To date, there is only one such underwater hotel in existence, a small refitted marine lab located in murky waters off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, the Jules Undersea Lodge.

But unlike that one, guests at the Poseidon will not need to don scuba gear to dive to their rooms, but rather the hotel will be connected to the mainland through two tunnels and an escalator, and rooms will be maintained at above-surface pressure.

“I think there’s a tremendous number of people who would be interested, including anyone who is looking for a different experience,” said entrepreneur Bruce Jones.

The hotel will have its own restaurant, a bar and 20 large suites with transparent acrylic walls facing coral gardens that can be lit up at night.

Guests can expect to see a large variety of tropical fish, tuna and turtles, and even sharks from the comfort of their rooms, or even from their private Jacuzzis, said Mr Jones.

There will be controls in each room that guests can use to adjust the lighting of the underwater worlds outside their windows and to release food for fish swimming just outside.

“They will enjoy five-star luxury accommodation, all with stunning views of the underwater world,” said the Florida-based entrepreneur.

He said he is currently signing on the last of the investors.

Mr Jones spent 17 years designing, refitting and selling submarines, and said he is confident the planned resort will become reality, probably sometime in 2006, even though a number of similar projects have foundered in the past.

A separate undersea project is planned for off Dubai, the 220-suite Hydropolis resort.

However Mr Jones said Hydropolis’ planned tariff of US$500 per night is unrealistic, with Poseidon guests to be charged three times that amount.

“It’s an economic reality. We couldn’t do it and make a profit for less,” he said.

He said there is a tremendous amount of interest in the subsea world, and that such a move would in fact help protect underwater environments.

“By doing this we can entertain people, but also educate people and promote environmental stewardship,” he said.

“Only in really experiencing what it’s like underwater can you really motivate somebody to protect the natural resources of the sea.”

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