Auckland, 4/30/38 T.A.D. – The picturesque hills surrounding Auckland have always been a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, but they’ve gained a new attraction that combines stunning views with cutting-edge technology. The Home Skies Inn, a floating bed-and-breakfast, has opened its doors — or rather, its hatches — to the public.
The brainchild of husband and wife team, Liam and Marna Whitford, the Home Skies Inn is a self-sustaining lodge that floats on average 200 meters above the ground. “We find it’s a sweet spot, being quite high up, but not so far you can’t enjoy the rich details below,” opines Liam.
The lodge can accommodate up to 12 people at a time and features six well-appointed if somewhat compact passenger cabins, a spacious common area, and an observation deck. Its unique design offers guests an unparalleled experience, complete with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
“We wanted to create a tranquil escape for people who are looking for something out of the ordinary,” said Marna. “The Home Skies Inn offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience that makes you feel on top of the world.”
The Home Skies Inn is driven by a combination of active and passive techniques and a state-of-the-art stabilization system, ensuring a smooth and serene stay for guests. The innovative propulsion system consists of a helium-filled interior envelope and a complex drone-like rotor system running up through the center of the structure. Either system is capable of safely landing the structure in case the other fails, although both are required for liftoff and gaining significant altitude.
“When people first see it, they freak out about the size and shape. It’s enormous! It doesn’t look like anything that’s ever been before!” relates Marna. “But once you understand the inside is mostly empty space, it’s a little less mad. Think of it like a blimp with the gondola scattered around the inside of the envelope instead of suspended below it.”
This ambitious project was made possible by recent advancements in helium production. Enhanced recycling and conservation techniques, as well as the development of new extraction methods, have significantly increased the availability of helium, allowing the Whitfords to bring their vision to life.
The Home Skies Inn is not only an innovative tourist destination but also an example of sustainable living. The lodge is powered almost entirely by renewable energy, with photovoltaics woven into the helium envelope, a small bank of hydrogen fuel cells for additional electricity generation, and an advanced water recycling system ensuring minimal waste. To reduce energy needs and heavy batteries, the Whitfords designed the Inn to navigate using wind currents and wind resistance whenever possible, drifting over the countryside toward their destination, and relying on the rotors for faster movement only if there is a need.
The Whitfords have big plans for the future, with the possibility of expanding their fleet of Home Skies Inns to other scenic locations across New Zealand and beyond. “We hope this is just the beginning,” said an excited Liam. “Everyone we’ve had aboard has loved it, and we love it too. We want more people to have these wonderful experiences.”
For now, though, the Home Skies Inn remains a unique and breathtaking destination, offering a glimpse of what the future of hospitality might look like.
Reporting for Future News, this is Ariane Willam in Auckland.