"We get calls from people all the time who are thinking of developing underwater habitats," said Steven Miller, director of the National Undersea Research Center, which operates Aquarius, the world's only operating undersea research station off the coast of Key Largo. "We help when we can but usually these projects never end up happening."
Considering the track record of undersea hotel proposals, is there reason to be hopeful that wealthy adventure-seekers will be able to check into Jones' Poseidon Undersea Resort by 2006, as he expects? If there is, it's Jones' success with another underwater attraction -- the submarine.
After growing up with a grandfather in the marine construction business, Jones quickly got a feel for the water. He started diving at age 9, wrote letters to Cousteau in grade school and, by the 1980s, began doing consultations for those interested in the submarine business. By 1993, he was running his own company, U.S. Submarines, which designs and builds submarines for resorts and individuals.
His company features luxurious submarines ranging in price from $1 million to $80 million. Having been in the business for while, Jones claims he has a realistic sense of what it takes to launch an underwater venture. As he says, when it comes to meeting regulations for his submarine fleet, "The paperwork ends up weighing as much as the submarine."
For his part, Craig Cooper, the operations director for the Aquarius research station, hopes at least one of the latest string of project proposals comes to fruition.
"By now I envisioned we'd have entire underwater cities," Cooper said. "It's about time some of these visions became reality."