Underwater “sci-fi” hotel proposed for Maldives

This story was first published on the Maldives resort review site, Dhonisaurus.com

Of all the phrases synonymous with the Maldives’ high-end island resort tourism, ‘Star-Trek’ or science fiction may not immediately spring to mind. However, things could be about to change under a new project reportedly approved by the country’s Ministry of Tourism this week.

CNN has reported that a ‘Water Discus Hotel’, designed by Poland-based design group Deep Ocean Technology, aims to marry the Maldives’ traditional over-the-water luxury and beach appeal with “opulent” undersea bedrooms.

The design, unveiled at the Maldives Hotel and Trade Exhibition in 2011, makes use of over-the-water, flying saucer-like disc sections containing a luxury restaurant and spa that are attached to 21 underwater bedrooms via a glass tunnel.

The article does not specify a date for completion of the project, or details on how it will be funded. Minivan News was awaiting a response from Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb at time of press.


Designers for the structure have explained that the hotel’s two main discs sit on a central pillar. The discs offset their respective weight because of their natural water buoyancy, so only minimal foundations are needed.

“The lower disc is filled with air and is buoyant and is anchored to the ground with steel lines,” architect Pawel Podwojewski explained to Minivan News in December 2011.

Concept art of the hotel

The seawater swimming pools on the top disc are four metres deep and balance the weight the structure, and can be used for diver training. In an emergency, or in the case of maintenance, the cables can be released, allowing the lower disc to automatically surface.

As well as enjoying a glimpse into the Maldives’ much-lauded underwater environs from the comfort of their own rooms, guests will also be able to use an on-site airlock compartment to dive right into the surrounding habitats, Podwojewski told CNN.

He also claimed that the hotel intended to offer excursions in a three passenger deep-sea submarine.

The hotel has been designed with the minimum structures needed to try and limit environmental impact, Podwojewski said this week.

In the case of local coral reefs that would be impacted directly by the construction, special plantations would be grown and relocated around the hotel once construction was complete, the designers claimed.

“The key is to touch the sea ground at just few points,” Podwojewski told CNN.

“Most probably the hotel will land on a flat sand area to reflect the sun rays inside the rooms and the reef will be additionally planted around the hotel rooms to enrich the view.”

According to the group’s website, Deep Ocean Technology was founded in 2010 by a group of scientists and engineers from the Faculty of Ocean Engineering and Ship Technology, Gdańsk University of Technology, as well using the expertise of local research and development groups.

The company is backed by Swiss investors.


The Maldives has in recent years seen a number of resorts trying to provide innovative – not to mention headline grabbing – underwater developments such as restaurants, spas and nightclubs.

Above the water, the country is also reportedly set to see the development of a series of man-made islands, including a 19-hole golf course complex, according to the company overseeing the project.

Paul Van de Camp, CEO of the Netherlands-based design group Dutch Docklands International has said the project, which proposes the creation of five man-made islands to support leisure activities in the Maldives, will begin by the end of 2013.

Set to combine underwater club houses, subterranean tunnels and private submarines, the golf course is expected to cost an estimated £320 million (MVR 7.6 billion), UK media has reported.


Maldives Hotel and Trade Exhibition draws innovative exhibits

For those in the market for golf buggies, solar heaters, paintings, outdoor furniture, spas, lighting, fish products or energy drinks, the Maldives Hotel and Trade Exhibition was the place to be this week.

The two day event was organised by the Maldives Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), filling two halls at Dharubaaruge with exhibitors from all over the world.

One particularly striking exhibit amid the lighting and food and beverage suppliers was a design for a ‘Star-Trekish’ underwater hotel with 21 rooms and positive buoyancy, able to be moored in a lagoon with minimal impact on the reef.

The two main discs sit on a central pillar – one of them eight metres underwater – and cleverly offset each others’ weight using natural water buoyancy so that only minimal foundations are needed.

“The lower disc is filled with air and is buoyant, and is anchored to the ground with steel lines,” explained architect Pawel Podwojewski. The seawater swimming pools on the top disc are four metres deep and weight the structure, and can be used for diver training. In an emergency the cables can be released allowing the lower disc to automatically surface.

Various modules can be attached ranging from spas to a restaurant, helipad and dive school. A decompression chamber is built into the lower part of the structure.

The Polish company behind the design, Deep Ocean Technology, has a background in shipbuilding rather than hotels. Podwojewski acknowledged that he had received “a lot of hard questions” during the two day MNCCI event, but had lined up “three or four” positive meetings. As presented the cost of the structure is expected to run up to US$25 million, although it is modular enough to be relocated where ever economic conditions dictate.

In the Maldives version, guests would access the structure via a jetty, spend a few nights in the underwater hotel and the rest of their holiday on the surface enjoying the sun and sandy beaches, Podwojewski suggested.

The two-day MNCCI event concludes on Wednesday evening. The annual event has run for 10 years now, both attracting tourism services to the Maldives doorstep and allowing local providers to make direct sales to visiting companies.