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04 April 2014

Dining with the sharks, under the water in the Maldives


The famous photo - the restaurant
This is, possibly, one of the most incredible experiences I ever had. A once in a lifetime moment that can't be easily replicated. I was floating, day dreaming, completely frozen at the incredible sights.

It is one of the most famous hotels in the world, most of us have seen it at least once in some of the typical lists: 

"The 10 most romantic hotels in the world" 

"The top restaurant experiences"

"The most extraordinary dining experiences"

and so on.

The hotel, two islands: family / couples

The Conrad Maldives certainly is an incredible hotel. From the over water villas with their own outdoor jaccuzi to the chill out music played by the beach's infinity pool at sunset and the breakfast in bed served by a paddle boat. I have written about the resort in my Favorites page for those interested to read more but I can summarize it with: absolutely breath-taking


Infinity pool

Outdoor jaccuzi on overwater villa
But lots of hotels in the Maldives, Bora Bora, Maldives, Seychelles, etc. have over water villas and all the rest of the features the Conrad has, what truly sets it apart from the rest is their underwater restaurant and, nowadays, room. Simply put, you descend a couple of meters under the water's surface and enter a glass pavilion surrounded by the wild sea water. Wherever you look 360 degrees all you can see is the stunning underworld of the Maldives.

From then onwards prepare to watch all sorts of marine life just as you would see snorkelling or diving. Isn't the Maldives known for incredible diving, you would ask. 

Absolutely!

So try to imagine what it feels like to be in a restaurant, to look through the window and to see a shark slowly swimming past your table, above you, to the side...then a swirl of small silver fish, then all of the colourful fish that inhabit that part of the world. And to know that, unlike other restaurants, you are not in an aquarium, you are in the wild!

A shark!

The hotel recommends you go there early, before sunset, so you can enjoy a drink while the sun slowly sets behind the horizon. It may be one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see, even if you can't actually see the sun.

And little by little the room becomes darker until all you can see is the lights of the restaurant illuminating the outside waters.

The fish are probably attracted by the light or perhaps, some cynics would say, they are fed by the hotel's staff so they are always close to the windows. It could be. However, snorkelling off the beach that same morning I saw so many corals, fish, crustaceans, sharks and turtles that I am tempted to believe, partially because I want it to be true, that the fish are there because that is their life and you are just lucky to be able to dine with them.

Fish swimming by
In this dynamic and incredible setting you easily forget about dinner.

Was the food good? I can honestly and openly say, without embarrassment, that I can't remember :) 

But it must have been, the hotel had delicious food in all of their restaurants and specializes in out of the ordinary culinary experiences. You could have a wine degustation menu with pairing and accompanying explanations on the wine regions underground, in the cellar (they have the largest cellar in the Maldives); a tepanyaki dinner on the sand, under the stars, room service dinner on your villa...you name it

And what about the price? We spent close to USD1,000 on dinner, just on dinner alone. Yes, USD1,000 for two!

It is indeed not a cheap hotel and you can easily expect to pay USD1,000 for two (with wine and all the treats) on any of these "experience" dinners, at least when I was there 4 years ago.

Is it worth it? 

Hotel boat to go from main island to couples only

If you can afford it, go for it, the moment will be so magical you will remember it for years to come

Clarification: this is by no means a sponsored post. I travelled there with Emirates, using my miles, then used my Hilton points acummulated over years of business travel, to book a room at the Conrad and then upgraded myself to an overwater villa. All the consumption, including this dinner, was paid in full