Luxury Shelters for the End of the World
It's a modern day Noah's arc, a luxury shelter fully equipped with everything from an entertainment theater to an exercise room. If you can fork up between $25,000 to $50,000, this could be your home away from home should disaster strike.
Robert Vicino says business is booming. His company, The Vivos Group, is in the process of building seven shelters around the country and one in Europe that is expected to be the size of Wal-mart .
"Our goal is to accommodate 6000 people worldwide by 2012," he tells CNBC. "That's only one in one million people so we're not even scratching the surface with the potential here."
The shelters are buried 25 to 50 feet below the earth's surface so they can withstand a 50 megaton nuclear blast within a 10 mile radius, biological and chemical attack, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Sites are chosen based on many factors including proximity to a major population and distance to natural resources but secrecy is crucial to the business.
Exact locations of the shelters are known only by each shelters co-owners as they want to avoid riots and stampedes to the sites should a disaster occur.
Each shelter is equipped with enough food, water and clothing for an entire year for each of the members.
Applicants are hand selected to try and get as diverse a group as possible with varying skills and abilities. More than a third of the applicants come from a security and or military background, while another third come from the medical field.
Vicino said he first envisioned the need for these shelters in 1980.
His goal is to provide people with an assurance of life that normal insurance can't provide should an emergency happen.
"Any big event causes a big surge in interest" he says. The Japan earthquake and nuclear threat resulted in a 1000% increase in the applications they have received.
So how do you get to the shelter in an emergency?
Vicino says the shelters are not about 20 minutes notice but about having three days notice or more.
"The bigger risk is the aftermath in most situations," he says.
Even corporations have approached The Vivos Group about making custom shelters to protect their biggest asset - their people and data.
Says Vicino: "You gotta decide which side of the door you want to stand on. Not having a plan is crazy."