Waterfront: August 2007 - Mile-High Soak

Mile-High Soak

“Flying Palace” lists hot tub among its amenities.

You've heard of, and maybe even seen or installed, hot tubs on boats and limos. But here's a new one for you — a hot tub on a jet plane. An anonymous Middle Eastern head of state has signed a letter of intent to purchase a new Airbus A380, which sells for about $300 million, according to John Leahy, Airbus's chief commercial officer for customers. Leahy also told The Wall Street Journal that this buyer will spend an additional $100 million to transform the craft into what Airbus execs internally call "The Flying Palace."

New York-based aircraft interior designer Edese Doret has spent two years perfecting the interior of the double-decker plane. One of the most personal touches is the Bedouin-tent-style "oasis lounge" with vast curtains hanging from the ceiling, low tables and pillows on the floor.

To comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, this VIP Airbus's hot tub will have a rapid drainage system that can empty in seconds to a tank in the cargo hold.

"The rest of the plane is quite minimal and stylish," says Doret. "It looks like a New York loft with lots of wooden floors, wood veneers, leather in various colors and nickel. Olive green and light beige are the predominant colors. There are definitely no gold taps." But there are 42- and 70-inch wall-mounted plasma-screen TVs throughout, with live television, video on demand and Internet access. Don't forget the conference room, cocktail bar, gymnasium and sumptuous master bedroom.

Exact running costs for the Airbus A380 are unavailable, but its rival, the Boeing 747-400, costs more than $10,000 an hour to fly. Aside from the expense, there may be only one problem for the multibillionaire who has no qualms about his carbon footprint: the Airbus A380, the largest passenger jet in the sky, is too big to land at many of the world's most high-end jet ports.

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