Two recently-announced hotels have given travellers a glimpse into the next frontier of the hospitality industry and sustainability has emerged as the key driving force.
The eye-catching and futuristic-looking projects were built on one common principle - climate resilience. Both projects integrate sustainable energy sources and systems, and are designed to withstand the future threat of worsening climate change such as sea level rises.
The Grand Cancún
Located at the northern section of Cancún’s touristic zone, along the Caribbean coast and near some Mayan archaeological sites, the Grand Cancún eco-resort is a destination in itself that will contain several hotel amenities as well as a wind farm, desalination plant, and ocean waste facility among others.
The Grand Cancún, designed by green architect Richard Moreta Castillo, is an offshore marine platform that will enable the Mexican city to address their energy problems and reduce their fossil fuels dependency.
The ambitious project, which heralds the 50th founding anniversary of Cancún in 2020, also alleviates water scarcity, minimises overdevelopment on the coast and helps control marine pollution.
To do all this, the primary undertaking was designing the massive complex on stilts. Castillo decided to forego constructing an artificial island by land reclamation to avoid damaging the underwater ecosystem.
The entire platform is then covered with solar panels to provide energy for the resort, and the city using the surplus of energy generated.
The bulk of the platform, aside from housing the underwater hotel, also has marine laboratories, research centres, and an inverse-osmosis desalination plant that will provide clean drinking water. Rainwater and wastewater will also be collected and respectively reused and purified through recycling facilities.
Another highlight of the Grand Cancún is its underwater energy farm that will harvest 47MW of tidal, current and wave energy. Plus, the eco-resort will use technology that can extract, clean and purify waste gathered from the ocean.
Building on these different levels at the base is a serpentine-like tower rising to the sky. This unique-looking tower containing the residential blocks is not simply for aesthetics; its design actually contains wind turbines that can generate 40MW/h of renewable energy.
With self-sufficiency as the guiding principle and a high regard for preserving natural resources, the Grand Cancún aims to be an iconic project for the city and strengthen its sustainability.
Water Discus hotel
Compared to the Grand Cancún, a hotel about ecological conservation, the similarly sci-fi Water Discus hotel is a piece of architecture designed with climate change effects in mind.
Since it is situated near the island of Kuredhivaru in the Maldives, one of the most climate vulnerable countries according to the World Bank, the hotel is comprised of two disc structures – one above water and the another submerged – that can move should there be any impending disaster.
The discs, which have the recreation area on the upper section and the guest rooms below, are connected to a central column containing the elevator and staircase. The structure also rests on five legs attached to the seabed.
According to the website of the specialised developer, Poland-based Deep Ocean Technology, the patented Water Discus hotel is “safe even in the event of a fairly high tsunami … The sturdiness of the construction and technical solutions employed ensure that the underwater disc automatically surfaces at once.”
In fact, because of the hotel’s modular design, the discs can be transferred to another location if needed. Architect Pawel Podwojewski said it was patterned more after a ship than a building, with the acrylic windows being the priciest detail.
The windows, though, present the beauty of the natural surroundings, especially in the underwater rooms that provide a view of the colourful coral reefs.
Other highlights of the hotel include a diving centre built underwater complete with underwater airlock and decompression chamber, a multifunctional lobby integrated inside a swimming pool, and miniature underwater vehicles that can be operated from inside the rooms to allow guests a closer inspection of the most microscopic sea creatures.
So despite the threat of worsening climate change facing the Maldives, the Water Discus hotel still maximises what its environment can offer and increases people’s admiration for it. There is also a monitoring system in place that alerts on earthquakes and extreme weather conditions, easing the tension posed by climate change and rising sea levels.