Floating Hotels to Meet Rising Tides

Jun 2014

How soon will rising tides start to have an effect on coastal resorts and cities? Does safety from tidal flooding ever figure into your travel plans? While we are not normally traveling to resorts during their rough weather seasons, how many of us even thought about a tsunami before seeing the deadly waves destroying so much land around the Indian Ocean in 2004?   Rising tides will eventually put any number of hotels perched on the shore at risk of succumbing to flooding or worse.  One new wave designer has come up with a sustainable solution for the future.  These floating ARKS are addressing the very real issue of climate change.

floating ark

The structures are self sustaining and might be a great solution.  Built around a central pillar, the systems run on the power of solar, wind and thermal energy which generates electricity. Remizov, the Russian architect behind the new age design, has spec’d a self cleaning foil for the exterior that would be more durable than glass.  Metal profiles which collect rainwater would act as the ribs of the dome and the indoor jungle would create it’s own microclimate.  Floating through rising sea levels, the independent ARK starts the conversation about alternative living space as the tides continue to rise in the face of extreme climate change.


The concept of this design is certainly interesting.  I was surprised when I began my research, that I was unable to find more information about hotels addressing this topic.  In the mean time, I am taking a bit of a tongue in cheek look at hotels already built which might be able to make it through the rising tides that are flowing in the current weather patterns.  As people are traveling more and the world is becoming smaller and smaller, unusual hotels are appearing everywhere.


Aqua Expeditions has introduced the Aria for trips down the Amazon. Spacious and indulgent, yet intimate enough to feel entirely exclusive, the 16-cabin Aria Amazon incorporates extremely generous space for all aboard, including an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking the Amazon’s riverviews. The striking matte black hulled ship can accommodate a maximum of 32 guests plus 24 crew including the paramedic and four English speaking naturalist guides. Aqua Expeditions highly experienced cruise ship captain and crew and the Aqua Expedition’s rigorous cruise ship standards ensure smooth travel and safety on the waters of the Amazon. Supporting local communities, the owners work hard to insure travel is sustainable and guests are able to have a front row seat to much of the wildlife the Amazon has to offer.

salt sill sweden

In 2008, Sweden’s first floating hotel opened alongside the well know farm to table restaurant Salt & Sill.  With 46 beds, the year round, award winning property illustrates a strong influence of coast and ocean while offering the use of indigenous raw materials.  The floating hotel allowed owners Susanna and Patrick Hermansson to complete their dream of offering food, drink and accommodation built around the peaceful island of Kladesholmen.

20-4-2012, alblasserdam, apecolodge foto rob kamminga

The Marijn Beije floating eco lodge was designed to put people more in touch with nature. The construction of the accommodation allows the dweller to sit directly on top of a body of water or nestle snugly into the branches of a tree.The sustainable retreat was built using FSC-certificated wood, and features four places to sleep, plus a kitchen area, toilet, shower, two terraces for relaxing, rooftop hammock and a crow’s nest for bird watching. The retreat also features solar panels and LED lighting throughout. The sleeping quarters are furnished with two beds that face out onto the river, where the large curved floor-to-ceiling windows allow guests to star gaze while being gently rocked to sleep.

The floating eco-logde has been built with durability in mind and is weather resistant so it can withstand the elements. Compact in size, the lodge can easily be transported and immersed into a diverse range of landscapes without disrupting the surrounding environment. While it’s probably not a great idea to let the house free-float along a river, the lodge would be best suited to being connected to a pontoon or fixed jetty. If you’re not so fond of floating on the riverbank, perhaps you’d prefer to perch the lodge high amid the treetops – as suggested by Beije, the retreat can easily be transformed into a fully self-contained treehouse or the perfect bird watching hut.


I wasn’t  sure about including this resort, but it was so unusual, and looks like it has quite a ways to go before the tide would be high enough to damage it, I decided to give it a go.  The Spitfire Fort, situated in the English waters, is a get away from it all secluded hotel. If you’re in England looking for an unusual stay, there’s no quicker way to transport yourself into the lap of luxury than to take a trip to this permanently docked pier.  The Spitfire Fort is located about a mile from the Portsmouth Harbor in Hampshire, England and guests are able to reach it with a ferry. Spitfire’s previous incarnation was as a strategic military position to defend again French attacks. Even if you’re not from England, this luxury hotel offers a completely distinct experience that I am sure some people will be quickly adding to their personal bucket lists. Staying there would be a conversation starter.


High above any rising tides you’ll find the world’s first spherical tree house hotel  in the rain forests of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where customers can be suspended 15 ft up in the air. Built by Canadian-born Tom Chudleigh, the ‘Free Spirit Spheres’ are made of beautifully carved wooden exteriors, while two round fiberglass windows give temporary residents an undulating view of the woodland around them as they are rocked to sleep by the wind. The three spherical tree houses, can be entered into by a flight of stairs that open up into a remarkable interior that almost resembles the inside of a boat cabin. The tree houses are intended for two-person occupancy and come in different sizes, each with its own unique view. A normal gentle rocking moves with the wind and the trees.  The only drawback is the facilities are housed in another building below.  I was excited to find this property, as my family is heading to Vancouver Island this summer.  Whether or not the rest of the group will agree to the location, is another story.


Australia’s Boatel is a new concept in river housing for the country.  Visitors have likened it to a luxury hotel on the water and relaxation and enjoyment are at the top of the list.  On glance and you will know that the Boatel is a total re-design of the normal boat concept.  The sleek, modern construction insures that visitors will not miss a thing when it comes to viewing scenery along the route.

Getaways have become a bit more interesting with the increase of unusual hotels all around the world. A relaxing vacation can can go in a completely different direction when your place of stay is inside of a mobile bus inn or rocky ravine. With ecotourism falling into one of the fastest growing categories of travel, hotels will have to continue to expand their offerings to meet this demand.  Obviously from the above examples, designs continue to get more and more unusual.  It remains to be seen whether coastal safety will be part of the long term  discussion around the world.  Personally I’d prefer to see the focus more on sustainability and less on gimmicks, allowing guests to enjoy nature while blending with the environment.

Would I find you staying in any of these hotels?

All photos via the linked website of the hotel unless otherwise noted.  

  1. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see a rapid increase in the number of companies that start to participate in this industry. With rising tides, it is inevitable that companies are going to be on the lookout for other options and these eco-friendly accommodation alternatives are surely a way out for them. I would be interested to see the real cost of these though and how that is going to trickle down to the consumer.

    With the Maldives in particular looking like they will not be around for too much longer because of rising sea levels, maybe these companies will see that part of the world as a great spot to really begin utilizing these floating hotels.

    • alison says:

      Chris-I certainly hope everyone starts to wake up regarding this subject. The Maldives are definitely on my list of “must see”, I can’t imagine that they’re long term future looks very promising.

  2. I suppose we’ve had floating hotels in the form of cuise ships for some time already, so perhaps this is inevitable.

    I see there is a floating hotel proposed for the World Cup when it is in Qatar (if indeed it takes place at that venue, what with all the allegation of corruption). The idea there was that the hotel would then (after the WC) move on to the locations of other major events (sporting or otherwise) around the world.

    • alison says:

      Paul- you are right about cruise ships, but as I understand it, as a category they are one of the worst polluters around. I read about the Qatar hotel, it will be interesting to see if it becomes a reality.

  3. Such unusual-looking hotels! Yes, we’d stay in them – as we don’t like cookie-cutter hotels. It’s hard to imagine a future where climate change dictates the design of a hotel. So sci-fi – and yet probably just around the corner…

    • alison says:

      They certainly are not cookie cutter. I’m with you, i’d prefer to stay in some place different. I understand they are trying to make a floating hotel for the next FIFA in Dubai? It will be interesting to see if it materializes.

  4. Tami says:

    First of all, I LOVE this reply form–very clever! Secondly, I think it would really be fun to try out all the resorts you’ve listed. Expecially the dangling treehouse!