Deep-Sea Dining Or Sky-High Tea? Pick Your Adventure


FORGET WATCHING ANIMAL PLANET as you hurriedly wolf down dinner in front of the TV. What if you could watch actual flora and fauna, in its natural environment, as you dined on a sumptuous multi-course meal? 

On the private island of Rangali off the Maldives’ Alif Dhaal Atoll, you can do just that, at the world’s first underwater restaurant. Part of the Conrad Rangali, which frequently makes it to the “Best Hotels In The World” lists, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant invites patrons to take in the marvels of the Indian Ocean — from a wholly novel view.

Located five meters below sea level, Ithaa is an intimate space that allows only up to 14 seated guests at a time. Reservations, needless to say, are a must. As is the financial wherewithal to shell out at around Rs 25,000 per person for a full meal, not inclusive of taxes. The menu in recent years has switched to mostly Continental fare, albeit with Asian influences. Lunch or dinner at Ithaa, for instance, might be a four-course set menu; typically, dishes like a snow crab and hamachi salad starter, a sweet corn veloute with duck tortellini, a veal tenderloin or lobster main course, and a strawberry mille-feuille for dessert, would make an appearance on your table. Or you could opt to solely take in Ithaa’s array of spirits during champagne hour or imbibe a round of mid-morning cocktails (You’re on holiday! Live a little!). The restaurant describes its offerings as “fusion menus matched with fine wines”.

While all of this sounds absolutely scrumptious, the fact is that the food and drink aren’t the main draw at Ithaa, it’s the experience. As you take your seat in the restaurant, all around you, the azure shades of the ocean form a serene and scenic cocoon. Ithaa promises a 270 degree panoramic view of the underwater world, and that’s exactly what you get — unmissable views of coral gardens, and shoals of inquisitive fish that swim inches away from your face. The walls and curved roof of Ithaa are made of clear acrylic, and the minimalistic seating arrangement is meant not to detract from what’s outside, so there’s little to keep you from expressing suitable wonder at the oceanic wonders that unfold. 

 Ithaa (which translates to mother-of-pearl in Dhivehi language) is only one of seven fine-dining restaurants at the Conrad Rangali, and it is available for private events. So if you’re looking for an unparalleled anniversary or birthday gift for your food and ocean-loving partner, you know what to save up for.


IF YOU'VE EVER WONDERED what it feels like to eat as a bird high up in its nest does, then you don’t need to tax your imagination all that much. Perhaps your credit card limit — just a bit. Ninety minutes away from Bangkok, the Soneva Kiri Eco Resort in Thailand’s Ko Kut (Trat province), offers the chance to dine like the birds do, in a treetop restaurant that mimics a nest-like experience. Appropriately enough, this in-house restaurant is known as the Bird’s Nest Restaurant, and it makes full use of the ancient Koh Kood rainforest within which Soneva Kiri is located. 

If heights make you nervous, then this “treepod dining” is probably not for you. But if you revel in being high above the ground, with a bird’s eye view of the world of mere mortals below, then this is among the most remarkable dining experiences you could ask for. This is how it works: once you are seated in a woven bamboo pod — it is roomy enough for a compact dining table and benches on either side; the effect is that of a diner’s booth that can seat up to four — the staff hoist it 16 feet above the ground, until you are overlooking the rainforest canopy and the gentle swell of the ocean. As you take in the stunning views, your waiter rides a zip line through the trees to bring you your meal. 

The menu varies, depending on which of two available options you pick: there’s the “gourmet picnic”, that lasts for an hour, and the “luxury picnic” for two hours. Expect to be plied with Champagne and Prosecco, even as your server ferries bamboo containers filled with finger foods, fresh seasonal fruit, a selection of breads and salads, and Thai delicacies. At the end of your scheduled time, the pod is lowered back to the ground.