Let's look at the Luna City Hotel from the viewpoint of the hotel manager. If the hotel makes a profit, then it becomes an enduring part of the economy of the lunar community. This is an essential ingredient is establishing a self-supporting, permanent community on the Moon.
Go forward in time to the point where we're manufacturing living quarters from lunar materials and can build a large tourist hotel. A 50-passenger spacecraft launches from Earth with its crew of 4 (two pilots, two flight attendants). The spacecraft gets refueled in low Earth orbit (LEO) and flies on to the Moon.
About two days later, the spacecraft touches down at a spaceport near the Luna City Hotel. On the Moon, the spacecraft exchanges its passengers for people coming home after a week of fun and exploration. This is the same scenario we described in the essay about Your Vacation on the Moon.
Rethinking the amortization cost of the spacecraft, the cost of the one-week trip goes up to $96,000. That's amortizing it on Japanese terms, where the cost of money is about 5% per year. A group of Japanese companies is already working on this vehicle, so it has a chance of happening. They're talking about a fleet of 50 vehicles, each making one 2-orbit flight 300 days a year. In other words, airline-style operations.
The spacecraft is a single-stage-to-orbit rocket, or SSTO. We've added a new mission to its repertoire: instead of just zipping around the Earth a couple of times, we take those same passengers all the way to the Moon.
To house all those tourists, we'll need a 350-bed hotel, plus perhaps another 12 beds for the transient flight crews. We'll need racks of space suits so folks can play outside, and a fleet of pressurized buses to take them on tours of the sights.
Assuming a packing rate of 2 people per room, we need 175 rooms for the tourists and maybe another 12 for the support troops; 187 guest rooms total.
It's a fun job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Let's go luxury class. On Earth, maids are expected to do 20 rooms a day, so we need 10 maids. How many maintenance folks? 5 sounds right. 3 managers, 3 desk clerks, 1 general manager. 32 folks working food service. 12 working the cocktail lounges. 2 working the souvenir counter. 18 tour guides. Total hotel staff: 86.
Making some assumptions about how the staff shares rooms, we're up to 230 rooms.
The staff doubles as security. Who's going to break into a hotel on the Moon? And if our guests steal our towels for souvenirs, they'd better leave an equal mass of good Earth stuff behind or they won't make their weigh-in for the return trip.
To feed all these people, we'll need quite an agriculture industry; trees and bees and plants and ants and worms and birds because they're pretty; cattle and chickens and a flock of smelly sheep. Tours of the lunar farms are included in the package.
By the time we're done, we'll be up to a total population of 500, and that's just for the hotel.
Let's assume the average staff member stays a year and costs us $200,000 a year, divided evenly between transportation costs and burdened labor rate. We're spending $82,000 a day for staff, or $234 per paying guest per day. Add in some really optimistic costs for amortizing the facility costs because it was all built by robotics from lunar material (unbridled optimism, that), and the rooms will go for $1,500 a day, meals and recreation included.
But hey, you've already paid $96,000 for your ticket on the rocket, so what's a measly $9,000 for the rest of the package? Thus our profit margin.
Go ahead and steal the towels. While you're at it, grab the ashtrays; they're made from genuine Moon rock.
Earthrise from Luna City Hotel Skyway -- Gregory Bennett 1999
Luna City Hotel Cocktail Lounge -- Nancy Rose Gossett, 1996, courtesy of Duncan Graphic Services