October 20, 2020

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Sleep with the fishes: Australia’s first underwater hotel rooms open on Great Barrier Reef

Beneath the surface of the $10 million Reefworld Pontoon lie Australia’s first undersea hotel rooms

Reefsuites at Reefworld on the Great Barrier Reef. Photograph: Russell Millard/Russell Millard Photography

By Alyx Gorman From The Guardian UK

For $799 a night, tourists now have the opportunity to live out a Finding Nemo dream or a Dead Calm nightmare on the Great Barrier Reef.

From 1 December, Reefsuites, a pair of underwater hotel rooms, will open to visitors.

Described as an “intimate experience that will stay with you forever” the Reefsuites look out onto Hardy Reef, an area that is in recovery from both damage sustained during the catastrophic Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and mild coral bleaching.

Both ensuite rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows; allowing customers to look out into a vast world of water, glowing an alien shade of turquoise, while they contemplate the fragility of both nature and humanity. By night, guests can turn on a light to observe nearby underwater life, while the endless black expanse of the ocean presses in around them.

Visitors staring at fish in a Reefsuites suite.
 Visitors staring at fish in a Reefsuites suite. Photograph: Russell Millard/Russell Millard Photography

The submerged rooms are part of Reefworld Pontoon, a $10m structure built to replace tourism operator Cruise Whitsunday’s original pontoon on Hardy Reef, which was damaged during the cyclone.

The project included replanting 4,000 pieces of coral, taken from old moorings, onto the existing reef walls. Queensland’s tourism industry development minister, Kate Jones, stated that the redevelopment team had ensured the reef was protected.

This may be Australia’s first underwater hotel development, but it will not be its last. In June the Queensland government backed plans for a three-level pontoon and underwater hotel near Lady Musgrave Island on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

While it may be a first for Australia, underwater hotels already operate in Dubai, the Maldives and Tanzania.

In a statement, Jones said: “This will be one of the most iconic tourism experiences in Australia.”

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For more on this story and to donate go to: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/nov/30/sleep-with-the-fishes-australias-first-underwater-hotel-rooms-open-on-great-barrier-reef

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