Deep in Southern Indiana, businessman Robert Vicino offers the cure for paranoid doomsday-preppers: a retrofitted Cold War–era communications bunker where 80 people can weather a catastrophe underground for up to a year—among the kind of tony trappings one might find on a luxury yacht. Vicino’s sales pitch leaves no potential natural or manmade disaster unmentioned, including nuclear explosion, biological warfare, solar flares, and, of course, the Mayan prophecy that appears to foretell an apocalypse this month.
According to Vicino, a California real-estate developer, the shelter is recognizable on the surface only as a concrete box and an exhaust chimney surrounded by a chain-link fence. Beyond the blast door and down several flights of stairs, however, lies a 10,000-square-foot, nuclear-resistant facility with leather couches, flat-screen TVs, and granite countertops—all for $50,000 per person ($35,000 per child). That might seem exorbitant for crowded, windowless quarters, but Vicino asserts that the bunker is sold out. (Curiously, the Spike cable channel recently scuttled plans for a reality show to give away a spot in the bunker when it couldn’t enlist appropriate contestants.)
Strategically located a day’s drive from much of the country and a safe distance from most nuclear targets, says Vicino, Indiana’s bunker was the first of three built by his company, The Vivos Group. He alleges to have acquired our facility from a shadowy, quasi-government source. “We’ve now made it biological-, chemical-, and even waterproof, to the extent that it could be submerged under several hundred feet of water,” says Vicino, who claims he has stocked the bunker with oceangoing rafts, just in case.
And apparently the spot does exist: The History Channel’s Decoded will feature the Indiana bunker this month. But where is it, exactly? Vicino won’t say, citing safety concerns—not for those inside, but for survivors who might try to get in if they knew the location. There are “a number of surprises that are very Indiana Jones–like,” Vicino says of possible booby traps. “That’s all I can say.”
BUNKER BONUS: See the web-exclusive photo gallery here.
Photos © Vivos Media
This article appeared in the December 2012 issue.