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It’s hard to imagine anything better than an ocean-view villa in the Maldives or in the South Pacific. For true sea-loving travellers, however, the best views aren’t over the ocean, but under it. That’s why a handful of luxury resorts around the world have dug deep — way deep — under the sea to create underwater suites, restaurants, lounges and more to offer guests the ultimate experiences of wining, dining and even sleeping with the fishes. Here are six such hotels sure to inspire your inner mermaid.
1. Subsix Restaurant, Niyama
The Maldivian private-island resort of Niyama takes guests on an underwater culinary adventure every night at its Subsix restaurant. Located roughly 6 meters below the surface of the sea, the elegant restaurant allows diners to get up-close and personal with marine life, displaying parrotfish, moray eels, rainbow-colored butterflyfish and more through floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. You can also glimpse resident hawksbill turtles while sipping cocktails at the impressive bar draped with shimmering waves of aquamarine capiz shells.
2. Manta Resort, Pemba Island
The underwater villa at Tanzania’s Manta Resort on Pemba Island offers the best of the marine-life-rich Blue Hole. The three-story floating accommodation — located only 2 minutes by boat from the rest of the hotel — is a marvel both above and below the sea. A sea-level pavillion offers shaded lounging and dining, while a rooftop deck is perfect for sunbathing and stargazing. But the real attraction is the underwater bedroom, which features windows that wrap nearly 360 degrees for a colorful display of the reserve’s reef fish, squid, octopus and jellyfish from every angle.
3. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Claiming to be the world’s first — and only — all-glass underwater dining room, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island gives diners a true aquarium experience. Completely transparent arched walls and ceilings offer unobstructed 180-degree sea views, with hundreds of fish swimming alongside and overhead as diners indulge on six-course meals. The restaurant, whose name means “mother of pearl" in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, can also be booked for private breakfasts, or, for those who wish to sleep with the fishes, converted into an overnight guestroom.
4. Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
The floor-to-ceiling windows in the Neptune and Poseidon Suites at Atlantis the Palm Dubai give overnight guests a view directly into a manmade lagoon teeming with 65,000 marine animals. Colourful fish and magnificent manta rays cavort right outside the suites’ dining areas, bedrooms and even the deep-soaking bathtubs. For those in search of an even more immersive experience, the resort also leads visitors on snorkeling and diving expeditions that explore the lagoon and its inhabitants.
5. Blue Lounges, Ponant Explorer
Ponant has long set the bar for luxury cruising with its sleek yacht-like vessels, exquisite culinary offerings and exotic itineraries. Now the French company is offering something exceptional for the sea-faring set with the announcement of its new Blue Lounges, debuting this summer on the brand’s highly anticipated Explorer ships. The underwater multisensory lounges will feature two glass portholes shaped like the eyes of a whale looking out to the marine world. Digital screens will show live feeds from three underwater cameras, while a state-of-the-art sound system will utilise hydrophones (underwater microphones) to carry the natural symphony of the sea into the lounge. Guests will be fully immersed when resting on the lounge’s “body-listening sofas," which will subtly vibrate in unison with the sounds emitted from the undersea world outside.
6. Spa, Huvafen Fushi
When Huvafen Fushi first opened in the Maldives in 2004, the resort’s underwater spa made plenty of waves. More than a decade later, the property’s submerged treatment rooms, located 8 metres below the surface of the sea, are still the only ones of their kind in the world. Reached by a 91m overwater promenade, the spa offers scrubs, wraps, massages and facials in a glass-enclosed oasis through which visitors can glimpse fish scuttling to and fro and sunlight shimmering through an ethereal azure glow. This is one spa experience we recommend keeping your eyes open for.