MANILA, Philippines—Imagine an underwater hotel room with a panoramic view of tropical fish swimming over large coral reefs, manta rays gliding in the water and turtles chasing after tiny squids.
Science fiction? Not if businessman Paul Moñozca can help it.
Moñozca, a Singapore-based financier who heads a group of international investors, plans to start a futuristic underwater resort off the island of Palawan as part of an aggressive venture into the ecotourism business.
The project, dubbed “Last Frontier Resort,” is expected to bring in a total of $1 billion in investments spread over a 10-year period—an average of $100 million a year which, its proponents hope, will help create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the Palawan.
Moñozca—known for his advocacies of helping improve the overseas remittance business, acquiring stakes in the US professional basketball league and junior circuit stock car racing teams—is the main driver of the project.
His Monaco-based philanthropic fund, dubbed “Spirit,” plays a lead role in the development of marine habitats and ocean protection initiatives.
The Last Frontier Resort will be built with submarine technology. When completed, the proposed underwater habitat will be the biggest in the world.
The project has been in the planning stage since last year, and its proponents have identified a group of islands in the Calamianes cluster as the site for development.
The site is owned by businessman and resort developer Steve Tajanlangit. It is made up of a group of seven islands in close proximity to each other, and another group of seven islands outside the main cluster.
The resulting 14-island project will be the largest of its kind in the world.
The first phase calls for semi-submersible units called “Sea Spiders,” which will be built by a US firm that specializes on submarines, to serve as observation decks. Each sea spider can accommodate 30 tourists.
To rival similar projects such as the underwater resorts of Dubai, Fiji and the Caribbean, the second phase calls for a 100-room underwater hotel in partnership with a high-end boutique hotel brand spread over the cluster of seven islands.
Suite-size rooms will have a 270-degree view of the ocean underwater with 20-to 40-meter visibility. These rooms will be connected by underwater corridors. A further 85 rooms will be built on another cluster of seven islands.
Project proponents chose the pristine islands of Palawan because of its recent standing as a quake-free zone and its clear and cove-protected waters.
One of the site’s islands sits adjacent to the Calauit Nature Reserve. The islands nearby are ideal jump-off points for scuba diving.
“The blue print encompasses a strict adherence to protect the environment and the biodiversity of Palawan,” the group said in a statement.
“Groups of scientists from the Philippines and around the globe are part of the project’s protective strategy especially focused on its long stretches of coral reefs which have previously encountered illegal dynamite and cyanide fishing,” it added.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines serves as financial adviser to the project, which developers expect to be completed by 2013.
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We are an international non-profit organization with members in over 60 countries, spanning 6 continents with 1 mission; healthy aquatic ecosystems free from human abuse and neglect. Oceanic Defense teaches people to protect our oceans by acting responsibly as consumers and by making smart decisions in our daily lives. Whether we are buying groceries, commuting to work, planning a vacation or advocating within our own communities; each action we take or decision we make either helps or hurts our oceans. We empower people to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and work together to protect our blue planet.
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