Planted securely on solid earth, it’s easy to forget that our humble planet’s surface is only 30 percent land. The rest, of course, is water. So with such an immense body of the stuff to explore, why should we limit our holiday getaways to terra firma? Why stay at a crash pad when you can opt instead for a splash pad? A number of visionary developers around the world have begun to build luxurious and fully equipped villas on – and even under – the water.
There’s no shortage of floating hideaways worth splashing out on, whether it be a Polynesian-themed bungalow or spaceship-shaped domicile. These amphibious residences will tickle the fancy of both the most adventurous maritime marveller and ardent landlubber. Dive right in, the water’s fine – but don’t forget an overnight bag.
Drawn up by European architects from the Kleindienst Group, The Floating Seahorse resorts in Dubai’s “Heart of Europe” development are truly a marvel of modern design. Situated just a short boat ride from the coast, each “seahorse” has three levels: an upper deck with a mini bar and Jacuzzi, a floor at sea level and – most impressively – an underwater level. From the submerged section, guests can peer out of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom and take in the breathtaking subterranean views of the Arabian Gulf. A riotously colourful coral garden attached to the bottom level’s ledge may even attract some actual seahorses looking for their own secluded shelter. Although the resorts are still under construction, there will eventually be a total of 90 such dwellings.
“The Fennell Residence belongs on the water; if it were built anywhere else it would make little sense,” says architect Robert Harvey Oshatz, the mastermind behind this stunning structure on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. At a glance, it’s easy to see why. The floating home’s curved lines appear to ebb and flow into one another, much like the river’s gentle tide. With western red cedar shingles and a Douglas fir deck outdoors, coupled with Brazilian cherry floors indoors, the home blends effortlessly into its natural surroundings. A sliding glass door opens out onto a bespoke deck, while the master bedroom overlooks the dining area and further beyond to the river. The living room boasts a floor-to-ceiling window, offering sweeping views of the river and perfectly framing the sunset to mark another tranquil day spent in an aquatic paradise.
“Why stay at a crash pad when you can opt instead for a splash pad?”
The next aquatic property on our list comes courtesy of Dutch developer New Living on Water. With an ultramodern design that bears resemblance to a spaceship, these pod-shaped properties offer an escape that feels worlds away from Earth, while still providing a quick route back to land via a car jetty attached to each unit. Remarkably, each residence comes equipped with an elevator, six-car garage, outdoor terrace, private dining room, underwater view and a pool (just in case the surrounding waters weren’t enough). Available in three sizes, these pods are also eco-friendly and are powered by renewable energy sources. Although they have been marketed towards Dubai residents, the properties are not bound by geographic location and can be sold to customers anywhere in the world, either individually or as part of a larger hotel unit.
Aside from the fact that floating houses aren’t something you see every day, the most unique aspect of this boathouse – designed by Singapore-based architect Dymitr Malcew – is that each unit is designed individually according to the location, climate and client’s preferences. Buoyed by a floating platform, these bespoke homes can easily be moved from one location to the next, and can also be “docked” at a marina or pier. An outdoor terrace that wraps around the sleek, modern home can be accessed via the master bathroom, living room and two further bedrooms. Ideal for nature lovers, the home’s glass walls offer an unrivalled view of the water, while seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor worlds.
“These amphibious residences will tickle the fancy of both the most adventurous maritime marveller and ardent landlubber”
For those desiring to explore the depths of their adventurous spirit, the Lovers Deep cruise to the bottom of the ocean is just the ticket. Offered by luxury property rental firm Oliver’s Travels, this submarine sports all the modern conveniences and comfort of a luxury hotel. You and your first mate will be joined on-board by a chef, personal butler and, of course, the captain. To set the mood de l’amour, a special aphrodisiac tasting menu proffers oysters, caviar and chocolate fondant. Guests can also arrange for rose petals to be scattered to surprise their beloved, and breakfast is served in bed with champagne. With your sweetheart’s arms wrapped around you and a wondrous view of deep-sea life, it will be some time before you start to miss dry land.
With its sparkling aquamarine waters and tropical climate, the Maldives is home to some of the world’s most spectacular and luxurious floating villas. Soneva Jani, a resort situated in a lagoon in the Indian Ocean, is no exception. The resort boasts 24 overwater villas, with ample space in between to afford guests the utmost in privacy and relaxation. The two-bedroom water retreat comes with a mini bar, retractable roof, upper and lower deck, pool and a slide dipping into the ocean. At night, the warm glow of the resort’s interior lighting is beautifully reflected onto the water’s surface. Those feeling a little peckish after swimming or simply lazing about under the sun need venture no further than the main guest building, The Gathering. This floating hub has a spa, library, wine cellar, retail space and restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood and pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven.
Holidaymakers travel great distances to come to Bora Bora, a tiny, 29 square kilometre island in French Polynesia that is world-renowned for its turquoise waters, lagoon and barrier reef. While Bora Bora is home to dozens of floating villas, Le Méridien resort has truly raised the bar. Its premium overwater bungalow, which can accommodate three people, overlooks Mount Otemanu – one of two peaks which form an ancient, extinct volcano. The bungalow’s design features playful tiki touches, like a wooden canopy bed and surfboard-shaped coffee table. An outdoor terrace allows guests to get as close to the Pacific Ocean as possible, and the blue-green waters seem to stretch endlessly towards the horizon.
Text: Emily Petsko