World’s first all-glass undersea restaurant opens in the Maldives

Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa has opened Ithaa, the world’s first aquarium-style undersea restaurant, at the resort. Designed in New Zealand, constructed in Singapore using materials from the United States and then shipped to the Maldives, Ithaa sits six meters below the waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by a coral reef and encased in clear acrylic, offering diners 180-degrees of underwater views.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  February 22, 2005

Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa has opened Ithaa, the world’s first aquarium-style undersea restaurant, at the resort. Designed in New Zealand, constructed in Singapore using materials from the United States and then shipped to the Maldives, Ithaa sits six meters below the waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by a coral reef and encased in clear acrylic, offering diners 180-degrees of underwater views. “We have used aquarium technology to put diners face-to-face with the stunning underwater environment of the Maldives,” says Carsten Schieck, general manager of the resort. “Our guests always comment on the colour, clarity, and beauty of the underwater world in the Maldives, so it seemed the perfect idea to build a restaurant where diners can experience fine cuisine and take time to enjoy the views.” Created by MJ Murphy Ltd, a design consultancy based in New Zealand, Ithaa’s distinctive feature is the use of curved transparent acrylic walls and roof, similar to those used in aquarium attractions. “The fact that the entire restaurant, except for the floor, is made of plexi-glass makes this unique in the world,” says Schieck. “We are currently planting a coral garden on the reef to add to the spectacular view, and will hold daily fish-feeding sessions to attract the rays, sharks and other fish to the reefs near the restaurant.” Ithaa will offer contemporary Maldivian cuisine instead of seafood. As Schieck says, “That was too predictable!” He adds: “We take local spices and traditional flavours and give them a western twist to create a fusion cuisine that you could find in the best restaurants in London or New York. Nobody else has done this before and we're very excited about it.” Ithaa is reached by a wooden walkway from the nearby over-water Sunset Grill Restaurant. Diners begin their meal with drinks on a specially constructed deck over the ocean and then descend to the restaurant via a spiral staircase where the a la carte menu is served. The restaurant itself seats only 14 people.

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