Coronavirus boosts luxury underground bunkers, off-grid living

How the wealthy and affluent middle class are escaping the COVID-19 pandemic

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For the rich and famous, preparing for a crisis is a piece of cake since there is a luxurious underground bunker market for ensuring the safety of the elite. From stockpiled food and goods to blast-proof doors, amenities and escape helicopters, the wealthy can ride out a pandemic or natural disaster thanks to real estate companies like Vivos – which characterizes itself as a "global shelter network."

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Salesman Robert Vicino has been selling underground bunkers in remote areas such as the Black Hills of South Dakota as well as various parts of Indiana and Rothenstein, Germany. And he told the New York Post that the coronavirus global pandemic has helped Vivos make serious cash among affluent survivalists.

The company’s sales are up 400 percent for the year so far, according to Vicino, much of which has been achieved through his moderately priced bunkers in South Dakota that cost around $37,817. Vivos' five-star Europa One underground apartments in Germany are carved into a mountainside for added protection and costs a little over $2.16 million.

"All my customers know something bad could happen," Vicino said. "The dominoes are falling. We could be a month away from a meltdown. What’s everyone going to do when they run out of food and money? It could get ugly. By that time, it’s too late to call me."

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Despite the global spread of the coronavirus which has surpassed 1 million cases, Vicino told the New York Post he is planning to open new bunkers in Asia and Marbella, Spain.

Aside from bunkering down, people are looking to go off-the-grid, according to Iowa broker Curt Eilers of Venture Real Estate – who also happens to own three properties in California for survival. Eilers told the New York Post that he's gotten inquiries for remote properties all over the country, including Kentucky and Arkansas that provide 50 acres of land for less for $130,000.

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Posh dwellers that are looking to shelter in place temporarily at a lavish location are turning toward the Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood. Amid the current pandemic, guests are being checked for fevers before they can “escape the ordinary.”

Once everything checks out, they are welcomed to air conditioned units and facilities. However, it’s not all fun and games at the Petit Ermitage, according to the New York Post. Staff disinfect areas every 30 minutes and guests are following social distancing guidance of six feet apart, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Out in Ubud, Bali, the Taksu Spa is prepping to reopen its luxury retreat with a thorough cleaning protocol that aims to stop the virus in its tracks. Randall Hayward, owner of the spa and restaurant, told the New York Post that guests' temperatures will be checked regularly along with hand sanitizer distribution.

Closed spaces will be ozonated every night while linens will be kept sterilized in ozone storage rooms. All of the retreat’s cutlery will be cleaned with UV sterilization and staff will wear custom N95 masks. Guest rooms and other areas will have AC units with ionized air purification technology.

When it comes down to clothing, the retreat will spray down materials with hydrogen peroxide solutions that include citrus and tea tree nebulized oils.

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In Hayward's own words, “In these scary times, prepared.”