ABIDJAN: The seaside resort offers visitors a cool drink or tasty meal, a dip in a pool, a karaoke session or an overnight stay, all with a view.
Nothing much new there, you may say — creature comforts like this are pretty much standard in tropical hotels.
The big difference, though, is that this mini resort is also a moveable island that floats on plastic bottles.
Riding on the laguna in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic hub, the unusual complex floats on a platform made from 700,000 discarded bottles and other buoyant debris.
Its inventor, Frenchman Eric Becker, says his creation can help greener, more mobile tourism — something less harmful to seas and coastlines than traditional fixed, concrete resorts.
His “Ile Flottante” — French for “Floating Island” — comprises two thatched bungalows and a restaurant, two small pools, trees and shrubs and a circular walkway, spread out over 1,000 square meters.
Visitors are brought to the moored island by a boat. Water is provided by a pipe from the shore. Electricity is supplied by solar panels, backed by a generator.
The island is bigger than a moored boat and handier than a jetty as it can also be taken to other locations, Becker told AFP.
“It really is an artificial island that floats — you can move it.”
Becker, a former computer entrepreneur, first toyed with the idea of building a catamaran.
But it was when he came to Abidjan and saw the lagoon that the vision of a floating, moveable island came into his mind — and he sold everything he owned to achieve it. The first step was to forage for everything floatable — “plastic bottles, bits of polystyrene, even beach sandals.”
Bemused locals gave him the nickname of “Eric Bidon” — a word that has a subtle dual meaning of jerrycan and phoney.
“We bought disused bottles off people, we foraged for them in the lagoon. After a while, we learned to follow the wind and find the places where floating rubbish accumulates,” he said.
After living on his island for a number of years, Becker turned it into a hotel last year.
He has around 100 customers a week, mostly curious Ivorians or ecologically friendly tourists.
Others want a relaxing break from the bustling city and to use its swimming pools — taking a dip in the lagoon, fouled by industrial pollution and sewage outflows is an act for the foolhardy.
“When you’re competing with major hotels, you need an original idea like a floating island. It’s become a tourist attraction,” said Mathurin Yao Saky, a friend who has been advising Becker on the scheme.
Charles Moliere, a 28-year-old Frenchman who works in Ivory Coast for a large corporation, read about the resort in a guidebook.
“It’s very original, it’s a very untypical place — I’ve seen nothing like it elsewhere,” he said.
“I think it’s a neat idea to give a second life to plastic like this and to make a kind of small technical breakthrough. I like this place a lot.”
The island charges 15,000 CFA francs ($25) per person per day, which includes a meal and the ferry, and 60,000 CFA francs for a night.