Scores of luxury hotels debut all over the globe each year. While every shiny new development strives to shatter the industry’s gold standard in terms of services and amenities, some aim to stand out from the pack in a far more daring way, putting on ostentatious architectural masks molded out of ingenuity and ambition, glazed with a touch of crazy.
The following soon-to-be lodges—from a waterfront resort meant to emulate the shape of microscopic sea creatures, to a flashy new “coconut” ripening in Dubai—defy design conventions to the extreme, showcasing whimsical, outré shells unlike any other.
#1: The ‘Loopy’ Olympian
In anticipation of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Seoul-based architecture firm Planning Korea has designed a one-of-a-kind seaside resort in Gangneung, inspired by the ecological structure of plankton.
The building—best described as a rectangular figure eight—will rest on the shore of the East Sea. A combination of condominiums and hotel suites (with 946 rooms total), the glossy development—designed to optimize occupants’ views of the water and surrounding mountains with two crisscrossing slopes rimmed with gardens—will feature a massive four-seasons pool at its belt, situated beneath an LED-lit ceiling that can double as a media facade.
Sited on a 29,493-square-meter lot just half a kilometer from the Games’ soon-to-be stadiums, it’ll offer accommodations to Olympic participants and attendees, and serve as a venue for some of the event’s conventions.
A tiny “village” showcasing low-level duplex accommodations—meant to echo Hanok, a traditional form of Korean housing—will also lie at the foot of the building, peppered with pools, shops, and eateries.
#2: The Semi-Submarine ‘Cave’
About 22 miles from Shanghai’s city center rests an old quarry in the satellite city of Songjiang, near the base of Tianmenshan Mountain. Long abandoned, the 295-foot-deep, water-filled pit is undergoing a serious facelift, with a luxury hotel currently being embedded into its towering cliffside.
“Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental”—planned to become one of IHG’s flagships in China—will consist of 380 rooms spanning 19 stories (including a couple of submarine levels that will contain an aquarium, restaurant, and guest suites), with only two floors protruding above the crag’s surface.
Completely integrated into the surrounding naturescape, theAtkins-designed “cave hotel”—scheduled to debut sometime this year—resembles a lush hill draped with a glassy “waterfall” (a slyly-disguised central atrium that links the quarry’s base to the ground level), positioned across from a genuine cascade located on the other end of the quarry.
Complementing the lake at its base, the five-star lodge’s lowest floor will consist of a water sports and leisure complex, while an outdoor sports hub cantilevered over the quarry will offer more extreme activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping. To boot, the project will boast a bevy of sustainable traits; topped with a “green roof,” it’ll harvest solar energy via photovoltaic panels and extract geothermal energy from the earth.
#3: The Armored ‘Block’
Casino gaming and resorts developer Melcro Crown Entertainment has tapped Zaha Hadid—world-famous for her uber-eccentric, out-of-this-world creations—to design the fifth hotel tower in the City of Dreams (the firm’s flagship property in Cotai, Macau).
Slated to open in early 2017, the peculiar 40-floor structure—a sculptural monolithic block encased in an exposed exoskeleton, with two artery-like bridges stretching across its hollowed core—will house around 780 guestrooms, suites, and sky villas, plus a sky pool, lounge, and spa on top of a mix of restaurants and meeting/event spaces.
Planned to showcase a 98-foot-high lobby atrium with a crystalline interior, the eclectic development will likely outshineCrown Towers, presently regarded as the resort’s premier accommodation (other lodging locales in the kaleidoscopic “city”—home to “House of Dancing Water,” the largest water-based theatrical production on the globe—include the Grand Hyatt Macau and Hard Rock Hotel).
#4: The ‘Coolest’ of the Bunch
Poised at the site of a historical cement mining pit and lake in the Hunan province’s capital of Changsha, Coop Himmelb(lau)’sDawang Mountain Resort will contain a one-of-a-kind “ice and snow world” (complete with its own indoor ski slope), water park, commercial hub, and upscale hotel once it’s finished.
Spread across approximately 1.3 million square feet, the complex will tout a rather unusual centerpiece in the form of a “sculpted shell” spanning 558 feet from one side of the quarry to another, marked by a “central glass cone” designed to funnel natural light onto the sunken and hanging gardens and tiny isles nestled beneath the translucent structure.
A separate 328-foot-high tower will stand at the south end of the development—the designated site of a soon-to-be five-star hotel comprised of 270 single- and double-bed guestrooms, plus 60 executive suites (with access to an exclusive lounge), and a six-room presidential pad—all overlooking vistas of Tongxi Lake, Dawang Mountain, and the Ice World below.
The curvaceous building—which evokes the image of a cylindrical mold of jelly petrified into glass in the midst of wobbling—will have a spacious lobby leading to a restaurant and bar on its first level. Versatile conference spaces will sit on level two, while beauty, spa, and fitness facilities will occupy its third story.
#5: The Palm’s Billion-Dollar ‘Coconut’
Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah will soon bear yet another pricey piece of “fruit,” with the manmade archipelago—one of three artificial islands in the UAE city—plotting to add yet another item to its long list of lodges by 2017.
Dubbed “The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences,” Kerzner International’s up-and-coming hotel—an extension of the already-existing Atlantis, The Palm—will soar 46 stories into the air above the isle’s crescent, a coconut’s throw away from its pink predecessor.
Conceptualized by New York-based architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the building—a “porous,” watch link-shaped development (or aimlessly-stacked Lego creation)—will feature 800 hotel rooms on top of 250 luxury homes, many of which will come with private outdoor expanses graced with pools and gardens.
Sporting an estimated cost of $1.4 billion, the sweet resort—whose interiors will be dressed by London-based company GA Design—is being touted as a “foodie paradise,” with several upscale restaurants (led of course by award-winning chefs) inked into its blueprint, on top of an assortment of retail spots. One of the structure’s coolest components is undoubtedly its sky pool, set to sit 295 feet off the ground near its median.