Ithaa, which means "
pearl" in Dhivehi, is the world's premier mostly acrylic undersea restaurant, secured five metres below sea level, at the "Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa" (soon to be the "Conrad Maldives Rangali Island") in Rangalifinolhu, Maldives. The five-by-nine meter restaurant has a capacity of 14 people and is encased in [http://www.reynoldspolymer.com R-Cast] acrylic which is a transparent acrylic roof offering 270° panoramicview to its customers. The restaurant was designed and constructed by M.J. Murphy Ltd. - a design consultancybased in New Zealand- and was opened on April 15, 2005. Meals range in cost from US$120.00 (lunch for hotel guests on Full Board meal plan) [http://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/content/MLEHITW/media/pdf/en_MLEHITW_ithaalunchmenu.pdf] to US$250.00 (dinner for hotel guests on Bed & Breakfast meal plan) [http://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/content/MLEHITW/media/pdf/en_MLEHITW_ithaadinnermenu.pdf] .
Ithaa's entrance is a spiral staircase in a
thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty. The tsunamiwhich followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquaketopped out at 0.3m below the staircase entrance, and caused no damage to the restaurant.
In February 2004 M.J. Murphy Ltd. was approached by
Crown Companyin the Maldivesto make a unique underwater restaurant. The Crown Company, owner of Rangali Island, leases the island to Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. Initially Crown envisioned the underwaterrestaurant with straight walls and glasswindows. Later they came to favour Mike Murphy's (of M.J. Murphy Ltd.) [http://www.reynoldspolymer.com] R-Cast™] acrylic tunnel. This tunnel was designed for the Kuala LumpurNational Science Centre, also the world’s largest aquarium tunnel.
Work on technical
designs and drawings for Ithaa started in March 2004.
Murphy initially planned to build the
structureon the beachof Rangali. Once constructed, Ithaa would be winched into the water. Technical challenges, limited resources, and quality control problems in building a structure of 175 tonnes in the Maldives were foreseen. Hence, a decision was made to build Ithaa in Singaporeinstead.
In May 2004, its construction began in Singapore. In October 2004 the construction work was completed, including installation of five-meter-wide acrylic arches,
air conditioningand electrical ducts.
November 1, 2004, Ithaa was lifted onto an ocean-going barge to be transported to the Maldives. It took 16 days to arrive. At this point, Ithaa weighed 175 tonnes.
November 19, 2004Ithaa was "sunk" with the help of 85 tonnes of sand ballast loaded into its belly. It was precisely maneuvered onto four steel piles which had been vibro-hammered four to five meters into the seabed. It was then secured to the steel piles with concrete.
The estimated life span of the restaurant is 20 years.
The hotel ("Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa") occupies two private islands [http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/MLEHITW-Hilton-Maldives-Resort-Spa-Rangali-Island/index.do] and has nine restaurants including the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant [http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/MLEHITW-Hilton-Maldives-Resort-Spa-Rangali-Island/dining.do] .
* [http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/dining.jhtml?ctyhocn=MLEHITW Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa Rangali Island Official Site]
* [http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/154000437/4022883.search?query=ithaa+and+restaurant+and+hilton News on hospitalitynet.org]
* [http://www.mjmurphy.co.nz/Projects/UnderwaterRestaurants/tabid/300/Default.aspx The role of M.J. Murphy Ltd.]
* [http://www.hospitalitynet.org/file/152001987.pdf Ithaa Menu]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5747320972563736408 Inside video of Ithaa] -
* [http://www.eladerezo.com/curiosidades/el-primer-restaurante-submarino.html Ithaa info in Spanish Blog]
* [http://www.fundistraction.com/2007/04/underwater-restaurant.html Underwater Restaurant at the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa]
* [http://www.reynoldspolymer.com Reynolds Polymer Technology R-Cast]
* [http://ceslava.com/blog/un-restaurante-bajo-el-mar-ithaa-undersea/ Vídeo, imágenes e información en español]
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