Switzerland is to build Europe's highest altitude hotel on top of an Alpine mountain peak.
The hotel is going to be part of a 120m-tall glass and metal "pyramid" that will be erected on the 3,883m-high Little Matterhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps.
Once completed, the Dream Peak, as the project has been dubbed, will host the world's second highest hotel, after the Everest View hotel near the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal.
But the Swiss hotel, the highest point of which will exceed 4,000m, will be only one in the world to use a decompression system similar to that in airplanes to protect visitors from altitude-related ailments caused by lack of oxygen and high pressure.
Apart from the exclusive 100-bed hotel, the Dream Peak project will also include viewing platforms, a shopping centre, bars and restaurants, a multimedia conference centre and a wellness area.
The Mountain Cableways Company from the local town of Zermatt, one of Switzerland's most favoured tourist destinations, initiated the project with a competition to design an attraction that would "upgrade the peak" and provide worldwide publicity to boost tourism.
Zermatt Mountain Cableways spokesman Reto Wyss (CORR) said: "The aim is to create a spectacular attraction that will put us at the height of Alpine tourism.
Construction work will begin next summer and the first phase should be finished by October 2007, while the entire project will take around eight years to complete.
The entire project is estimated to cost up to Sfr80m (£35m).
The Zermatt tourism authorities expect the Dream Peaks project to drastically increase visitor numbers even during its construction phase.
By Jim Glenn (CEN)