Coming soon: World's largest underwater hotel

Planners and investors will need some deep pockets if they want Water Discus Hotel to be more than a deep sea fantasy.

The notion of "sleeping with the fishes" may someday have a much more upbeat connotation if an ambitious new construction project in Dubai gets underway.

Swiss firm BIG InvestConsult AG has partnered with Underwater architecture specialists Deep Ocean Technology to build the world's largest underwater hotel. Early designs of the envisioned Water Discus hotel showcases an interconnected network of disc shaped structures that each functions separately as distinct destinations such as a restaurant, parking terrace and even a helio landing pad for the fashionably late billionaires. The underwater section, located 33 feet below sea level, will feature a 11,000 square feet building that houses 21 guest rooms.

Plans also call for a diving center, a spa and garden patio -- all of which can be easily accessed using elevators or stairs. And if that isn't remarkable enough, the structure can also be moved in case the location suddenly becomes unsuitable. Each of the high rise disc units can detach from the main connecting frame and float on its own to safety.

Now the concept of an undersea resort isn't anything new. There's already a Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, which features a two bedroom, one bath retreat that can be booked for overnight stays. There's also an undersea restaurant and spa.

But building something that's the equivalent of an aquatic trump towers has proved to be a real challenge. Back in 2006, German Architect Roland Dieterle proposed to build the world's first underwater luxury resort. The blueprint for Dieterle's Hydropolis called for a massive 220 suite complex to be situated 66 feet beneath the Persian Gulf, off a beach in Dubai. Estimated cost for the project was around 300 million. Needless to say, Hydropolis is still stuck in the proposal stage.

While the Water Discus Hotel is fairly humble by comparison, there's no getting around the fact that planners and investors will need some deep pockets if they hope to turn imagination into a reality. One good sign is that they've already contracted shipyard company Drydocks World to begin putting the pieces together.

And as extravagant as something like an underwater hotel can be, the developers have made assurances that the man-made building will also benefit the environment.

"Water Discus Hotel project opens many new fields of development for the hotel and tourism sector, housing and city sector in the coastal off-shore areas, as well as new opportunities for ecology support by creation of new underwater ecosystems and activities on underwater world protection," Big President Bogdan Gutkowski told World Architecture News. "Additionally we would like to create here in the UAE the International Environmental Program and Center of the Underwater World Protection - with Water Discus Hotel as a laboratory tool for oceans and seas environment protection and research."

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