The Maldives is one of the most idyllic places on the planet and, soon, diners at one of its luxury resorts will be able to take in not just views across the crystal clear Indian Ocean, but views under it too. It is claimed that the restaurant at the Hurawalhi resort will be the world's largest underwater restaurant.
The Hurawalhi Island Resort and Spa is located in the Lhaviyani Atoll of the Maldives archipelago. Currently still under construction, it will eventually offer fifteen 105-sq m (1,130-sq ft) Ocean Sunset Pool Villas for guests to stay in, each with high-end interiors, private sun decks with plunge pools, and views of the ocean and the and the Maldivian sunsets.
The resort's underwater restaurant sits 5.8 m (19 ft) under the water. Comprised of a steel base with an acrylic dome, it will offer panoramic views to 24 guests when it is completed. Among the sights of the surrounding marine life that diners will be able to take in will be views of replanted corals, a variety of fish species, stingrays and sharks.
Food for the restaurant will be prepared on land and delivered to guests via a stairwell, which provides access to the restaurant from a nearby jetty. It will also be possible to use the space to host wedding ceremonies or as a honeymoon suite, much as is done with the underwater room at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort.
The restaurant was actually constructed in New Zealand and, given that it measures 18 x 5 m (59 x 16 ft) and weighs 410 tonnes (452 tons), actually getting it to the Maldives was a logistical feat in itself. Shipping and logistics services firm GAC explains that the delivery took 12 months of planning for the delivery alone.
To begin, the structure had to be transported along 8 km (5 mi) of roads on a trailer. Four trucks were involved, with two pulling, one pushing and an additional one on standby for backup. After a 12-hour operation, the structure was ready to be lifted onto a Jumbo Maritime vessel to be shipped to the Maldives.
Once it arrived at the Hurawalhi resort, the structure was lowered into place with the help of engineers and divers. It rests on steel piles that were constructed in advance last year. The restaurant took 10 months to construct. Both it and the Hurawalhi resort are due to open later this year.