Billionaire bunkers: How the 1% are preparing for the apocalypse

(CNN)Say “doomsday bunker” and most people would imagine a concrete room filled with cots and canned goods.

The threat of global annihilation may feel as present as it did during the Cold War, but today’s high-security shelters could not be more different from their 20th-century counterparts.
A number of companies around the world are meeting a growing demand for structures that protect from any risk, whether it’s a global pandemic, an asteroid, or World War III — while also delivering luxurious amenities.
    “Your father or grandfather’s bunker was not very comfortable,” says Robert Vicino, a real estate entrepreneur and CEO of Vivos, a company he founded that builds and manages high-end shelters around the world.
    “They were gray. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is mankind cannot survive long-term in such a Spartan, bleak environment.”

    Doomsday demand

    Many of the world’s elite, including hedge fund managers, sports stars and tech executives (Bill Gates is rumored to have bunkers at all his properties) have chosen to design their own secret shelters to house their families and staff.
    Gary Lynch, general manager of Texas-based Rising S Company, says 2016 sales for their custom high-end underground bunkers grew 700% compared to 2015, while overall sales have grown 300% since the November US presidential election alone.
    The company’s plate steel bunkers, which are designed to last for generations, can hold a minimum of one year’s worth of food per resident and withstand earthquakes.
    But while some want to bunker down alone, others prefer to ride out the apocalypse in a community setting that offers an experience a bit closer to the real world.

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    The fortified structures are designed to withstand a nuclear strike and come equipped with power systems, water purification systems, blast valves, and Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) air filtration.
    Most include food supplies for a year or more, and many have hydroponic gardens to supplement the rations. The developers also work to create well-rounded communities with a range of skills necessary for long-term survival, from doctors to teachers.
    Vicino says Vivos received a flurry of interest in its shelters around the 2016 election from both liberals and conservatives, and completely sold out of spaces in its community shelters in the past few weeks.

    Designer ark

    One of those shelters, Vivos xPoint, is near the Black Hills of South Dakota, and consists of 575 military bunkers that served as an Army Munitions Depot until 1967.
    Presently being converted into a facility that will accommodate about 5,000 people, the interiors of each bunker are outfitted by the owners at a cost of between $25,000 to $200,000 each. The price depends on whether they want a minimalist space or a home with high-end finishes.
    The compound itself will be equipped with all the comforts of a small town, including a community theater, classrooms, hydroponic gardens, a medical clinic, a spa and a gym.
    For clients looking for something further afield and more luxurious, the company also offers Vivos Europa One, billed as a “modern day Noah’s Ark” in a former Cold War-era munitions storage facility in Germany.
    The structure, which was carved out of solid bedrock, offers 34 private residences, each starting at 2,500 square feet, with the option to add a second story for a total of 5,000 square feet.

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    The units will be delivered empty and each owner will have the space renovated to suit their own tastes and needs, choosing from options that include screening rooms, private pools and gyms.
    Vicino compares the individual spaces to underground yachts, and even recommends that owners commission the same builders and designers that worked on their actual vessels.
    “Most of these people have high-end yachts, so they already have the relationship and they know the taste, fit, and finish that they want,” he explains.
    The vast complex includes a tram system to transport residents throughout the shelter, where they can visit its restaurants, theater, coffee shops, pool and game areas.
    “We have all the comforts of home, but also the comforts that you expect when you leave your home,” Vicino adds.

    Nuclear hardened homes

    Developer Larry Hall’s Survival Condo in Kansas utilizes two abandoned Atlas missile silos built by the US Army Corps of Engineers to house warheads during the early 1960s.

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    “Our clients are sold on the unique advantage of having a luxury second home that also happens to be a nuclear hardened bunker,” says Hall, who is already starting work on a second Survival Condo in another silo on site.
    “This aspect allows our clients to invest in an appreciating asset as opposed to an expense.”
    The Survival Condo has several different layouts, from a 900-square-foot half-floor residence to a two-level, 3,600-square-foot penthouse that starts at $4.5 million.
    Owners have access to their homes and the facilities at anytime, whether a disaster is imminent or they just want to get away from it all, and the complex features a pool, general store, theater, bar and library.
    The condo association sets the rules for the community, and during an emergency, owners would be required to work four hours a day.

    Long-term luxury

    If you prefer to spend the end of days solo, or at least with hand-selected family and friends, you may prefer to consider The Oppidum in the Czech Republic, which is being billed as “the largest billionaire bunker in the world.”
    The top-secret facility, once a joint project between the former Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), was built over 10 years beginning in 1984.
    The site now includes both an above-ground estate and a 77,000-square-foot underground component. While the final product will be built out to the owner’s specifications, the initial renderings include an underground garden, swimming pool, spa, cinema and wine vault.
    While many might see the luxury amenities at these facilities as unnecessary, the developers argue that these features are critical to survival.
    “These shelters are long-term, a year or more,” Vicino says. “It had better be comfortable.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/luxury/doomsday-luxury-bunkers/index.html

    Author who wrote heartbreaking ‘dating profile’ for her husband dies

    (CNN)Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the prolific children’s book author who wrote a devastating “Modern Love” column about her soon-to-be-widower husband, died in her home in Chicago on Monday from ovarian cancer. She was 51.

    “Everything Amy did was life and love affirming,” Amy Rennert, her longtime literary agent and friend, said in a statement to CNN. “She was such a bright light with a great sense of wonder.”
    Rosenthal was best known for her many children’s books, including “Duck! Rabbit!” “I Wish You More,” and “Uni the Unicorn,” among others. She also wrote two memoirs for adults, the highly-praised “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” and its follow-up “Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal.”
      But one of her most powerful works was a column she wrote for The New York Times’ recurring “Modern Love” feature in early March, titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”
      In the article, Rosenthal wrote that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had little time left to live. Knowing these were her last days, she praised the loving virtues of her husband, making the column into a kind of a “dating profile” to help him find a new love after her death.
      “He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day,” she wrote. “I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony, but I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9,490 days.”
      Her husband Jason is a lawyer, a good cook, a painter, and, most importantly, a thoughtful and dedicated partner, she wrote.
      “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights,” she wrote. “But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet.”
      Her reason for writing the column? “I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins,” she wrote.
      Readers reacted to the selfless love story with an outpouring of emotion and plenty of tears.
      Rennert, Rosenthal’s agent, said the essay was the “ultimate gift” to us all.
      “Amy’s final essay, written under the most difficult of circumstances, a love letter to her husband Jason, was the ultimate gift to him and also to the rest of us,” she said.
      John Green, the bestselling author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” praised Krouse Rosenthal in a series of tweets as a “brilliant writer” and “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
      HarperCollins said in a statement the company was “privileged and honored” to have published 11 of Rosenthal’s books.
      “She was one of our most brilliant, creative, passionate authors who had an amazing way of turning ideas upside down in wonderful ways, and a gift for taking a handful of words and putting them together in a creative, unexpected way,” the publisher said.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/13/health/amy-krouse-rosenthal-author-modern-love-death-trnd/index.html

      23 literary journeys with the world’s great writers

      (CNN)Writers sometimes travel far from home to find inspiration, or even the freedom to express themselves.

      Others are so closely associated with a place that it’s hard to know whether the city left its mark on an author, or if it was the other way around.
      Here are 23 writers whose words helped define a particular place.
      Some places have returned the love with museums and monuments. Others simply allow readers to walk in a writer’s footsteps and experience sites of great inspirations.

        Mark Twain’s Mississippi River (Missouri)

        Reading through “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or “Huckleberry Finn” today, the landscape around the Mississippi River feels almost unrecognizable.
        When he wrote in the 1800s, the river was frontier land, not the powerful transport network that links half the United States, lined with farms and dotted with major cities.
        However, his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri has preserved some of the sights that the boy Samuel Clemson explored before he become famous — including the caves that became the scene of Tom and Huck’s escapades.
        A riverboat called the Mark Twain plies the river and takes visitors to Jackson’s Island, where Huck and the escaped slave Jim first realized a manhunt was after them.

        Amy Tan’s San Francisco (California)

        San Francisco’s Chinatown is the setting, and arguably a character, in many of Amy Tan’s novels.
        In her breakthrough “The Joy Luck Club,” which was also made into a successful film, the main character Waverly Place Jong was named after the street that her family lived on.
        Parts of the traditional Chinatown are now more Vietnamese, or even Russian. But Waverly Place is still home to the oldest Chinese temple in the United States, Tin How Temple.
        Waverly is known as the “street of the painted balconies,” because of the brightly painted shops and restaurants.

        James Joyce’s Dublin (Ireland)

        The

        One of the great writers of 20th-century China, Lu Xun occupies a peculiar place in the country.
        A leftist who never joined the Communist Party, his blistering critiques of tyranny still shape political thought today.
        Because the party embraced him, his presence in Shanghai has been enshrined. There’s a Lu Xun Memorial Hall (200 Tian’ai Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 2288), a Lu Xun Park (2288 Sichuan N Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 1561), and the Lu Xun Memorial Tomb.
        The selections of his works on display are, needless to say, carefully selected to avoid any possible critique of the current government.
        While the park is beautiful, it’s more interesting to wander through what used to be foreign concessions where he set up his League of Leftist Writers. The league’s building is on Duolun Road, now a popular tourist and shopping area.

        Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm (Sweden)

        The global publishing success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy — not to mention the films made from them — has given Stockholm a new appeal for fans of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
        The Stockholm City Museum runs a walking tour that takes fans into the world of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, or at least into their trendy neighborhood of Sodermalm.
        It’s a chance to see where Larsson placed the fictional sites in his books, from journalist Blomkvist’s favorite caf to Salander’s favorite tattoo parlor.

        JRR Tolkien’s Birmingham (England)

        The film versions of “The Lord of the Rings” made New Zealand synonymous with the novels, a role the country has eagerly embraced. (The national airline featured the characters in a safety video).
        But the actual inspiration for the books more likely draws from Tolkien’s life in England. Born in South Africa, his family moved outside of Birmingham when he was four years old.
        His childhood centered on the bucolic hamlet of Sarehole, where the pastures, streams and woods are widely considered as the inspiration for the Shire and Hobbiton.
        Nearby, the towers of Perrott’s Folly (44 Waterworks Rd, Birmingham) echo “The Two Towers.”
        When Tolkien was a boy, the clanking engine and steam from the Edgbaston Waterworks would have sounded like Mordor’s Barad-dr, the Dark Tower.
        The city of Birmingham maintains a Tolkien Trail to help visitors find the sites.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/06/travel/literary-journeys/index.html