World’s First All-Glass Undersea Restaurant

Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa announces the arrival of
Ithaa*, the world’s first aquarium-style undersea restaurant at the resort.Ê Designed in New Zealand, constructed in Singapore using
materials from the United States and then shipped to the Maldives,
Ithaa will sit six meters below the waves of the Indian Ocean,
surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and encased in clear acrylic
offering diners 180-degrees of panoramic 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 Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. “Our guests
always comment on being blown away by 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 - without ever getting their feet wet.”

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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
including Sydney Aquarium, Ocean Park Shark Aquarium in Hong Kong, and the San Sebastian Aquarium in Spain.

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“The fact that the entire restaurant except for the floor is made of
clear acrylic makes this unique in the world,” continues Schieck, “We
are currently planting a coral garden on the reef to add to the
spectacular view, and when the restaurant opens in early 2005, we hope
to attract rays, sharks and other fish that live around the reef near the restaurant.”

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The five-metre by nine-metre transparent arch, which spans the entire
room, provides a feeling of being completely at one with the
underwater world while submerged beneath the surface of the ocean.Ê
Set with the resort’s renowned house reef one side, and a clear lagoon
on the other, diners enjoy their meal within Ithaa’s translucent shell
as the underwater drama unfolds on all sides.

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Naturally the food will be as spectacular as the underwater setting,
explains Schieck, “In such a unique restaurant we wanted to create a
distinctive cuisine, which is why we’ve decided to offer ‘contemporary
Maldivian cuisine’ as a theme.Ê 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.Ê Nobody
else has done this before and we’re very excited about it.”

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While the cuisine is dedicated to the fine balance of western food items with a Maldivian flavour, the wine concept is equally exciting;
offering diners the perfect opportunity to discover the wines of the
prestigious Champagne house Louis Roederer.Ê

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Ithaa is reached by a wooden walkway from the nearby over-water Sunset
Grill Restaurant.Ê 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 à la carte menu is served.Ê Seating only
14 people, Ithaa offers one of the most intimate and exclusive dining
experiences in the world.

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This innovative restaurant is the first of its kind in the world, and
is part of a US $25 million re-build of Rangalifinolhu Island, one of the twin islands that make up Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa.Ê This
re-build includes the construction of 79 of the most luxurious Beach
Villas in the country as well as the Spa Village, a self-contained,
over-water ‘resort-within-a-resort’ consisting of a spa, restaurant
and 21 villas.

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* Ithaa (pronounced eet-ha) means ‘pearl’ in the language of the
Maldives, Dhivehi.
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