The Reef Outside The World’s Largest All-Glass Undersea Restaurant 5.8 Is In Bloom

Leaving her diving equipment behind on the jetty, Paige Bennett tingles with excitement as she briskly walks to the front window of the undersea restaurant to show the miniature reef ecosystem that she has created. ‘It was always a hope of mine that I would come to 5.8 one afternoon to check on the coral growth and see a giant moray eel making a home in the reef – and look, this is already the second one!’

Paige Bennett, Hurawalhi Island Resort
Paige Bennett, Hurawalhi Island Resort

Paige, an enthusiastic diving instructor with broad marine conservation experience, started an initiative of great ecological value back in May 2016: coral gardening outside 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. ‘Prodivers and I wanted to create an extension of the existing reef that would represent, on a small scale, the beauty of the Maldives’ underwater while at the same time reviving marine life that had, at the time, been weakened by the El Niño. With a carefully devised plan of action, a team of divers dislodged some blocks of coral that showed few signs of life and placed them onto the shelves surrounding the restaurant. Just one day after the first coral planting was complete, the area was covered with damsel fish, wrasse were feeding in the sand, and pairs of butterflyfish were hovering over the reef. ‘Fish life around the restaurant is nothing short of amazing’, adds Mie Shaahh, a local who was instrumental in the project. ‘Dreams don’t work unless you do ‘- and what a dreamy hustle-bustle of marine life it is!

Hurawalhi Island Resort
Hurawalhi Island Resort

Hurawalhi Island Resort is located inside a reef channel through which nutrient-rich water gets funnelled into the atoll. 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, in particular, lies in a bay that experiences a constant backwash current, creating a potential for the reefs to thrive. Diners at the world’s largest and deepest undersea restaurant will not only be in for a variety of treats served on their plates, but will also get to admire amazing views of the new coral reef that Paige and the team brought to life. At the moment, you can see more than 100 different species of fish living on the reef, including everyone’s favourite clownfish. ‘Coral bleaching had devastating consequences on anemones. Water temperature of 32 degrees Celsius induced stress on anemones, causing them to release photosynthetic algae they use to create energy into the water.’ Anemones became white and shriveled, but within a couple of days the team noticed that the 20 bleached anemones were turning brown again and within 2 weeks they had become healthy and full with clownfish laying eggs around them. The new location with favourable currents and temperature helped them to regain the algae quickly enough to prevent them from dying.

Hurawalhi Island Resort
Hurawalhi Island Resort

An additional piece in Hurawalhi’s ‘sustaining the reef’ jigsaw puzzle is a sunken shipwreck, an artificial reef that already sees some vibrant marine life activity. Paige observes that the life around the wreck is different from other parts of the reef: ‘Trumpetfish, moray eels, giant pufferfish and small groups of snappers have already made it their home. Hopefully we will have sponges and soft corals covering it in a few years.’

Hurawalhi Island Resort
Hurawalhi Island Resort

‘No matter what time of the day you dine at the restaurant, you can see the most beautiful array of marine life in all colours of the rainbow. There are oriental sweetlips hovering under a table coral, giant trevallies hunting, jellyfish bioluminescence-ing as they drift by in the current – I could list all of the species that one can expect to see during a meal, but I don’t want to spoil the magic that’s waiting here.’

2 tasting menus and coral garden view, please!

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Continues to Enhance its Inspired Health and Wellness Offerings

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is continuing to distinguish itself as one of the Maldives’ leading resorts by setting the trend for wellness and well-being in the destination. Providing more than just a ‘fly and flop’ holiday, the resort continues to evolve its healthy dining and wellness options, as well as offering an array of Stay Inspired experiences; a nod towards the booming world-wide health, wellness, and fitness trend.  According to Global Wellness Data, the number of wellness tourism trips is expected to grow twice as fast annually in comparison to international trips overall. Increasingly, guests are looking to return from holiday feeling refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated and this what Conrad Maldives excels at.

Mandhoo Restaurant Fish Feeding, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Mandhoo Restaurant Fish Feeding, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Mandhoo Spa Restaurant

Arguably one of the most beautiful dining spots in the Maldives, set on stilts in the lagoon, Mandhoo is an over-water restaurant serving organic dishes designed to balance your energy flow. Based on natural elements of air, water, fire, earth and plant the menu uses local, organic ingredients to energise, nourish, detoxify, relax, and fortify the body. Executive Chef of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Marco Amarone’s cooking technique pays close attention to specific tastes, temperature, moisture level, and density as they all affect the mind and body in different ways. To accompany the selection of these delicious and nutritious dishes, Mandhoo offers a Lassi drink selection based on traditional Indian recipes, enhanced with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. These ingredients are known to promote digestive enzymes, and aid digestion.

Breakfast Boosters

Conrad Maldives understands that it’s important to start the day the right way. The resort now provides guests with specialty morning juices at a dedicated breakfast juice bar in Atoll Market. The menu was designed by a professional nutritionist and naturopath and provides a combination of protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals –  all vital to good health. Guest favourites include:

  • Potassium Power – Carrots, spinach, celery ribs, and tomatoes crushed with parsley
  • Some Like It Hot – Fresh tomatoes, green and  red bell peppers, radish, and Tabasco
  • Summer Special – Fresh mangoes, cool spearmint leaves, low fat yoghurt, and honey

Hydroponic Herb Garden

As part of the resort’s strong commitment to sustainability, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has introduced a hydroponic herb garden, growing produce carefully chosen by the resort’s gardening team after researching what crops can be effectively grown using a hydroponics system in a tropical climate. The garden is now able to sustain all 12 restaurants and bars with ingredients including hot basil, mint, butter lettuce, lollo rosso lettuce, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and green capsicum. The use of the garden eliminates the cost of importing these items into the country.

Treatment rooms at The Over-Water Spa have glass floors so guests can watch fish swim past below them during the treatment, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Treatment rooms at The Over-Water Spa have glass floors so guests can watch fish swim past below them during the treatment, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Stay Inspired Experiences

Travelling is about more than just a destination; it’s about how you spend every moment. To ensure that guests make the most of their time in paradise, Conrad Hotels & Resorts has curated 1, 3, and 5-hour itineraries, so guests can make the most of their stay. Guests looking for a one-hour wellness experience can visit the meditation pavilion, where long time yogi Manesh Johny will help achieve inner tranquillity with either a sunset or sunrise yoga class. Manesh incorporates various elements of Flow, Hatha, and Vinyasa yoga for the ultimate in relaxation. For those with five hours to spare find inner peace and tranquillity with a one-of-a-kind Zen revelation at The Spa Retreat.  Located on the tip of Rangalifinolhu Island The Spa Retreat is a destination spa complete with 14 water villas and Mandhoo Spa Restaurant. The spa features an array of Maldivian indigenous therapies and treatments. The signature treatment is quintessentially Maldivian and inspired by the beauty regiment of the local women. The 90-minute treatment includes a massage using heated coconut sticks and an organic body scrub made from pineapple and papaya. Guests can follow their treatment with lunch at Mandhoo ultimate feel-good experience

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offers the popular Conrad Concierge mobile app, which gives global luxury travellers the ability to customize details of their hotel stay before, during, and after each visit via a smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s pre-selecting bath amenities or checking in while in-transit from the airport, guests can access a variety of features by using the app.

Double treatment room at The Spa Retreat, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Double treatment room at The Spa Retreat, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest loyalty program where guests who book directly through www.conradhotels.com have access to benefits including the digital Conrad Concierge app and complimentary Wi-Fi at 26 Conrad hotels.

To learn more about or connect with Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, please visit www.conradmaldives.com or call +960 668-0629. For more information about Conrad Hotels & Resorts, please visit news.conradhotels.com or follow us at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The world’s first undersea restaurant invites the world to celebrate the occasion on April 15, 2015 One decade ago, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island was spectacularly ‘sunk’ five metres into the waters of the Indian ocean and ever since it’s been the mecca for lovers of food, culture and architecture the world over. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Conrad Maldives will be hosting a Twitter Chat on Wednesday April 15, 2015 which will take place at 3pm GMT (10am EST). Conrad Maldives Rangali Island invites the world to join the conversation and celebrate the birthday of this world famous dining location by sharing their memories of Ithaa on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Throughout the week of Ithaa’s birthday, users are invited to share their photos and memories using the hashtag #IthaaTurns10 users.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Sitting like a pearl beneath the waves (Ithaa translates as ‘pearl’ in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi) the curved acrylic walls which give 180-degree panoramic views sets the trend for  unique dining. It became the world’s first aquarium-style undersea restaurant – indulging diners with stunning views of the surrounding lagoon, reefs and tropical fish. Consistently recognised as the most beautiful restaurant in the world, Ithaa is fast becoming a 21st Century travel icon, so it is no surprise it is regarded as one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive places to eat. “We are all excited to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of such an iconic restaurant” said Lyle Lewis, general manager, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. “I can think of no better way to celebrate such a momentous occasion than by sharing it with the whole world.” Envisioned by Mr. Ahmed Saleem of Crown Company PVT, owning company of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Mr. Saleem was inspired whilst travelling in Bali in 2001 and five years later Ithaa was brought to life by Mike Murphy of M J Murphy Limited in New Zealand who specialises in aquarium technology and at a cost of US $5 million, Ithaa took 85 tonnes of sand ballast (in sandbags) in order to be sunken onto the ocean bed. It wasn’t long before it became a cultural phenomenon and world-leader in beauty and cuisine that continues to intrigue and impress to this day. Program of Events

  • Memories of Ithaa – April 13-17, 2015

During the week of Ithaa’s 10th birthday, the resort will be posting content across its social media channels, inviting the world to share their memories of Ithaa and post photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Ithaa’s 10th Birthday Twitter Chat at 3pm GMT (11am EST) on Wed April 15, 2015

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (@ConradMaldives) invites the world to celebrate Ithaa’s 10th anniversary through a live Twitter Chat. This global discussion will encourage fans of Ithaa to share their memories, photos and stories of this world famous and iconic restaurant. Follow @ConradMaldives on Twitter and join the chat using #IthaaTurns10 on Wednesday April 15, 2015 at 3pm GMT/10am EST

  • Exclusive Winemaker Dinner presented by Château Margaux  – April 15, 2015

To coincide with the date the restaurant first opened its doors – April 15 – Ithaa will host a Château Margaux sommelier dinner. The unrivalled wine estate of Château Margaux dates back to the 17th Century and is renowned for its grapes as its prices. A bottle of 1787 Château Margaux was sold for $225,000 making it one of the world’s most expensive wines. This is the first time Château Margaux has been invited to host at Conrad Maldives. For more information about Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, visit www.conradhotels.com/maldives

World’s First Underwater Restaurant Celebrates Tenth Year Anniversary

Dining 16ft below sea level, at this exceptional Conrad restaurant in Maldives, will truly be an exceptional moment. Surrounded 180 degrees by coral reef and colorful fish myriads, Ithaa – the world’s first all-glass underwater restaurant offers an original and unique experience to enjoy a glass of champagne and enjoy fine food while staying dry.

This restaurant is a unique concept in the Maldives that offers a new dimension to the tropical paradise of this beautiful resort that stretches on two islands and has been voted “Best Resort World”, “Best Hotel in the Indian Ocean”, Conde Nast Traveler’s 2013 Gold List of the “Best 100 Hotels in the World”, “The World’s 10 Best Beach Hotels” and rated by the New York Daily News in 2014 as “The Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World”.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Located in the lagoon of the island of Rangalifinolhu. In the local language Dhivehi, Ithaa means ‘mother of pearl’. A name very appropriate. An intimate place in which fourteen guests can enjoy together this amazing room 5 meters by 9, cylindrical, fully transparent. Giving the feeling of being at one with the underwater world through the intimacy of the setting, the 180° vision and transparency effects. Offering a unique panoramic view from one side to the reef, and the other on the lagoon. A wide variety of fish each more bizarre than other swim near and in the evening, attracted by the ambient light, sharks, manta rays and other marine creatures sometimes come to watch the guests.

Access to the restaurant is via a wooden staircase in the restaurant on stilts near the beach. Before descending into the restaurant, a cocktail is offered to guests on the terrace of the Sunset Grill. Then the guests descend into the depths of the underwater world and discover a magical setting. In such an environment, nothing more exceptional than the restaurant’s unique fusion cuisine of Western and traditional dishes from the Maldives, along with their pricey vintage wines.

Ithaa’s official celebration is scheduled for April 15th of this year.

Here are some interesting facts about the restaurant:

• There has never been water inside Ithaa. It was built on dry land in Singapore and carefully dropped into the ocean in one piece.

• The total cost of building totalled about US$5 million.

• Ithaa Undersea Restaurant weighs 175 tonnes, with an additional 85 tonnes of sand ballast placed beneath the floor to weigh it down.

• At lunchtime, it is so bright inside Ithaa that diners and waiting staff need to wear sunglasses. Extra sunglasses are available in case a diner forgets theirs. The staff also offers a sunglasses cleaning service during lunch.

World-renowned wine-makers and chefs have flocked to Ithaa over the years.
Highlights are visits from:

Hubert de Billy from Pol Roger
Frederic Engerer of Chateau Latour
Damien Motte from Louis Roederer
Hubert de Boüard de Laforest of Chateau Angelus
Chef Mathieu Pacau of acclaimed Paris restaurant L’Ambroisie