Floating off the coast of northeastern Australia on the world’s largest coral reef system, you will find a sustainable lodging experience like no other. The Reefworld Pontoon is Australia’s first underwater hotel, located on the Great Barrier Reef which is globally renowned for its breathtaking assortment of coral and aquatic life.
The idea for this groundbreaking property began with CEO of Journey Beyond tourism group, Chris Tallent. From there the design and architecture teams hit the ground running, finishing the project’s development and building in only 14 months. Appropriately dubbed Reefsuites, this hotel is the only existing opportunity to sleep underwater on the Great Barrier Reef and unsurprisingly, guests from all over the world come to experience it for themselves.
Selecting the Right Materials
Although this drifting paradise was completed in a little over a year, the team behind it cut no corners. Tactical thought needed to be put into every detail of this incredible hotel to ensure its long term success. One of the challenges that arose in the planning stages of a property like this was Mother Nature herself, presenting a need for premium materials that can endure the sometimes harsh reef environment. This made the decision to incorporate Sunbrella performance fabrics a no-brainer. “Being exposed to the elements, we needed materials that were good quality and were hardy” says a spokesperson for Journey Beyond. “We also wanted a natural colour scheme so as not to take away from the natural beauty surrounding the Reefworld pontoon.”
Using neutral palettes, the Reefworld Pontoon was designed to blend in – as much as a floating hotel can – with its gorgeous surroundings. Sunbrella fabrics in natural tones were used as part of the plan for the pontoon to complement the Great Barrier Reef, and not distract from its natural beauty.
Rooted in Sustainability
Being located on an endangered reef inspired the Reefworld Pontoon to take sustainable initiatives seriously in order to prevent damage to the already weakened landscape. Journey Beyond is dedicated to protecting the reef and takes many precautionary measures accordingly. Silverware cutlery and china crockery is used onboard to avoid single-use plastics. Each passenger fare includes a ‘reef levy,’ which is a fee imposed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and used to protect the reef through education initiatives.
As a result of the pontoon’s renovation, almost 4,000 pieces of coral were replanted onto the existing reef wall over the course of a week, accomplishing the largest natural coral transplant to ever be achieved on the Great Barrier Reef!
Produced through a sustainable manufacturing process, Sunbrella fabrics usage is another example of the sustainable steps taken aboard the pontoon, as they are made with techniques that reduce water and energy consumption. Sunbrella also repurposes fiber waste and fabrics where possible. Durability and cleanability are Sunbrella properties that also reduce replacement waste in landfills, proudly contributing to Reefworld’s sustainable initiatives.
One of a Kind Experience
Sleeping under the stars has never been more comfortable, thanks to new ‘Reefbeds’ that present a remarkable opportunity to experience sleeping in style above the water and under the night sky. The above deck Reefsleep experience offers a premium modification of the underwater Reefsuite accommodation. “Being 40 nautical miles from the mainland and one of a small group of guests overnighting on the reef is truly a memorable experience” notes a Journey Beyond spokesperson. “The new ‘Reefbeds’ are stylish yet practical and the underwater Reefsuites are unlike any other accommodation in the country.”
Understandably, guests come from all over the world to experience an unforgettable adventure on the Great Barrier Reef aboard the Reefworld Pontoon. If you’ve ever imagined what it would be like to sleep surrounded by marine life, this is the stay for you.
To learn more about where Sunbrella can be found in remarkable properties around the world, check out Sunbrella Finds a Sustainable Home at the &Beyond Tengile River Lodge and Sunbrella Shows Its Versatility in Alila Hotels & Resorts Around the World. To see more inspired design content, follow @Sunbrella on social channels!