Versace hotel's cool beach bugs greenie
THE Versace fashion house is to create the first refrigerated beach so that hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days.
The beach will be next to the Palazzo Versace hotel being built in Dubai, where summer temperatures average 40C and can reach 50C.
The beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
The scheme has infuriated environmentalists.
The revelation comes as more than 11,000 politicians, green campaigners and others gathered in Poznan, Poland, for the latest talks on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
However, Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace, said it was possible to design a refrigerated beach and make it sustainable.
"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," he said.
"This is the kind of luxury that top people want."
Mr Abedian's firm began its association with Versace a decade ago with the idea of creating the first chain of luxury, fashion-branded lifestyle resorts. The first Palazzo Versace is already operating on Australia's Gold Coast and the Dubai hotel will be the second when it opens late next year or early 2010.
The 10-storey hotel will have 213 rooms, several with their own internal swimming pools, plus 169 apartments. Fifteen more such hotels are planned.
Competition to serve the world's rich is getting intense, especially in Dubai. The city already boasts the world's first seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, while Armani, a competitor with Versace, is building a similarly branded hotel.
The refrigerated beach is designed to give Versace the edge in this battle of luxury lifestyles. The system will be controlled by thermostats linked to computers.
Versace's plans have shocked environmentalists. Rachel Noble, the campaigns officer at Tourism Concern, which promotes sustainable tourism, said the carbon generated by such projects would contribute to climate change, whose worst effects would be felt by the poor.
"Dubai is like a bubble world where the things that are worrying the rest of the world, like climate change, are simply ignored so that people can continue their destructive lifestyles," she said.