Ithaa


Ithaa

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° panoramic view to its customers. The restaurant was designed and constructed by M.J. Murphy Ltd. - a design consultancy based 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 tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake topped out at 0.3m below the staircase entrance, and caused no damage to the restaurant.

Conception

In February 2004 M.J. Murphy Ltd. was approached by Crown Company in the Maldives to make a unique underwater restaurant. The Crown Company, owner of Rangali Island, leases the island to Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. Initially Crown envisioned the underwater restaurant with straight walls and glass windows. 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 Lumpur National Science Centre, also the world’s largest aquarium tunnel.

Work on technical designs and drawings for Ithaa started in March 2004.

Construction

Murphy initially planned to build the structure on the beach of 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 Singapore instead.

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 conditioning and electrical ducts.

On 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.

On November 19, 2004 Ithaa 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

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] .

External links

* [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] - Google Video
* [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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