancy, to help it raise financing for the project, which according to its developers could cost between $50 million and $120 million to build, depending on the hotel’s final design. The futuristic plans include a bar, restaurant, swimming pools and spa. Don’t worry, though – the helipad is above water.

The Poseidon Undersea Resort


Photo Courtesy of Poseidon Undersea Resort

Developer Bruce Jones envisions the Poseidon, located off a private island in Fiji, as the launchpad for a chain of five-star underwater hotels. For couples searching for a wedding venue that will really set jaws agape, the Poseidon is also planning to include an undersea chapel complete with views of a coral reef. Complementing the hotel’s 25 underwater suites will be 51 suites for landlubbers, tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course, all located on the resort’s private island. The idea of a chain of luxury underwater resorts is certainly novel, but Jones first floated this bold vision more than a decade ago and construction has yet to start on a single resort. Building costs, which Swiss firm Strategic Hotel Consulting recently estimated at roughly $11.4 million per underwater suite, could prove prohibitive.

Hotel Otter Inn

Hotel Otter Inn2

Photo Courtesy of Mikael Genberg

The Otter Inn, created by Swedish artist Mikael Genberg, actually houses paying guests, an achievement worth noting given the track record other developers are having building underwater accommodations in natural habitats. (Don’t forget, the two suites that actually exist at the Palm in Dubai are submerged in a man-made lagoon.) However, unlike its would-be underwater competitors, the inn is not a five-star masterpiece, but rather a single, soberly decorated room — available for €127 ($168) per night – that’s submerged in nine feet of water in the middle of Sweden’s Lake Mälaren. Guests access the hotel by taking a boat from the city of Västerås, which is about 62 miles west of Stockholm. They also receive an inflatable boat with their booking that they can use to visit islands along the lake.


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