Do you always look for the unique, the most interesting, and the most different, when traveling? Does a normal hotel in the middle of a city sound boring and mundane? Combine these feelings with a love of water, and the floatel may be the answer to your calling. As space on land becomes increasingly scarce, hoteliers are looking to other frontiers for expansion opportunities. Floating hotels, or floatels, have been cropping up all over the globe, from exotic locations like Thailand to metropolitan areas like New York City.
Dive into the fantastic world of floatels with these top picks.
Soneva Gili, Maldives
The islands that make up the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are already a breathtaking destination, but staying at the Soneva Gili will add that extra element to make your vacation unforgettable. Soneva Gili is made up of a series of 45 villas connected by jetties that hover over one of the biggest lagoon in the area. This resort also offers stand alone villas in the ocean for guests who desire complete privacy, accessible only by private boat. They feature private sun decks and are designed to offer guests all the comforts expected in a hotel on land, such as air conditioning and mini-bars, but are also built with natural materials to be eco-friendly, and "reflect the harmony of life by the water's edge." Some suites offer spa rooms where guests can receive treatments such as massages, and the Private Reserve has an attached water slide that leads right into a natural coral pool.
The River Kwai Jungle Rafts, Thailand
Located in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, the River Kwai Jungle Rafts is an award-winning floatel that offers a truly unique experience. Guests can choose to explore their surroundings while riding on the back of an Asian elephant raised by employees at the resort. Cementing their reputation as a cultural institution is Jungle Rafts' encouragement of integration with locals. Guests can watch rituals and partake in traditions along with the Mon people, who make up the local tribes. Like the Soneva Gili, the Jungle Rafts are environmentally friendly, using only wick lamps to light the site at night. The rafts are made entirely of bamboo, and the installation of a septic tank ensures that no waste is dumped into the river. Each accommodation offers guests an outdoor sun deck, equipped with hammocks and lounge chairs to fully relax on the river. A stay at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts is sure to be an experience like no other, even in the extraordinary world of floatels.
Punta Caracol, Panama
Built over the waters of the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama, the Punta Caracol "aqua lodge" continues the commitment to the environment like other floatels. The nine cabins stand on stilts over the clear Caribbean Sea, are covered by a palm leaf roof, and have solar panels that power both the cabins and the resort's restaurant. Nearby rainforests and reefs offer many day trip options for guests, from boating to fishing, hiking, or snorkeling. This resort is definitely a great choice for eco-conscious travelers, as the resort not only uses alternative energy, but protects acres of forests on the surrounding land. Guests can choose to relax in their lofted bedrooms and enjoy great views of the sea, or they can take their breakfasts out to the private deck and revel in one of the highlights of the resort - the dolphins that swim up close to the cabins in the morning.