Star Wars-inspired ‘sand hostel’ built on the Gold Coast

The world’s first “sand hostel,” a fully functioning backpacker’s hostel sculpted from 24 tonnes of sand, will open on the Gold Coast’s Kurrawa Beach.

The Star Wars-inspired design is reminiscent of a house on Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. The hostel will accommodate ten people in an eight-bed dormitory and a private double room.

The sand hostel, designed by Jon Dowding.

The sand hostel, designed by Jon Dowding.

Image: Hostelworld

Featuring a fully stocked bar, a beach volleyball court, and a sofa formed from sand, the hostel will also be the base for a range of activities open to the public, including sand sculpting lessons and beach yoga.

The concept for the hostel was developed by creative agency Lively Worldwide, along with renowned production designer Jon Dowding, known for his work on George Miller’s iconic 1979 Ozploitation film Mad Max, as well as the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon, staring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins as two adolescents stranded on a sandy desert island.

Film lore played a role in the design process of the hostel, with Dowding taking inspiration from George Lucas’s Star Wars, along with a range of different building types from around the world.

“[We referenced] Mr Skywalker’s planet, and Mexican adobe structures, Ethiopian mountain dwellings and, believe it or not … we looked at sandcastles,” Dowding said of the project.

While the hostel will appear to be made almost entirely of sand, it will incorporate additional materials to ensure stability.

“There are structural elements within the walls, which is the only way to ensure that the roofs stay up and in the right place,” said Dowding. “The ceilings of the dwelling are constructed with rafters and a woven bamboo panelling.”

The sand hostel, designed by Jon Dowding.

The sand hostel, designed by Jon Dowding.

Image: Hostelworld

Tasked with leading the construction of the hostel was sand sculptor Dennis Massoud, who is affectionately known as the “Sandman.”

Massoud won the sand sculpting world championship in Denmark in 2003, and is known for his large-scale sculptures built around the world, including in the Gobi Desert in northern China and southern Mongolia and at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The hostel is a joint venture between the Gold Coast Tourism Corporation and hostel booking platform Hostelworld, and is intended to attract more young travellers to the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast sees more than 300,000 international travellers between the ages of 18 and 30 years old visiting each year, representing more than 30 percent of all international arrivals.

Gold Coast Tourism Corporation’s executive director of corporate affairs and strategy Dean Gould said he hoped the hostel would show young people a different side of the area.

“There is an inexplicable energy that lives here and we invite young travellers to see how the Gold Coast has evolved,” he said.

The sand hostel will be open for guests for just three nights, from Wednesday 20 September to Friday 22. Those who don’t want to risk a sandy night sleeping in the hostel will be able to enjoy the bar, live music and other activities from 12 pm Wednesday to 2 pm Friday.

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