Inside the luxury bunkers where the super-rich plan to wait out the apocalypse
Every movie or TV show about the apocalypse – zombie or otherwise – focuses on the harshness of life in the rubble. Survivors band together for survival and to reform society. What you very rarely see is the lives of the super-rich, hanging out in lavish underground shelters, enjoying fine wine, having a swim, and waiting for the storm to pass. But rest assured, the wealthiest among us are preparing for doomsday, and there are companies ready to sell them luxury bunkers with all the accoutrements to continue living the luxe life underground.
Prompted by the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the threat of nuclear war, those who can afford it have been plotting their escapes in the event of a societal breakdown. They don’t want to merely survive, however, huddled in a concrete shelter eating canned tuna and beans indefinitely. They want the finer things they’re used to having in their normal lives.
‘Most Powerful Individuals in the World’
Living below the surface, you might miss sunlight most of all. Having a mental breakdown might be your biggest risk. Luxury bunkers account for that. They can simulate natural light, right down to daily sunrise and sunset, to keep your circadian rhythms in rhythm. Oppidum, a Swiss company, specializing in ultra-luxury bunkers, builds enough light into its L’Heritage shelters that plants can thrive.
“A sanctuary within your sanctuary, in this seemingly magical space, your favorite flowers – sustained by sophisticated automatic irrigation – delight and soothe the senses with their colors and perfumes,” Oppidum CEO Jakub Zamrazil said in a press release.
L’Heritage bunkers – for “the most powerful individuals in the world” — come with 10,000 square feet of living space. Entry requires passing biometric scanners that check face, iris, palm, and fingerprints to make sure the owners and no one else get in. Recognition is immediate, and the blast doors open to the foyer, where 15-foot ceilings and hand-crafted glass chandeliers drive home the point that no matter what is going on outside, you’ll find comfort here.
The furniture and layout are customs designed by the buyer, with French architect Marc Prigent bringing the vision to life. Off-the-grid energy keeps the lights on in the event of a blackout. Take a lap or two in the pool, which is constantly maintained and ready for use, to ease your nerves. Or hit the exercise machines to alleviate your stress. Step out into the garden, whose skylight changes throughout the year to match the season outside, for a deep breath. At the end of a tough day, join the family in the home cinema for a light-hearted movie. Should you pick up an injury before you come in, there’s a fully equipped infirmary to sew yourself back up.
“It is human nature to desire security and protection: we are privileged to offer our clients the highest levels of service imaginable, creating beautiful places that will protect them now and their legacy for generations to come,” Zamrazil said.
‘Ultimate Life Assurance Solution’
Survival bunkers don’t have to be the explicit domain of the super-rich. Global shelter network Vivos offers spots in an 80-person bunker for $35,000, with “significant discounts available for key skills.” But its Europa One facility near Rothenstein, Germany, is “the ultimate life assurance solution for high net worth families.” It’s a converted Soviet munitions fortress, with 76 acres of space carved from solid bedrock under a 400-foot outcrop. Vivos says the facility can withstand just about any natural or human-directed force, including a close-range nuclear blast.
With more than 3 miles of tunnels, the sprawling complex contains a common area and 34 private luxury bunkers with between 2,500 and 5,000 square feet of living space. As with Oppidum’s L’Heritage, owners can customize their bunkers to their tastes, with pools, gyms, and theaters possible. The bunkers start at €2 million plus the cost of amenities and add-ons.
“When completed, Vivos Europa One will allow these select families to autonomously survive virtually any catastrophe or disaster for several years without needing to return to the surface,” the company claims.
Vivos also operates what it calls the only private human DNA vault on Earth and bills itself as “the backup plan for humanity.”
‘We Sell Preparedness’
Unlike Vivos’ fixed locations, Rising S builds custom luxury bunkers on location at customers’ properties. Mini shelters start at $45,500, but it’s the luxury series where things get really interesting. With enough beds for 22 people, the Venetian carries a price tag of just under $3.8 million. The Aristocrat tops $9.6 million.
Though not as lavishly appointed as L’Heritage (you won’t find ornate chandeliers or sun simulators here), the Aristocrat can sleep up to 50 people. There’s a fitness center. There’s a pool, hot tub, and sauna. There’s a bowling alley, game room, and media room. There’s even an indoor shooting range to keep your skills sharp should you have to venture to a dangerous surface. Custom add-ons have included an infirmary, horse stables, and a crypto mining room. Rising S offers to consult on every step of the luxury bunker survival process, including stocking the pantry and the right kind of air filtration. “We don’t sell fear. We sell preparedness.” Rising S says.
One has to wonder if things are so bad on the surface that the ultra-wealthy feel compelled to retreat to luxury bunkers, why would they ever come back up? As long as they can keep the food coming in and keep the lights on, wouldn’t life underground be better than the alternative? On the other hand, if things are so bad, how long can a luxury bunker keep one feeling safe and protected? What good is having all those ornate features if you can’t invite your friends over? Just a few questions to ponder while you sit in your luxury bunker, waiting for the coast to clear, we suppose.