Hotel Oceana

An innovative dive outfitter lays plans to build a futuristic platform resort—right next to the reef

May 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
scuba diving resort, scuba diving platform

   Photo: Illustration by Steve Stankiewicz

The allure of scuba diving far from shore has always been offset by the requisite marathon boat ride and double dose of Dramamine. But this spring, a Florida treasure-hunting outfit, Amelia Research & Recovery, began inviting charter groups to its new $1.8 million offshore base camp—uilt on a rig known as a lift boat. Long used by the oil industry, these vessels create sturdy platforms in up to 500 feet of water. From the Polly L, as the aqua-lodge is called, divers can explore wrecks and reefs dozens of miles from the coast, sans commute. By mid-2005, Amelia plans to launch a $3.5 million deluxe lift boat (illustrated below) designed exclusively for hosting tourists on dive spots from the Keys to the Caribbean. Here's a look at a splashy new kind of inn.

The 2005 resort, like the Polly L, will essentially be a barge with legs. After motoring it to a sandy spot near a dive site, the captain will activate hydraulics that drive the legs down until they hit bottom and the vessel rises above the water. It can sleep 60 and, with an onboard desalinization plant, stay offshore for up to nine months, requiring only biweekly food deliveries. Garbage will be ferried to shore, and sewage will be biologically processed, then filtered, with only sterilized water released into the ocean.
(1) Twenty standard, wedge- shaped rooms will be offered on deck three, for $300 per night. All will have access to a wraparound balcony, Web connections, Private bathrooms, and connectable twin beds (to get cozy with your dive buddy). Four luxury suites—ith gas fireplaces, DVD players, and wet bars—ill be on deck four, priced at $600 to $800 per night.

(2) Après-dive amenities on deck two will include a pub-style room with pool tables, arcade games, and a digital theater (3). Half of deck four will house three tiki bars, each with its own musical theme: country, top 40, and "island fare." The rest of the slab will be for open-air sunbathing.

(4) The bottom level will include a full-service dive shop and, for daytime scuba classes, a 10-by-20-foot heated pool (5), which will morph into a hot tub for nighttime parties. A classroom for pre-dive briefings and training lectures will sit adjacent to the theater on deck two.

(6) Kayaks and four 26-foot diesel-powered launches will be available for fishing, dive-site explorations, and, when in range, trips to shore.

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