Jules’ Undersea Lodge, originally built in the 1970s as a research laboratory, was the first underwater hotel. Just off the coast of Florida, it caters mostly to scuba drivers and can hold up to six guests. The small two-bedroom lodge, named after 19th century novelist Jules Verne, was the first underwater hotel, but it is certainly not the last.
Hydropolis, near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is under construction at a cost of $500 million. The hotel sits 60 feet below the surface and has 220 rooms, a shopping mall, three bars and a missile defense system, according to Money magazine.
Poseidon Undersea Resort is a competitor in development off the coast of Fiji. Situated about 40 feet below the water’s surface, according to Poseidon’s website, it is much smaller than Hydropolis but boasts a view of some of the world’s grandest coral reefs. These reefs are sanctuaries that will be protected by the nonprofit Poseidon Coral Reef Sanctuary Project and cultivated by the Enhanced Reef Program.
Both hotels will feature extensive offerings above water, such as artificial beaches, sport courts and shops. Neither hotel is scheduled to open until 2008, though Hydropolis could potentially open even later.
Depending on the success of these underwater ventures, such investments could become a big business. If the hotel industry realizes success, condominiums and luxury properties could follow suit. Wealthy buyers might be attracted by the adventure. Improving technology and building methods could eventually mean underwater property would be available to the masses, which could be an important development if the polar ice caps continue to melt.
For now, underwater structures require vast amounts of time and capital, and the environmental effects are largely unknown.
There are no underwater real estate investment opportunities available for smaller investors at this point. Investors casting their eyes to the sea shouldn’t jump ship on dry land investing quite yet. Hydropolis and Poseidon Undersea Resort have yet to welcome their first guests; it remains to be seen whether they can sustain themselves, much less jumpstart an underwater real estate industry.
The previously published version of this story contained errors about the cost and depth of the Poseidon project.