Tuesday, March 6, 2007

FLORIDA: Key Largo - Jules' Undersea Lodge.

When guests visit Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, they discover that the name is no marketing gimmick. Just to enter the Lodge, one must actually scuba dive 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea. Jules’ really is underwater. Diving through the tropical mangrove habitat of the Emerald Lagoon and approaching the world’s only underwater hotel is quite an experience. Even from the outside, Jules’ big 42 inch round windows cast a warm invitation to come in and stay a while, relax and get to know the underwater world that so few of us have even visited.

Entering through an opening in the bottom of the habitat, the feeling is much like discovering a secret underwater clubhouse. The cottage sized building isn’t short on creature comforts: hot showers, a well stocked kitchen (complete with refrigerator and microwave), books, music, and video movies. And of course there are cozy beds, where guests snuggle up and watch the fish visit the windows of their favorite underwater “terrarium”. Jules’ Undersea Lodge manages to reach a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.

Guests sometimes describe their visit to inner space as the most incredible experience of their lives. One couple decided on a career change after visiting Jules’ Undersea Lodge, and they now operate Aquanauts’ Dive Shop. Another couple named their baby after Jules’, when they later discovered their recently conceived child had accompanied them in their wonderful adventure in undersea living.

Although the underwater hotel may sound like the latest tourist fun spot, Jules' Undersea Lodge, actually began its existence as La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater habitat used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. The authenticity of the underwater habitat is what really sets it apart from amusement parks and other similar attractions. The mangrove lagoon in which Jules' is located is a natural nursery area for many reef fish. Tropical angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers peek in the windows of the habitat, while anemones, sponges, oysters and feather duster worms seem to cover every inch of this underwater world. Guests of the Lodge explore their marine environment with scuba gear provided by Jules' Undersea Lodge and are given an unlimited supply of tanks. Jules' Undersea Lodge may have a comfortable futuristic decor, but its sense of history is inescapable. It is the first and only underwater hotel, but is also the first underwater research lab to have ever been made accessible to the average person.

“Marine life is actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure”, explains Ian Koblick, owner and co-developer of the Lodge. “Jules’ Undersea 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 the technology of man and the beauty of nature.”

The entire structure of Jules’ Undersea Lodge is underwater, sitting up on legs approximately five feet off the bottom of the protected lagoon. The Lodge is filled with compressed air, which prevents the water from rising and flooding the rooms. A five by seven foot “moon pool” entrance in the floor of the building makes entering the hotel much like surfacing through a small swimming pool. Divers find themselves in the wet room, the center of three compartments that make up the underwater living quarters. The wet room, as the name implies, is where divers leave their gear, enjoy a quick hot shower and towel-off before entering the rest of the living area. Designed for comfort, the air conditioned living space has two private bed rooms and a common room. The eight by twenty foot common room is a multi-purpose room providing the galley, dining and entertainment areas. Each of the bedrooms and the common room is equipped with telephone, intercom, VCR/DVD and a stereo sound system. But the main focus of attention is the big 42 inch round window that graces each room. “Waking up to view a pair of angelfish looking in your bedroom window is a moment you'll never forget”, states Koblick.

Habitat operations are monitored by the Mission Director from the land-based “Command Center”, located at the edge of the Emerald Lagoon. The control center is connected to Jules’ Undersea Lodge by an umbilical cable which delivers fresh air, water, power, and communications. “The entire facility is monitored 24 hours a day by our staff”, says Koblick, “the Lodge has independent support systems as well as redundant backup systems. We’ve taken every step to ensure a safe yet exciting adventure for our guests”.

1 comment:

Nilesh Shukla said...

Hey nice post. Its raelly nice place in the world which is worth seeing.

Nilesh Shukla