Travel

Living the mermaid life

Sleep under the sea in the company of rays and sharks, get a pizza delivered to your room by a scuba diver and wake up to the sight of the turquoise blue ocean. Sounds like a dream? That’s exactly what you get at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Florida, US. Underwater sea resorts are the new buzz word among luxury travellers, who prefer staying beneath the sea, enjoying its many wonders, rather than venturing outdoors.

Take Atlantis The Palm in Dubai which opened in 2008 and took three years to build. It is an underwater themed resort, with 1,539 guest rooms, and the Ambassador Lagoon, a 11 million litre marine habitat, and the Lost Chambers Aquarium, which together house 65,000 marine animals, and two underwater suites. Andrea Krenn, Vice President, Public Relations, says that the conservation of marine life is an important focus for them. Atlantis has a fish hospital, that provides a natural environment for baby rays and sharks. They also hold conservation programmes for sea horses. “We have vets working with scientists. These are passionate people. One of them even knows every fish in the aquarium by its name. Over 100 people in our resort work in the aquarium alone. Schools bring children here for classes on marine life.”

At The Manta Resort in Pemba Islands, Tanzania, you can encapsulate yourself within a blue bubble, watching shoals of reef fish swimming. There are three levels to the room. “You have the top deck with a 360-degree view of the ocean and you have the middle one which has an amazing view of the sunset. The underwater room has myriad varieties of fish, circling around the room all day and night,” says Luke Saus, the marketing manager.

It is fascinating how the resorts blend unique underwater experiences with offbeat dining options as well. At Atlantis, the underwater restaurant, Ossiano, offers contemporary cuisine infused with Mediterranean flavours. The Anantara Kihavah resort in Maldives has an underwater restaurant where sea life swims before your eyes while you dine. Clare Bromilow, Cluster Marketing Manager, says even the decoration in the pool restaurant goes in tandem with the underwater theme. “We also have an underwater wine cellar. At the under-water restaurant, we pamper our clients with an extensive international gourmet menu featuring over 350 bottles of wine, spanning nine decades, paired by the resident wine guru.” However, these resorts also offer other kinds of experiences. The Manta Resort offers spa treatments, kayaking on the beach and wi-fi in the main lounge area. Fancy diving? You can also enrol for an eLearning course, where you pick up 40% of the PADI Open Water theory online prior to your arrival at Manta. Their Dive 360 Pemba Dive Centre has a training pool, with professional dive instructors and guides.

A new wave

Sensing the growing appeal in this trend, Tony Webb, a US-based industrialist and space explorer, envisions a project for India called the Planet Ocean Underwater Hotels, to be located at 24 to 30 feet below the ocean surface.

“After working with a team of Indian marine biology students, we will find the best location for the project. The possible ones for an underwater hotel with the research centre are Gulf of Mannar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands and Gulf of Kutch.” The reason behind the idea is to build a fully self-contained, affordable, practical, safe underwater hotel that helps to fund coral reef restoration.

Webb’s plan is to make the underwater experience an affordable one, through smart construction. “Our idea is to create a more practical and modest model to generate revenue. As always, in the beginning, the rate structure will be higher. If the Indian Government was to assist in the purchasing of the underwater hotel with the research centre, we could offer a reduced rate.” Underwater resorts mark an important juncture in the future of travel, where accommodation is not just another basic need but a part of the travel experience in itself. Moreover, it is the ideal holiday destination. Children love the aquarium view and the sight of marine animals. That makes these hotels an ideal family weekend luxury destination.

And, sometimes, it is a favourite for the film crews too. Atlantis The Palm has also doubled up as a shooting locale for Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Happy New Year and the Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood-starrer Kung Fu Yoga. The idea is to offer an entertaining holiday package, says Krenn. “We have Dolphin Bay and Sea Lion Point where you interact with these marine animals and Aquaventure Waterpark with rides and cascades. says Krenn.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 4:57:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/living-the-mermaid-life/article18665479.ece

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