Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hotels & Resorts

Under the sea!
June 2011 57

An intimate fine-dining restaurant located beneath the waves at an upscale resort in the Maldives offers gourmands a one-of-a-kind experience

IF exclusivity of experience is the key to true luxury, then it surely does not come much more luxurious than Ithaa, the first underwater restaurant of its kind anywhere in the world – where special guests can even spend a night beneath the waves!

Sitting five metres blow the Indian Ocean, Ithaa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in Rangalifinolhu, Maldives, is surrounded by a coral reef and encased in clear acrylic, offering diners 270-degrees of panoramic underwater views.

The restaurant is reached by a wooden walkway from the nearby over-water Sunset Grill restaurant, and seats just 14 people for exclusive dining with a real difference.

The $5-million venue was opened in 2005 and, since then, has welcomed more than 44,000 diners and witnessed 151 undersea ‘renewal of love ceremonies’ accompanied by 14,000-plus bottles of bubbly.

Using aquarium-inspired technology, Ithaa – which means pearl in the Maldivian language of Divehi – was built to allow guests to enjoy the colour, clarity and beauty of the Indian Ocean without getting their feet wet.

It consists of three five-m-wide by 125-mm-thick glass arches sitting 1 m below sea level during low tide and almost 2 m at high tide, the widest constructed underwater structure in the world at the time of building.

The inside of the restaurant is 9 m long and 5 m wide and sits on four ‘legs’ 8 m above the seabed and during lunchtime sittings the light is so bright diners and staff need sunglasses to protect their eyes.

Ithaa serves unique dishes combining a fine balance of western cuisine with Maldivian flavours.

And with an equally stunning concept of unlimited bubbly to accompany the meal, Ithaa is a magnificent experience, perfect for an unforgettably romantic lunch or dinner or an out-of-this-world wedding, according to the hotel.

Last year, to mark the fifth anniversary of the opening, the furniture was temporarily removed and the unique venue was turned into a bedroom suite allowing guests the option to sleep beneath the waves and wake up to the one-off experience of the underwater world of the Indian Ocean drifting gently around and above them.

Set in a picturesque corner of the Maldives, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island combines three distinct resort experiences on two islands, linked by a bridge and surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and lagoon. Accommodation includes 50 of the most luxurious water villas in the country, 79 exotic beach villas and 21 fabulous spa water villas – the ultimate in pure indulgence.

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