World’s best underwater experiences
A brave new world of luxury holiday experiences is emerging in the majestic deep blue. Now you can eat, sleep, and play in underwater wonderlands designed with discerning guests in mind. Elisa Arsenis dives into the ocean to find the best on offer in the Maldives and Dubai.
Discover an enchanting underwater realm of magical sea life, exotic corals and crystal clear waters, coupled with refined luxury and accommodation to match. A relatively uncharted market, aquatic experiences are surfacing in enticing locations around the world, offering travellers one-of-a-kind experiences from underwater hotels and suites, to world-class restaurants, spas and bars – all with a pristine underwater location.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Known as the realm of barefoot luxury, this six-star property is a remote island haven, embracing aquatic life, nature and contemporary living. A unique blend of modern design and refined luxury, The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is tailored to suit the needs of the most discerning of patrons. Guests dine in the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, a world first with its 180-degree glass ceiling that provides unhindered views of thriving coral reef and surrounding marine life. Set five metres below sea level, the restaurant customarily renowned for its sensational Maldivian and Western fusion dining, was transformed for one night only into an underwater suite. It was done to promote Conrad Maldives’ ultimate escape from the frenzy of the World Cup Final in 2010 – offering instead to submerge partakers in a complete ocean wonderland. The fortunate guest gave praise reviews of the experience, however lack of bedroom facilities meant it could only be but a short- lived dream. Above the surface, Conrad Maldives’ Over-Water Spa also maintains undersea influences, with a divine spa menu and glass floors in treatment rooms giving seascape snapshots into the calming life below.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Enter the marvellous world of the Atlantis and experience unparalleled accommodation in the luxurious and intimate underwater suites fit for the gods of the ocean. Appropriately named, the Underwater Suites offer the perfect romantic hideaway in what feels like your very own underwater enclave. With a 24-hour personal butler service, your every wish is catered for on descent into this refined aquatic world. A luxury car transfer and VIP check-in is exclusive to guests of these super suites, and the breathtaking views from the bedroom and bathroom are simply awe inspiring. With floor-to-ceiling lagoon views, you’ll feel immersed in the ancient ruins of the mythical lost city of Atlantis as 65,000 exotic marine inhabitants swim past your window. The opulent underwater suites are set across three floors with a spacious living area, dining table, separate majlis (sitting area), private chef service and elegantly appointed bedrooms with ensuites. Guests have access to the Imperial Club, with its all-day snacks, pre-dinner cocktails and canapés, and the ShuiQi Spa & Fitness Centre complete with steam, sauna and jet pool for the ultimate relaxation.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel, this seven-star wonder encapsulates refined luxury and the enchanting world below the surface of the Persian Gulf. A simply exceptional dining experience, Al Mahara is one of the hotel’s signature restaurants with stunning underwater views to fascinate you while you dine on the finest cuisine. Specialising in seafood, Al Mahara promises a new-age fine dining experience that will tantalise the palate with rich flavours. No matter where you are seated, the remarkable underwater view of the vibrant sea life can be enjoyed with a floor-to-ceiling aquarium stretching across the whole restaurant. Al Mahara is a culinary destination, priding itself on impeccable service, award-winning chefs and premium fine wines.
Pearl Spa, Maldives
Huvafen Fushi Maldives has a world-first undersea spa with treatments enriched with the ocean’s natural minerals at Pearl Spa where the treatment rooms look and feel like underwater enclaves of pure indulgence. Ethereal fabrics mirror ocean kelp, calming sounds echo waves gently lapping on the shore and exotic fish drift by; you’re transported into another world. Even the cushions evoke the sensation of soft sea sponges. The team at Pearl offers tailored treatments promising replenishment, recovery and growth. Above-water treatment rooms are also available with glass floors so you can catch a sneak peek of what lies beneath.
Anantara Kihavah Villas, Maldives
This idyllic haven offers underwater indulgence with a difference. Guests descend to the ocean’s delightful depths and experience underwater dining at its finest with the resort’s signature restaurant, Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky. It brings two worlds to life with an over-and-underwater dining concept unlike any other. Here, you’ll gaze upon hundreds of exotically coloured fish as you savour a mouth-watering dish (the roast lamb with rosemary grilled on a Himalayan salt block is a standout), accompanied by a fine Shiraz from the underwater wine cellar. The decadent molten chocolate cake is an absolute must for dessert. No request is too difficult, no demand deemed impossible, and guests can choose from degustation menus paired with premium wines, or classic renditions with a modern twist on the decadent à la carte menu. Impeccable service matches this outstanding dining experience, one which you’ll surely be talking about for a long time to come.
With waves of colour, international DJs, 360-degree glass walls, and a stunning undersea location, this is a one-of-a-kind club experience. Located six metres beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean in the Maldives is Subsix, the world’s only underwater nightclub. Part of Niyama Maldives resort, and only accessible for those in the know by boat, this intimate club has a classy, yet chilled-out atmosphere, offering comfortable lounges, tables, a bar… and unobstructed views of the majestic and mysterious marine life and coral reef surrounds.
Enjoy a champagne cocktail as you immerse yourself in this mermaid’s sanctuary, and groove to the sounds of the internationally recognised resident DJs at Subsix. Having played at legendary clubs and red carpet events around the world, a highlight being London Fashion Week, these resident DJs are at the top of their game.
The Manta Resort, Zanzibar
On top of their seafront villas and stunning garden rooms, the all-inclusive Manta Resort in Zanzibar also offers an experience like no other. Their exclusive Underwater Room is a private floating haven that has elements both above and below sea level. Sunbath and stargaze from the top deck, and sleep with the fishes in your bedroom which is submerged four metres underwater. It’s like having your own private aquarium and a perfect choice for a unique, romantic getaway. Many choose to spend a night in the special room, adding an additional night on to their Manta Resort visit.