Sunday, 25 May 2014


The round windows in the Lodge are the major attractions. You can have different kinds of fish peering into your bedroom; you can also see the Pizza delivery man swimming up to the door. Photo: Jules Undersea Lodge

Jules Undersea Lodge in Florida, US, began its existence as La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater habitat used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. Located in the Emerald Lagoon, chock-full with reef fish, tropical angel fish, parrot fish, barracuda, snappers, anemones, sponges, oysters and feather duster worms, the lodge is like a sight in the mind of a sci-fi writer.

It sits on legs five feet off the ocean floor. Guests have to Scuba dive 21 feet down into the sea to get to the front door of Jules, which is the first under sea hotel in the US. The air conditioned cottage-sized lodge with a futuristic decor has two private bed rooms and an 8' by 20' common room, which has a well-stocked galley, dining and entertainment areas. Each of the bedrooms and the common room is equipped with telephone, intercom, VCR/DVD etc. 

Entering the Lodge, 21 feet down into the ocean
However, nothing compares to the 42" round window in each room. "Waking up to view a pair of angelfish looking at you through the bedroom window is a sight you'll never forget," states Ian Koblick, owner and co-developer of the Lodge. He and his business partner Neil Monney have over 50 years of combined ocean research and industry experience. The duo named their unique lodge in honour of Jules Verne, author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. "Jules' Undersea Lodge is a tribute to the human quest for exploration and adventure," says Koblick of the lodge which opened its doors to the public in 1986.

The Lodge is filled with compressed air, which prevents water from rising and flooding the rooms. Guests, in scuba gear, enter the lodge via a 5' by 7' 'moon pool' entrance in the floor of the building to reach the wet room, where they leave their diving gear, take a quick hot shower before entering the rest of the living area. You can either enjoy a three-hour vacation ($150 per person) or stay overnight ($675 per person or $800 for a couple). You can have pizza delivered from land or have a chef Scuba dive down to the hotel to prepare and serve a gourmet dinner. 

The Lodge's command centre, manned by a mission director, is land-based and is located at the edge of the Lagoon. The control centre is connected to the undersea lodge by an umbilical cable which delivers fresh air, water, power, and communications. The facility is monitored round the clock. 

You need to dive 21 ft into the water to get to this
To get into Jules' Undersea Lodge, one must be a certified SCUBA diver. If you are not a certified diver, you can take the Discover SCUBA Diving certification for $95. However you cannot take the course if you cannot swim or diabetic or pregnant or have psychological reasons that would prevent you from diving. 

In spite of the many restrictions that would stop most people from diving down to the under sea retreat, the Lodge has had some illustrious guests including former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; rock stars Steve Tyler of Aerosmith and Jon Fishman of Phish.

The Lodge is an impeccable specimen of ingenuity combined with commerce and common sense. It not only provides a unique experience to guests but also protects the lagoon. "Marine life is actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure," explains Koblick. The Lodge serves as an artificial reef, providing shelter and substrate for marine animals. And the flow of air to the Lodge constantly adds oxygen to the entire surrounding body of water, creating a symbiotic relationship between technology and nature.

To live beneath the sea was once just the dream of science fiction writers. Now it is a reality... Even for the common man!

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