After SeaWorld San Diego was forced to end its killer whale shows, the tourist attraction had planned to reboot its bottom line by building a nearby mega-hotel. The California Coastal Commission vetoed that project, but now the company has a new idea that executives believe honors its roots and also panders to out-of-town visitors: The Orca Hotel.
“It’s an expansive, underwater hotel in the Pacific Ocean where guests sleep, eat and interact with the whales,” says SeaWorld’s media director, former Navy Captain Ahab Enmoby. “We’ve designated 1.2 million square feet of seabed just off of Mission Beach that will be walled off from the rest of the ocean. We’re certain the public will be dying for this experience.”
Las Vegas odds-makers have set the over/under for the project’s cost at $1.25 billion.
One killer whale, two killer whales, three killer whales …
Enmoby says the park learned its lesson after the documentary Blackfish soured the public’s attitude about keeping whales in small enclosures and making them perform tawdry circus-like tricks three times a day.
“The whales will be completely free—within the designated walls—and will swim in the oceans that their in-bred ancestors once roamed,” says Enmoby. “And imagine the delight of guests who can retire to the kelp beds in their suites and fall asleep counting the killer whales that are circling above them.”
The San Diego Tourism Authority has thrown its backing behind The Orca Hotel. “Our job is to put heads in beds,” says SDTA president Joe Terzi. “This plan does just that.”