The Next Big Thing: the floating hotel | Design Home

The Next Big Thing: the floating hotel

To protect the tourism industry in the Maldives from climate change, an Italian designer has come up with an unusual proposal.


Getaway destination of choice for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the Maldives is undoubtedly one of the world’s most luxurious holiday destinations, but that status is under threat. Some 80 per cent of its islands that are less than four feet above sea level and the government has expressed concerns that climate change-induced increases in sea levels could submerge much of the nation.

Maldives+floating+hotel (1)

Plans are already being put in place to protect the tourism industry, with Italian designer Michele Puzzolante of MPD Designs having released proposals for the development of solar-powered floating villas that would serve as holiday accommodation in place of the country’s current resorts.

Titled Solar Floating Island, his concept is comprised of floating pontoons that can be tethered together to form a complete holiday destination. It would include conference rooms, dining and drinking spaces, a spa and boutique, staff quarters and a marina in addition to various luxury suites. Puzzolante estimates the entire development could be built for $145 million (£87 million).


Individual villas would include outdoor decking, dining facilities and, most impressively, an underwater “observation bulb” that would allow guests to admire surrounding sea life while ensconced in the villa. Such a feature is already a reality elsewhere: the Manta Underwater Room in Zanzibar is partially underwater, with guest sleeping in a bedroom that stands 13ft below the surface of the Indian Ocean.

Puzzolante claims the Maldivian government is supportive of his proposals to make the Solar Floating Island a reality, but other plans to construct hotels that are found partially underwater have been beset by problems. Assertions by the firm Deep Ocean Technology to construct Water Discus, an underwater hotel, in Dubai have yet to come to fruition. For other audacious holiday resorts that may or may not see the light of day, see our guide to the hotels of the future.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

HS Room by Room

2025 Design Trends HS

Hospitality Interior Design Book


2025 Design Trends HS Popup