Book quickly to secure your penthouse for the after-life

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The Independent Online
If you want to go to Heaven when you die, it might help to be interred above the sod rather than beneath it. Several storeys above ground might work best. Say a penthouse berth. Would that be mountain or ocean view, madam?

It will not be open until 1999, but work is about to begin on an unusual mausoleum outside Vancouver, western Canada. To be called the "Seasons Memorial Park", it will bring the burial business into the high-rise age.

Conceived by Alvin Mitchell, a local property developer, the edifice will stand five storeys high in a woodsy tract north of the city. From the outside it will look like a normal apartment building, with windows and gabled roof. Its occupants, however, will number 50,000. And they will all be dead.

The advantages of offering such accommodation to those who may eschew the more common cremation route, says Mr Mitchell, are various. Above all, it allows for a high concentration of tombs in a relatively small place. "A normal cemetery in Vancouver uses an acre to bury 1,000 people," he recently pointed out. "We'll have 50,000 interment spaces on 3.5 acres, so that's a considerably better use of the land."

Curbing cemetery-sprawl should be welcome in Vancouver which is on its way to becoming majority Asian. Chinese people in particular do not like living close to cemeteries. "They don't want to pass a cemetery on their way home," Mr Mitchell explained.

The building, which is costing Mr Mitchell some pounds 20m, will consist mostly of long corridors with marble-faced walls covered with inscriptions identifying the tenants. On the top floor, there will be a small chapel and a reception area. And like the best Vegas hotels, the Seasons will offer themed floors - such as the veterans floor for the military.

Mr Mitchell expects to sell his accommodation slots quickly. He is hopeful that Chinese families will dig up ancestors' remains back home and bring them for reinterment at the Seasons. So if you are thinking about making a reservation, hurry. True, the atmosphere promises to be a touch morbid and the night-life non-existent. But there may not be space at this inn for very long.