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.


Floating island development to “definitely” start this year: Dutch Docklands CEO

A series of man-made floating islands in the Maldives are to begin development this year, Dutch Docklands International CEO Paul van de Camp has confirmed.

The project, which proposes the creation of five man-made islands to support leisure activities in the Maldives, will see the development of a 19-hole golf course begin by the end of 2013.

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

Speaking to Minivan News (January 15) van de Camp said more information regarding the finalised designs will be made available to the public later this year.

“We will definitely start [the development] in 2013. Our final selection of designs will be revealed in the next two to three months,” he added.

The project was first approved back in 2010 under the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed as a means to try and diversify tourism in the country.

An agreement with the former government to develop floating properties on five lagoons within Kaafu Atoll included a convention centre and an 18-hole golf course as part of a joint venture agreement.

Back in August last year, UK-based Daily Mail Newspaper reported that Dutch Docklands had unveiled designs for a floating golf course to be based “five minutes” away from Male’ by speed boat.

“The islands will also be designed for swimmers, divers and even private submarines to enter from below, and the Dutch firm designing the scheme has said visitors will be able to rent private submarines that can surface right in the middle of their living rooms,” the newspaper reported.

According to the Dutch Docklands website, the company is a shareholder in U-Boat Worx – a Dutch company that builds the “world’s most advanced” submarines.

Australian media recently reported more designs from the European developer, one of which being of a star-shaped floating convention hotel entitled “green star”.

“The Green Star will blend-in naturally with the existing surrounding islands. The green covered star-shape building symbolises Maldivians innovative route to conquer climate change,” a Dutch Docklands spokesperson told Herald Sun.

“This will become the number one location for conventions about climate change, water management and sustainability.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail last year, van de Camp said he had told the Maldives’ President “we can transform you from climate refugees to climate innovators.”

“The first part of the project to be built will be the golf course. This will be the first and only floating golf course in the world – and it comes complete with spectacular ocean views on every hole.

“And then there’s the clubhouse. You get in an elevator and go underwater to get to it. It’s like being Captain Nemo down there,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Koen Olthuis, who is working on the project through his Netherlands-based firm, WaterStudio, told the paper that the islands would be constructed outside of the country – potentially in India or the Middle East – a decision he claimed would ensure “no environmental cost to the Maldives”.

“When it comes to the golf course, the islands will be floated into position first and then the grass will be seeded and the trees planted afterwards,” he said.

The Daily Mail added that designers were aiming for the project to be run on renewable energy technology such as solar power, while claiming the construction would be carbon neutral.

According to an Australian news site, Dutch Docklands is currently selling waterfront villas situated overwater and designed in the shape of a ‘typical’ Maldivian flower at a starting price of $950,000.