You can’t take it with you – but you can jealously hoard it as the rest of humanity burns just outside the nuclear-hardened steel door of your luxury bomb shelter. That’s basically the message of a new luxury doomsday shelter, Vivos, that caters to the super-rich (and paranoid).
For a $35,000 entry fee, you can reserve one of eighty spots in this ten thousand square foot underground shelter that boasts 12.5 foot ceilings, a gym, leather furniture, a meticulously stocked pantry for fine dining, and queen sized bunks. There are two massive generators, enough fuel to run them for years, and a full field hospital. It can withstand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb, earthquakes, tsunamis, and plague. The only catch, if there is one, is that the shelter is in Indiana; it’d be hard to know when exactly to lock yourself in, since there isn’t much civilization there to collapse in the first place.
This five star shelter is run by the Vivos Group, who claims that various uber-wealthy people, including CEOs, generals, and “one movie star,” have already signed up and reserved their spots. Their website claims that there are “very few spots left,” but that discounts can be arranged for people with “needed skill sets.” (Does an English degree count?)
Oh, and there’s an even nicer one in Europe, just in case you’re on vacation when the apocalypse kicks off. Formerly a Soviet weapons bunker, Vivos bought it for $225 million and renovated it into a $1.1 billion uber-shelter fit for wealthy European icons like David Hasselhoff and the guy who sang the “I’m Too Sexy” song. (I have to admit that profit margin is pretty impressive though.) Unlike the US bunker, which is more of an intimate little community, the European Vivos, located in Rothstein, Germany, can hold up to 6000 people, making it a self-sufficient underground city (of people inhaling each other’s endlessly recycled emissions). Buy-in gets you a 2500 square foot apartment and access to community amenities like a zoo, theaters, restaurants, hair salons, and prayer rooms. There’s even a DNA vault, to rebuild biodiversity after an “extinction level event.” And because living 24/7 in a lightless concrete bunker can make one a bit edgy, there’s also an armory and a jail.
These shelters are the brainchild of San Diego businessman Michael Vicino, who was set on his paranoid life path in the Seventies, when a massive ice sheet fell onto his car, convincing him that the universe was out to get him. From that inauspicious beginning, Vicino’s become wealthy catering to society’s increasing paranoia. Of course, he never specifies what, exactly, his shelters are going to protect you from, though if you click around the Vivos website for a minute or two, you’ll see references to the Freemasons, Nostradamus, “Planet X,” the Hopi Indians, and Edgar Cayce, just to name a few. It’s the “all of the above” approach to prepping.
Of course, the question is – what’s causing all this anxiety and paranoia about the future? Experts trace the dawn of modern paranoia back to the Fifties, the dawn of the nuclear era. There definitely seems to be a strain of technology panic in prepper culture, a sort of underlying belief that the pace of progress has spun out of control. The genius of Vivo, though, is that it exists at the intersection of this general anxiety about the future and a type of anxiety that’s specific to the wealthy. Part of this “rich man’s paranoia” is probably fueled by karmic thinking – ie, you probably have to step on a lot of necks to get to the top, so it seems natural to believe, at least on a subconscious level, that there’s going to be some kind of payback – but you could argue that another part is perfectly rational. After all, who’s more demonized than the 1%? When you’ve become the go-to punching bag for both politicians and Joe Sixpack, it’s not surprising that you might want to hole up in an underground bunker with a bunch of guns. (That being said, I still support a 90% tax bracket for the highest earners.)
At any rate, Vivos seems to have hit on something; business is booming, with more shelters planned around the US, a new line of modular home shelters announced, and a mail-order catalog hawking postapocalyptic survival gear.