Asia’s first underwater resort hotel to be built off Palawan

Fishing in the Maldives
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Coral World Park off Palawan

MANILA, Philippines—The country is all set to embrace a futuristic undersea project to rival those in Maldives, Dubai and Fiji, according to a Filipino team of developer and architects, which is set to build an underwater resort hotel in Palawan.

Dubbed as the Coral World Park, this multibillion-peso project will set the record as Asia’s first underwater resort development and the biggest undersea living in the world once the project is completed by 2013.

Picture this: You wake up to a picture perfect view of frivolously swimming manta rays and fishes or hold a meeting in a restaurant submerged in the pristine waters. Say what? All this isn’t science fiction according to an all-Filipino team behind the project.

Taking the helm is Singapore-based businessman Paul Moñozca, who is known for his advocacies of helping Filipino sports teams and the overseas remittance business. Partnering with Moñozca is renowned eco-architect Jose “Pinggoy” Mañosa, who will take charge of the architectural design of the Coral World Park.

“It’s high time we brought sustainable development underwater because there have been similar projects elsewhere in the world that have been proven successful,” Moñozca told Inquirer Property in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

He cited global warming and the rising water levels as factors that pushed him to look into the possibility of exploring the readiness of the country for this kind of revolutionary development.

Pegged at some $150 million, the undersea structure takes pride in its 24 undersea suites or pods called “Anemones,” which are submerged 60 feet below sea level with a fascinating 270-degree view of the sea. The 15-foot-high Anemones will be built by a US firm that specializes in submarines.

Several units of these Anemones will be open for public viewing at reasonable rates while majority are for ownership. Each 50-square-meter Anemone (the size of two-bedroom condo unit) can be customized per owner’s preference. It can be used as a private villa, a receiving or entertainment room that could cater to as many as 15 people.

Filipino ingenuity

How can one move from one pod/suite to another? The Coral World Park will be built with submarine technology. The mode of transport will be through glass bottom mini-submarines to be powered by the first mobile hydropower system, which generates up to 1 megawatt of electricity. This will use a patented water recycling and pressure chamber invented by an all-Filipino team of engineers, Moñozca said.

“The project will show to the world Filipino ingenuity as 80 percent of the project will be run and manned by Filipinos, from engineers to architects down to personnel,” Moñozca said. When completed, the proposed underwater habitat will be the biggest in the world.

Also part of the futuristic project is a 50-bedroom onland boutique hotel complete with amenities like casinos, spa, business center and an underwater restaurant to be named “Starfish,” which could seat as many as 200 people in its 600-square-meter dining area. A seahorse-shaped science center aptly called “Seahorse Science Center” will be built for tourists and will serve as the park’s marine observatory and conservation center showcasing the richness of marine life in the Philippines.

The project is expected to pour in billions of investments and will help create thousands of jobs for the people in Palawan and neighboring provinces.

Conservation tourism

Funding will come from Moñozca’s Monaco-based group, which counts investors from the United States, the Middle East and Russia. As an aggressive venture in ecotourism business, the project also aims to replenish the coral reefs in the area and would advocate conservation tourism in the country.

Moñozca related that everything has been in the planning stage since last year. He identified a group of islands in Coron as the site for development owing to its perfect geography, clear and cove-protected waters and rich marine life. The islands of Palawan hardly experience earthquakes and are not prone to visiting typhoons that occasionally hit the country.

The construction is set to start soon and will be completed in two years, according to Mañosa, who said this would be “my biggest project so far in my professional career.” Mañosa is behind some of the biggest projects like the San Miguel Building constructed in the 1980s and the Brent International School.

“I was overwhelmed myself when the project was offered to me. Even my family is excited about this; my grandchildren are asking when they could visit the underwater resort,” Mañosa said.

The group dispelled fears of security as the whole resort will be tightly guarded. The proponents also envision a cashless system of transaction as everything will be made via specially issued bracelet cards similar to the function of a credit card.

The group promised strict adherence to protect the environment and the biodiversity of Palawan. They said no marine life will be harmed during the course of its construction to its operations.

By Emman Cena Philippine Daily Inquirer

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