The developer behind The Heart of Europe resort at Dubai’s The World islands has redesigned its flagship ‘St Petersburg’ island to incorporate a cluster of floating villas.
Austrian company Kleindienst told Arabian Business it has made alterations to plans for St Petersburg island – which is to form the centrepiece of The Heart of Europe also comprising islands named Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Monaco.
They are part of Dubai’s The World archipelago of 300 manmade islands constructed in the sea beyond the Palm Jumeirah.
Most of the islands have yet to be developed, but Kleindienst intends to complete its luxury holiday resort on St Petersburg by October 2016.
Under plans drawn up several years ago, St Petersburg was intended to house the Tzar Hotel, an arrival marina and 30 beachfront villas.
However, a spokesperson for Kleindienst said on Wednesday that St Petersburg has been redesigned in the shape of a heart, “taking inspiration from the Maldives”.
Instead of the beachfront villas, Kleindienst will build around 40 of its signature ‘Floating Seahorses’ – floating villa-type structures connected to the main island by jetties.
The villas are being sold to private investors but will be serviced by the Tzar Hotel and made available for use by the owners free of charge for just two weeks per year. The rest of the time they will be used by hotel guests.
The spokesperson said: “On the newly designed St Petersburg Island, we will still have The Tzar Hotel and an arrival marina, but due to such demand for The Floating Seahorse, St Petersburg has been adapted to incorporate The Tzar Edition of The Floating Seahorse.”
Each Floating Seahorse weighs 188 tonnes and features 269 sq ft of underwater glazing and a 495 sq ft coral garden. The underwater level will provide “an environment in which seahorses can live and breed in their natural habitat in the Arabian Gulf”, Kleindienst said.
The spokeswoman added that the first two phases of 51 Floating Seahorses sold out at the beginning of the year and the first is scheduled for completion on December 15. However, these are not part of the St Petersburg Tzar Edition seahorses, which represents the third phase of development.
The Tzar Hotel will have 109 keys in total – the remaining rooms will be constructed on land.
The spokeswoman said: “Having re-shaped St Petersburg Island, the resort will be operational on October 1 2016, whereas the original concept wouldn’t have been possible until 2017.
“The island will be home to lagoons and lush tropical landscaping with Floating Seahorses connected via floating jetties. It will be home to St Petersburg-inspired hospitality including a café and restaurant, infinity pool and beach club.”
The Heart of Europe aims to attract visitors for 14 days — nearly five times the average stay in Dubai, CEO Josef Kleindienst said in an interview with Arabian Business last year.
He claimed it would be the first place in the world to have climate-controlled streets – designed to emulate Europe’s colder temperatures – making outdoor dining in the Middle East possible 365 days of the year.