In China, a hotel group has achieved what until recently seemed impossible mission: to go down to the mine is a most gratifying and glamorous experience. To achieve such a milestone, they have had to pull architectural ingenuity, patience and wallet to finish the construction of a five-star hotel 88 meters deep in an abandoned quarry.
The road to finish this project has not been easy. During the twelve years that the works lasted, its construction faced a succession of technical problems that delayed it again and again. Nor can it boast of being a cheap work, since its promoters had to disburse some 2 billion yuan (255.5 million euros) to see it concluded.
But all that seemed to be in the background a few weeks ago, when the complex opened its doors for the first time to the public with the simplest room at around 470 euros a night. Given the avalanche of reservations received and the good reviews reaped, it seems that the effort has been worthwhile.
"It's a high price, but we think it's worth spending because it's a unique hotel that you can not see anywhere else," said retired Bao Lihua, one of the first guests to enjoy the site, the South China Morning newspaper. Post "People my age think it's a unique place that we should visit at least once in our life," he added.
Of the 18 floors of the structure, 16 are underground, with two floors submerged in the water
This "rascasuelos", as it has been popularly named, is located about 30 kilometers from the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, in the vicinity of Mount Sheshan. Of the 18 floors that the structure has, 16 are underground, with two of those plants totally submerged under water. At that level, guests can indulge in the palate by eating in the restaurant, relaxing in the spa or relaxing in rooms facing a ten-meter-deep aquarium.
In addition to 336 dependencies in which the price of the most expensive reaches 770 euros per night, the complex also includes recreational facilities, sports, rock climbing and a platform for practicing gin. But apart from the interior amenities, what is most surprising are the exterior views, which include part of the ravines of the old site -which closed in 2000 due to the new environmental regulations- and an artificial waterfall covered by a window that users can contemplate from the balconies of their rooms.
During its construction, the main challenge of the more than 5,000 architects, engineers and laborers who worked on the construction site was to avoid flooding the pit in which it is located. Not in vain, in 2013, a nearby river overflowed and filled the water quarry halfway. "If something similar had happened after the completion of the works, it would have been a terrible blow," Cheng Xiaoxiang, chief engineer of the real estate developer Shimao Property, told France Press. To prevent this from happening again, the architects had to build a dam, and they also chose to install a pumping station to regulate the water level.
"It's a completely new project, unrelated to what we know. We did not have references or experiences in which we could be inspired to solve the difficulties, "Cheng added.
As if all this were not enough, those responsible for its design say that this is an ecological project - abandoned quarries like this are often transformed into landfills - that has been designed to reduce the impact on their environment thanks to an extensive sustainability program It includes the generation of its own heating and lighting through the use of geothermal and solar energy.
"It is the first time that an abandoned quarry has become a wonderful underground hotel," underlined the British architect in charge of this work, Martin Jochman, who is also behind the luxurious Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai, famous for its structure similar to the sail of a ship. "It has been a unique opportunity that has given me some really interesting ideas of how to change the relationship between the city and nature," he added.
Digital Newspaper La Vanguardia