What is an underwater hotel?
As there is no hotel in the world (yet) that is entirely underwater, any hotel with a substantial section of its premises underwater – either a hotel room or a restaurant or bar – may be colloquially referred to as an underwater hotel. There are currently thirteen hotels around the world that can host guests underwater.
The Maldives, has six underwater hotels, all six of which have restaurants in their underwater section but with one, Conrad Rangali Island, also having an underwater hotel room.
Atlantis the Palm Resort Dubai has two underwater hotel suites to go with its underwater restaurant. Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore has eleven suites and one restaurant underwater while Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland in China and Reef Suites, off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, both have two underwater suites with the former also having a restaurant underwater.
All are exclusive, and expensive, luxury resorts but somewhat more basic, and cheaper, underwater accommodation can be found at Jules’s Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Tanzania and Utter Inn in Lake Mälaren, Sweden.
How are underwater hotels constructed?
Constructing safe inhabitable spaces underwater is a complicated feat of engineering, with pretty much zero room for error. It goes without saying that they have to be completely waterproof but, even at shallow depths, water pressure can prove testing for all but the sturdiest of specialized structures.
The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s underwater suite (pictured above), to give an example, was made from concrete, steel, thick portions of the type of acrylic glass used for aquariums and submarines, and a vast amount of heavy duty marine sealant.
It was prefabricated, almost in its entirety, on dry-land in Singapore then shipped to the Maldives. There the 600 tonne structure was lowered underwater and fixed firmly in place with concrete and steel piles. The total cost? $15 million.
All 5 Star hotel underwater sections will have a fairly similar, and similarly expensive, engineering story. Jules’s Sea Lodge in Key Largo though will have cost a lot less, as a converted marine research laboratory, though much less of it is glass.
It was built of alloyed steel and other metals in common with submarines and with similar small acrylic glass windows. It is connected to the surface via cables which supply power, water, telecommunication and fresh air. It lies just off the sea bed and is only accessible by scuba dive.
Utter Inn in Lake Mälaren and The Manta Resort were both built for purpose but both have a similarly cost conscious, practical design. Being basically sealed boxes of alloyed metal with acrylic glass windows fixed between the lake/sea floor and a surface level access section.
How much do underwater hotels cost?
The above mentioned Conrad Maldives’ underwater room might have cost a pretty staggering $15 million to build but they now charge (in 2021) a rate of around $10,000 a night.
Atlantis the Palm Dubai’s two underwater suites are roughly half that with an average rate of $5,000 or so, but again with Covid certainly impacting the price. Expect to pay much more when the pandemic is over.