Paradise in the Gulf of Mexico?

April 1, 2009 1:33:18 PM PDT
Pack your bags. It's off to the oil rig. Not quite for this summer, but an aging Gulf platform could one day be a Gulf paradise. You can see them in the distance from our shoreline, or probably know a neighbor who works on one.

"You see what it looks like, but don't know what it would be like," said travel agent Sandra Ortiz.

Oil rigs are sort of a part of our distant Houston skyline. But they've never really been much to look at or visit.

Until now.

There's a plan -- an award winning design actually -- from a Houston architect to turn abandoned rigs into luxury hotels.

"It's a hotel on an oil rig," said Douglass Oliver with Morris Architects. "It's a little surprising."

And Oliver is the guy who designed it.

Oliver tells us a team at Morris Architects entered a competition to come up with the most radical new idea for hospitality. Converting a deep sea rig into a luxury hotel with fancy rooms and a massive pool, a roof top deck, all powered with windmills and wave energy was this year's most radical idea.

"The whole point is a little bit of high drama," said Oliver.

And while no one's stepped forward with the cash to build it, our focus group of seasoned travel agents seemed to think they could sell it.

"I like it," said travel agent Linda De Sosa.

"Something that nobody else has done before," added travel agent Jackie Cutler.

"I think there are people who would be very interested in it," said Ortiz.

The rig hotel's been compared to Richard Branson's space tourism or the annual ice hotel in Sweeden. There are some questions.

"That's a little concerning," said Ortize, looking at a sketch of the hotel in the midst of a storm.

Storms are an undeniable part of life in the Gulf. So yes, the rig hotel would have to be evacuated a few times a year.

And how do you get there?

That's where the helipad comes in and designers think cruise ships or pleasure boats could sail up, too. It's intriguing, especially considering the fact so many of these rigs will soon run out of oil to pump out of their wells.

"Everyone's asking when it's going to open," said Oliver.

The idea has gotten a surprising amount of worldwide interest, especially because of the green nature of the project ? recycling an oil rig that can be used for a greener purpose.

The project was actually a brainstorm of a group of designers at Morris Architects. At first it was more for the competition than a serious design. But they've had so much interest, the designers would love to meet with an oil company.

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