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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

New underwater hotel lets guests sleep with Nemo

AFP   November 19, 2013
First Published: 11:31 IST(19/11/2013) | Last Updated: 11:30 IST(22/11/2013)

A new underwater hotel room has opened off the coast of Tanzania for intrepid, adventurous and ocean-loving travelers.

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Set off Pemba Island, also known as ‘the Green Island’ in Arabic, guests of The Manta Resort's underwater room are dropped off at a self-contained hotel which literally drifts at sea.

Guests can sunbathe on the top deck of their private island accommodations by day and dine on a lounge deck at water level. By night, they'll then dive into the sea to access their hotel room, where they nod off amongst the fishes and their marine surroundings.

For an ethereal effect, the suite, which is built four meters below the surface, is lit by underwater spotlights to provide a backlit projection of the Indian Ocean’s tropical sanctuary.

Part of the experience also lies in its isolation and underdevelopment as a tourist destination. The most reliable way to access Pemba Island is by chartered flights from Zanzibar. And while interest in the region is growing amongst divers for its unspoiled reefs, the area has yet to be paved by large-scale resorts and tourist crowds.

The Manta Resort's underwater hotel room. Photo: AFP

The suite is designed by Swedish outfit Genberg Underwater Hotels, which opened its first underwater property in a Swedish lake near Stockholm in 2000. The Utter Inn is a single room that lies three meters below the surface and contains twin beds and a table.

Meanwhile, the Manta Resort is the latest underwater guest experience to shake up the hotel industry. While the conventional trend has been to look skyward and snag bragging rights to building the tallest hotel or the highest penthouse, other hoteliers have been looking the other way, designing properties that maximize the beauty of tropical underwater environments.

The Manta Resort. Photo: AFP

Perhaps one of the best existing examples is the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel, which consistently makes it onto travel bucket lists and most exclusive lists.

Set five meters below the surface, the fine dining restaurant features 180-degree views of the coral gardens.

Polish developers have also revealed plans to build an ambitious, futuristic-looking luxury hotel in the Maldives that will be built partially underwater. Reminiscent of the Star Trek Enterprise, the spaceship-like property will be built seven meters above water on five pillars, while the lower deck will be built up to 30 meters below the surface.

Room rates at The Manta Resort start at $750 per person a night.



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