Hotels Underwater: Sleep with the fishes
The world's first and only underwater inn is the Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Fla. Guests scuba dive about 20 feet to enter the inn, which is a converted naval station. You enter through a pool and an air lock; once inside, you breathe and walk around normally. At night, escaping air creates a soothing, bubbling sound that is supposed to encourage your body to have an astonishingly restful sleep.
Typical rate is $375 a night, per person. As a rule, only certified divers can visit. But, for a fee, you can learn enough about diving to qualify to float down to the entrance. And for an extra charge, you can get an advanced diving certification during your stay. Breakfast and dinner are served at set times. The lodge typically hosts two couples. (jul.com)
Multi-room underwater hotels may be on the way. Four companies claim that they will open hotels underwater within the next few years in Fiji, Istanbul, Korea, and Dubai....
HotelChatter has been tracking many of these announcements and doesn't believe a word of them. Even if the hotels do materialize, they won't be for budget travelers. Room rates will start at about $1,500 a night.
Here's some info on these proposed hotels...[UPDATE Apr. 10: This post originally showed images of these underwater hotels.]
What: An underwater, seven-story hotel in Istanbul. Not yet officially named.
Where: Beneath the city center.[CORRECTION 3/25: This blog post mistakenly said Istanbul is the capital of Turkey. I regret the error.] Every room will have views of the ocean.
When: 2010 (supposedly)
Rate: $1,500 a night, and up
Name: Poseidon Undersea Resort
What: 24 rooms, about 40 feet below the surface of a lagoon. Designs keep shifting; according to a recent layout, the site will include a lagoon, an airstrip, and an elevator that will descend from the surface, beachfront bungalows to the underwater suites.
Where: Off the coast of Fiji
When: 2009 (supposedly)
Rate about $2,100 a night, but you'll probably have to book a package, such as $30,000 for a couple sharing a room for two nights, plus a five-night stay at a related resort above water.
What: Designed and built in Germany, it will be taken apart, moved to the waters off Dubai, and then rebuilt underwater into two parts: one part on the sea ground, and the other floating in the sea.
Where: 27 acres of seabed in Dubai
When: 2009, supposedly
Rate: Expected to be more than $1,000 a night. Not yet announced.
Name: To be announced, once it receives government approval
What: A luxury hotel 65 feet under the sea surface, with 200 suites.
Where: Gyeongju, South Korea, about 500 miles southeast of Seoul
Rate: To be announced.
Rome: The Forum's no longer free
For about a decade now, anyone in Rome could wander among the city's most famous ancient ruins, known by the shorthand "The Forum," for free. But starting next Monday, March 10,* entrance tickets will be required. The Forum will be included in the ticket covering the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It will cost 9 euro -- about $14, or more if there's some kind of special show going on. BUDGET TRAVEL TIP To skip the frequently long lines for entry to the Colosseum, buy your tickets at the Palatine box office (200 yards away, on Via di S. Gregorio 30). Once you have your ticket, you can proceed past the line and straight to the entry turnstiles. BUDGET TRAVEL TIP 2 If you're visiting in the peak season of July, you may want to prebook your tickets through Pierreci (011-39/06-3996-7700, pierreci.it) and pick them up directly at the Colosseum will-call window, but there's a $2 surcharge. I'm personally sorry to hear about this because the policy will discourage locals from visiting the site. Especially during the off-season, you would see Roman families spontaneously visiting the amazing grounds, mingling with tourists. On a brighter note, ... also on March 10, four rooms at the Emperor Augustus's palace on the Palatine hill will reopen to the public. The frescoes in the rooms, including his studio and main hall, have been magnificently restored, according to the Chicago Tribune. The stop is included in the Forum/Colosseum/Palatine ticket. *UPDATE 3/5, at 1pmET: I mistakenly typed March 8 instead of March 10 on first posting. [Photo: Courtesy of Eye of Einstein, via Flickr]
Beijing: Tremendous new airport terminal
Today, Beijing opened an enormous, multi-billion dollar airport terminal. Its two-mile-long concourse, linked by a shuttle train, and a new runway, will enable the airport to handle 24 million more people a year than before. The terminal's design is controversial. It is meant to evoke a dragon, with ceiling windows cut as though they were triangular scales. But at night, the terminal looks like something out of Star Trek. Merely a decade ago, ultramodern designs like the one were shunned by Maoists as bourgeois and un-authentically Chinese. In a twist, Americans visiting China this year will not be using this terminal. This year, U.S. and Canadian airlines will instead drop passengers off at to the other two older terminals, according to Reuters. Unless you're flying on an international carrier, such as Lufthansa, British Airways, and Air Canada, you probably won't see this terminal. However, all travelers, including Americans, will soon benefit from a new train, which zip travelers downtown in just about 15 minutes. This subway line opens later this spring. MORE At budgettravel.com/beijing2008 (Image: via Let's Visit Asia)
Oscars: Red carpet recap
Many of our favorite travel-inspiring films of 2007 were also winners at last night's 80th Annual Academy Awards: Once (original song), Ratatouille (animated feature), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (costume design), Atonement (score), and The Bourne Ultimatum (sound mixing and editing, film editing). The Coen brothers' blood-soaked thriller No Country for Old Men, shot primarily in western Texas, snagged four awards, but there aren't many scenes we'd suggest recreating… Want to know which opulent Left Bank restaurant was the model for Gusteau's in Ratatouille? The Dublin street where a young Czech pianist approaches an Irish musician in the sweet love story Once? Or the park that Sir Walter (Clive Owen) and Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) race through on horseback? Get the scoop on these locations and others where the award-winning films were shot (not necessarily where the stories are set!) by reading our latest Movie Quest installment. And check out the slide show starring our globetrotter, Bud Travel. RELATED Star Maps: Where Celebs Hang Out in L.A. and N.Y.C.
Best sunset ever—but no camera?
Photographer Adam Fernandez recently shared his tips on how to take better sunset photos, along with some of his own images that illustrate step by step how the tips work. Budget Travel staffers revealed their prettiest sunsets in response to February's masthead question, and then we put the question to our readers. We were wowed by the outpouring of readers' sunset photos and stories and created a slide show of some of the best. If you didn't have a camera handy to capture that perfect sunset, share your memories below. What was your best sunset ever? Image: Burnt Store Marina in southwest Florida (submitted by Budget Travel reader Shan Meils)