Thursday, December 14, 2006

Going Down

I almost never wish I had lots of money. I've learned enough in my 40-odd years to know that if money is an aim in itself, you will never have enough of it. There will always be reasons why you "need" more than you have now, and who wants to live their whole life with that kind of discontentment? Better to be content with what you've got, if at all possible, don't you think? Having said all that, however, this article, by Michael Behar, did make me wish that I could be rich, just for a week or two, sometime after September 2008. Why September 2008? Because that's when the world's first underwater resort, the Poseidon Mystery Island, is scheduled to open its hatches off a Fijian coral reef.

Bruce Jones, a builder of luxury submarines, is taking his underwater endeavors to a new level. Here's a taste:

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.
My hometown comes in for a bit of the action:
To keep costs down, the entire structure will be assembled in a shipyard in Portland, Oregon, and transported by a heavy-lift ship to Fiji. Meanwhile, engineers will drive guidance pilings into the seafloor. The hotel will float off the ship in one piece, and divers will thread small metal rings, bolted to the hotel’s exterior, onto the pilings. These pilings keep the structure aligned until divers can pin the hotel’s steel legs to the reef. The whole structure is then ballasted until it sinks to the seabed.
Sounds ambitious, but won't it be cool if they can pull it off? I wonder if they'll be giving tours of the hotel before it ships out of that shipyard in Portland? Just getting to see the thing while it's still on land would be a kick, even though it's really the ocean views that will make this hotel so special. Follow the link to the article. There's video that will show you just what a treat hotel guests are in for, once the Poseidon Mystery Island settles into her final home.

One question I had from watching the video was what impact the hotel will have on the marine life nearby. Since I can only imagine the hotel lights and noise will be a new and different experience for its aquatic neighbors, I can't help wondering whether they will cause any problems for the local ecosystem, and clearly, there would be other concerns as well. One assumes there must be adequate systems to deal with such things as waste disposal and energy needs, but the Popsci article didn't go into depth on these issues. I can see why; the piece was really more about enjoying the idea of an underwater adventure, than about janitorial details. As such, it did its job. It certainly made me want to go on holiday "under the sea."

Now, at $15,000 for a week's stay in a 550-square-foot room, I don't expect to get to schedule a visit--ever. I can't help dreaming a little, though, and if ever anything could make me wish I had more money, it would be this--this and maybe a chance to ride a space elevator up to a space hotel. If I had the resources for just one, and both were actually available, it would be a very hard decision to choose between the two. Would it be hard enough to make me wish I wasn't faced with such a choice? Probably not.

Hat tip: Futurismic