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This 102-year-old ship is about to become one of the world's quirkiest hotels

Easyvoyage logo Easyvoyage 15/02/2016 F Long
The MV Doulos in 2014 © Copyright Chris Wood 2004 The MV Doulos in 2014

Built in 1914, the ship widely known as MV Doulos holds the record for world's oldest active oceanic passenger vessel. Over its long life, it has survived two world wars, travelled the world as a Christian bookshop and was on its way to the scrapyard in 2010 when it was saved by a Singaporean businessman with a vision to turn it into a floating hotel.

Since saving the ship six years ago, Eric Saw has been on a mission to find a permanent home for the Doulos. It now sits on dry land beside the Bandar Bentan Telani ferry port in Bintan, Indonesia and Saw's company, Source Ed-Ventures, says it hopes to open the boat-hotel by Christmas or early 2017.

Last week, the businessman named the ex-ship Doulos Phos The Hotel, announcing that it would include a maritime museum, swimming pool, library, spa, piano lounge and amphitheatre. The ship's original engine room and bridge, which holds a 100-year-old compass, will be preserved as part of the museum.

The vessel's eight decks will each be furnished to commemorate a different part of its history, with old sinks and bunk beds featuring in the cabins and bathrooms. The captain's deck will hold the presidential suite, a 1,000-square-foot cabin with private jacuzzi and, curiously, a barbeque pit.

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The ship started life as a freighter called 'Medina' in 1914. It was used to transport onions before serving as a troop and supply carrier during the World Wars, both of which it survived without significant damage.

It was renamed Roma and the Franca C, transporting first-class passengers as a luxury liner before finally being bought by Christian charity Good Books for All. It spent the ensuing 32 years as the world's largest travelling bookstore, visiting over 100 countries. It was put up for sale in 2009 when it became too expensive for the charity to run.

Cue Eric Saw, with his saving $2 million and desire to give the doomed ship new life as a hotel. When his initial idea for a floating hotel was rejected by Indonesian authorities, Saw began to cast around for a land berth for his new acquisition.

With the area of land in Bintan now secured, Saw has turned his attention properly to the creation of a hotel. Though it may cost as much as $25 million to complete, he has stipulated that all profits from the venture will go to charity.

Now there's a hotel with a heart...

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