What began as an inspired work of installation art in a Swedish lake has now reached the Indian Ocean island of Pemba.
Origins: Utter Inn and Mikael Genberg
A single underwater room in a Swedish lake near Stockholm. The Utter Inn is the brainchild of Mikael Genberg, an artist and public speaker who has chosen to focus on the “making art for the public”. The single room of the hotel lies 3m below the surface of Lake Mälaren in Västerås, Sweden and contains only twin beds and a table.
It opened in June 2000 on the coldest, rainiest day in the whole summer. Despite that it was a great success. Not only did all the untested solutions work, and work to this day, but it also attracted a people from all corners of the world.
The Utter Inn stimulates the most typical of Swedish dreams; to have a small Swedish red house with white gables on your own island. On top of that you can spend your night three meters underwater with panoramic windows in all directions.
There is a remarkable feeling to go to bed while the fish are surrounding and watching you carefully. You are in an aquarium – for fish to be beholders of man.
Often boats come quite close to get a glance of the daring inhabitants. Swedish boat people are however always very polite and never take more than two trips around your room!!!
Mikael Genberg is a Swedish artist who has become famous for his spectacular and sometimes controversial art projects, but more recently for his work with what he describes as ‘alternative dwellings’. He began his career working with the traditional art forms such as sculpture and painting. Today his creations have developed their own distinctively unique signature. His work is now strongly characterised by functionality and has strong aspects of realism.
Two of his most famous creations are, the Otter Inn, an underwater hotel three and a half meters below the surface of Lake Mälaren and the Woodpecker Hotel, where guests can look across the city of Västerås from 13 meters up in an old oak tree.
The hotels enjoy fully booked status, being visited by both national and international guests throughout their seasons of operation.
Café Koala is another well known work of art which has been exhibited in Sweden and Rio de Janeiro. The café consists of eight chairs configured in a circle five meters above the ground, to which coffees and confectionery are hoisted to adventurous customers.
Mikael`s latest work is an art project called Luna Resort which is rapidly becoming of great importance to a growing number of leading business and community leaders. The goal is to place a red cottage with white gables on the moon, a symbol of Swedish life that Swedes hold close to their hearts. The project is a bold one and has far reaching implications when considering the realms of possibility. The Swedish Space Corporation has, through careful investigation, confirmed the technical viability of the project.
From the traditional role of being an artist, Mikael is gradually stepping in to that of an entrepreneur, where he is combining his creativity with ongoing business development and “new thinking.
The driving force behind Mikael Genberg`s creativity is the challenge to make the impossible possible. Unswerving commitment is a facet of his personality that contributes greatly to his success and therefore the fulfillment of his dreams and visions. His natural ability to engage imaginations, works as a catalyst in inspiring people to look at the world through his eyes. His greatest incentive is in building collective consciousness through his work to make the world a better place.
The Genberg Underwater Hotels company
This Swedish company was formed in 2006. It has been developing the concept with the express intention of launching more underwater rooms around the world.
Living underwater is the essence of the concept, a fascination worldwide.
It is an adventure in the truest sense of the word. A uniquely absorbing experience.
Pemba Island and The Manta Resort
In search of the perfect underwater environment we found ourselves on a remote island, asking ourselves whether it gets any better.
The conclusion, a more remote location with whiter coral sand and clearer waters would prove almost impossible to find.
Pemba Island has been separated from the mainland of Tanzania and Zanzibar for decades, leaving an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and fertility. The mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, hidden beaches and lagoons is scattered with the ruins of mosques and tombs mostly reclaimed by the forest – sites that date back to Arab domination when Pemba Island was seized by the Sultan of Muscat (Oman) in the 17th century. He loved the Spice Islands and established his court in Zanzibar and ruled Muscat from there.
Pemba is still the predominant global producer of cloves yielding around 70% of all the world’s cloves, but now plays its more traditional role of being an island paradise with small inter-island trade. Pemba Island also has a strong reputation as a ‘magic’ island, a centre for ju-ju traditions of medicine and wizardry.
How can such a beautiful place be so devoid of visitors? On an island with a population of 300,000 there are rarely more than a couple of dozen foreigners. It is as though the people of Pemba have a secret that they refuse to share. Traveling in Pemba is discovering untouched territory. Villagers are eager to talk to anyone who passes and small children will give you their biggest and whites smiles as the yell “bye-bye!” as you pass them by. You will be called over in markets by the stallholders to sit you down to try their fruits, waiting paitiently for your reaction.
When the Western Colonial powers came to East Africa the British forced the Sultanates of Muscat and Zanzibar to separate and then administered the Spice Islands in the name of the Sultan.
Historically the huge traditional trading vessels, or “dhows”, followed the monsoons down from the Arabian Peninsula to East Africa. Following the winds they transported cloves to India, textiles to the Arab countries and silver and wood back to the Spice Islands of Unguja and Pemba.
The dhows have remained a constant emblem throughout the history of Pemba. To this day the dhows sail from Wete to Shimoni in Kenya and then plough through to northern Mozambique when the winds become favourable.
Pemba is a magical island. Unlike Unguja (Zanzibar), Pemba is lush and hilly. Gentle, undulating hills and deep verdant valleys are all covered with a dense cover of clove, coconut, mango and other fruit and crop plantations.
The Manta Resort is elevated along an idyllic island beach on the northern most point of the island. Facing west to the sunset it offers privacy, romance, adventure, and water sports on one of East Africa’s finest island sanctuaries.
The Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is an anomaly in the coral reef clearly visible from The Manta Resort terrace. Approximately 250 meters off shore it falls to 12 meters deep at high tide and is roughly 50 meters wide in diameter. A circular hole inhabited by a number of large coral heads and abundant marine life. A perfectly protected spot for your floating underwater room.
Who we are?
A small group of investors, Swedish and Tanzanian, have made the underwater room on Pemba possible. They are Christer and Jacky Abrahamsson, Hans Elis Johansson, Michael Wild and The Genberg Underwater Hotels company.
A Zanzibar registered company was formed, Genberg Art UW Limited, owning the underwater room and which in turn will be operated by The Manta Resort.