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Holidaying in a floating pyramid

By Arif Ahmad for CNN
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(CNN) -- If you think an extravagant five-star skyscraper, beach side resort or cliff-side villa is the ultimate hotel experience, then think again. Prepare for a new dimension in luxury lodging ... floating pyramids.

Oceanic-Creations, a Swedish based company, has unveiled plans to build floating commercial and residential buildings around the world with the help of a new composite material.

The company's first major project -- the Maya Hotel -- is estimated to cost around $209 million and will be located south of Cancun, Mexico, on the Caribbean Sea.

"We have a lot of hopes about the future. We have more customers than actual production right now," said Ronny Nordell, an engineer and co-founder of the project, which plans to construct hotels, casinos, island cities and even movable vacation villages.

The floating buildings will be built with an unique plastic composite material, which is normally used in the defense industry and will feature built-in insulation that makes the constructions suitable for all types of climate, from the freezing cold to extreme heat. The material, which the maker says is up to six times lighter and 10 times stronger than steel depending on the reinforcement material, can also cut maintenance costs by 30 to 40 percent.

"They don't break easily and are much easier to maintain," said Ronny Nordell.

There are already plans underway to build student housing with the technology especially in congested places where there is a lack of space to build. The company is set to focus on emerging markets such as the United Arab Emirates where the interest for the technology has been very strong.

"This material will prove very cost-effective for places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi who work a lot with landscaping and usually use sand and mud to build," said Stefan Holmgren, head of international marketing.

"The good thing for us is that there are many cities that don't have a real solution to what do with their water. We will give them those solutions," he said, adding that the company has received interest for the material from as far as China and the Far East.

Nordell, who previously worked for Kockums, a Swedish marine company that invented the technology, said he tried to get permission to use the special composite technology as early as 1986 but got rejected by the Swedish government because it was considered a defense secret and used for military purposes.

"I tried again in 2002, thinking the Cold War is over now and it worked," he said.

Oceanic-Creations struck a deal with Kockums last autumn, which gives the company the exclusive rights to use Kockums' composite technology to build the floating constructions and similar products for 20 years.

To date, $6.5 million has been invested in the venture and the company is currently planning how to finance its future operations. The fact that the recipe for the composite material is secret gives Oceanic-Creations a significant competitive advantage, said Ronny Nordell.

He added, the production will initially kick-off from facilities in Varna, Bulgaria, which is strategically located on the Black Sea to make it easy to transport everything.

In addition to the Maya Hotel in Mexico, the ventures other projects will also include a floating wind tunnel that will be placed outside New York. The wind tunnel will enable people to recreate skydives without actually jumping out of an airplane.

"We have big aspirations," said Nordell. "There are a lot of people interested in us now compared to when we started. There weren't many who believed in it then," he said.


The Maya Hotel is expected to open to the public by 2010.

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