Versace, the renowned fashion house, is to create the world’s first refrigerated beach so that hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days.
The beach will be next to the the new Palazzo Versace hotel which is being built in Dubai where summer temperatures average 40C and can reach 50C.
The beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace, said he believed it is possible to design a refrigerated beach and make it sustainable. “We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on,” he said. “This is the kind of luxury that top people want.”
Hyder Consulting, a British construction consultancy, is overseeing the engineering on the project. The hotel will be marketed strongly in the UK where Dubai is a popular tourist destination, attracting about 800,000 Britons a year.
Abedian’s firm began its association with Versace a decade ago with the idea of creating the first chain of luxury fashion-branded lifestyle resorts.
The first Palazzo Versace is already operating on Australia’s Gold Coast – where Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, the actors, have stayed – and the Dubai hotel will be the second when it opens late next year or early 2010. The 10-storey hotel will have 213 rooms, several with their own internal swimming pools, plus 169 apartments. Fifteen more such hotels are planned.
Competition to serve the world’s rich is getting intense, especially in Dubai. The city already boasts the world’s first seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, while Armani, a competitor with Versace, is building a similarly branded Dubai hotel.
The refrigerated beach is designed to give Versace the edge in this battle of luxury lifestyles. The system will be controlled by thermostats linked to computers.
Versace’s plans have shocked environmentalists. Rachel Noble, the campaigns officer at Tourism Concern, which promotes sustainable tourism, said that the carbon generated by such projects would contribute to climate change, whose worst effects would be felt by the poor.
“Dubai is like a bubble world where the things that are worrying the rest of the world, like climate change, are simply ignored so that people can continue their destructive lifestyles,” she said.
Aided by cheap oil and gas, Middle Eastern nations have poured enormous resources into controlling temperature. About 60% of Dubai’s huge power bill is for air-conditioning; each person living there has a carbon footprint of more than 44 tons of CO2 a year.