In most spas, the obligatory jacuzzi for some soothing bubble relaxation is tucked away in some back corner. I’ve enjoyed some massage treatments over the water on open pavilions, You & Me’s spa jacuzzi is the first I’ve come across with such pride of place. Sunset facing too!
In the Instagram era, if you don’t get your social snaps, then did you even go on holiday. Now nearly every resort offers a photo point (motivated by the free publicity as they almost always have the name of the resort plastered prominently on them. But no one has more than You & Me with its five different points:
- Arrival logo (below)
- Lagoon logo
- Frame (above)
- Swing (bottom)
- Special hammock (coming soon)
The snappiest resort in the Maldives.
No matter how many toppings or how exotic the flavours, I have not come across any item on the menu as exotic as You & Me’s underwater restaurant H2O – plankton! More for a whale shark’s palette than appetite as it was presented in an eye-dropper bottle as part of the seafood platter. You sprinkle the “plankton” on the delicacies for that extra bit of taste of the sea. It didn’t really taste of anything other than just some seawater, but I guess that for mantas and other filter feeders, to them its all just sea water to them too. Something small (actually microscopic) before the big feast of Thanksgiving tomorrow.
All underwater restaurants are stunning experiences, but they often come at an equally eye-watering expense. For starters, most are found at super-premium resorts that start at $1000/night. Then, enjoying the restaurant is an equally premium supplement to your already hefty holiday bill. When we visited You & Me, we were struck by how many luxury details the resort featured while its price was a relatively manageable by mere mortals. No part of the property more exemplified this reasonably priced luxury than their H20 underwater restaurant.
- “Six-metres underwater, almost half a kilometre away from the pearly shores of our island is our greatest gift – H2O, the world’s best underwater restaurant, conceived by world-renowned designer Daniele Lago. With room for twenty-six guests, H2O’s seventy-four feet acrylic glass exterior is made to mesmerise. Nestled in a lush coral garden six metres below the sea this enchanting restaurant draws all manner of marine life to delight viewers.”
The first feature makes the restaurant truly accessible in the literal sense – a lift. For anyone who might have difficulty with the circular stairway descending into the depths of the resort’s lagoon, they have the option of taking the restaurant’s lift. Rare enough in Maldives resorts in general (I only recall seeing one at Velaa),
But the “accessibility” that benefits most of us is H2O’s relatively affordable price. I sort of hesitate to call out H20s “affordability” as its defining characteristic. The description might come across as a low-end version when it is absolutely anything but that. The dinner was sumptuously gourmet quality with a full menu of choice delicacies (see photo below). As our tour report made clear, we were utterly enchanted by our evening there (with the mesmerizing dinner show by the resident octopus).
The facility itself stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all of the other Maldives underwater restaurants at the super deluxe properties. In fact, its semi-circle fully glass arch is the state-of-the in these underwater rooms with only Hurawalhi and Rangalhi sharing this totally immersive submersion. The restaurant also includes some special aspects which make it distinctive in its own right – a reef restoration collaboration, a meteorological station, maybe the most unusual ingredient I have ever had in a meal anywhere not just the Maldives (stay tuned).
But if there is one aspect which will have the most impact on the most people it will be its quite reasonable price. I have simply met too many people who passed up the chance to experience this bucket list activity at other resorts because the price was too dear. To save money, they go in and have a glance and take a few selfies, but that is not even a fraction of the joy and adventure of spending a few hours under the ocean enjoying the toings and froings of the sea creatures like you were some sort of fellow resident. The big advantage of diving over snorkelling is that you get to linger underwater and see the creatures at their level (rather than just looking down on them). But even with diving you are limited to 60 minutes (not to mention all the faff and expense). At H20 you get to savour hours of undersea loitering. And all the while, lingering over delectable dishes and sipping fine wines or decadent cocktails as bonus treats to the experience.
The prices are $280 per person for dinner and $180 per person for lunch (we definitely recommend the dinner as you get to experience the transition from day to night of the aquatic world). It’s not cheap, but it’s considerably less expensive than the other alternatives in the Maldives. And remember, it’s not just a meal. It is a unique experience of a lifetime that includes and is accented by a meal.
H20 is the underwater restaurant by You & Me and the rest of us.
Super-deluxe for the rest of us. Have you ever yearned for the stylishly exotic Swiss Family Robinson chic of Soneva/Gili/Six Senses, but couldn’t swing the budget? Or fantasized about dining under the waves in an undersea restaurant like Conrad/Kihavah/Hurawalhi, but shrunk away due to the price? How about enjoying the personalized service of a la carte dining, but worried about bill shock at the end of the stay? Or having your own personal butler to help ensure every detail of your dream trip is attended to? You & Me resort provides so many features of the super-premium experience, but at a more conventional 5-star price (rooms starting under $1000/night).
The a la carte approach is good for the environment as food wastage is dramatically reduced, but it is actually good for the guest as well. We always find ourselves simply over-eating at the ubiquitous buffets. You just can’t help yourself making one last trip for “just a taste” of that inviting dish you saw, or “just a sliver” of the dessert you couldn’t fit on your plate. We found ourselves enjoying healthy meals without the post-prandial bloating and regret when we avail ourselves at the troughs of buffets.
Their H2O underwater restaurant was one of the most memorable activities of our two decades of visiting the Maldives. The facility is a sterling example of these special portals to the sub-aquatic wonderland of the Maldives with broad, open glass including an entirely glass semi-circle section at the far end. The meal is a luxurious gourmet meal featuring a range of seafood delights. Yes, apropos to the venue, but we did feel a little self-conscious eating in front of all these aquatic creatures. But the star of the night was the special appearance by the most charismatic visitor of all, a resident octopus (see below). He entertained us with chameleon colours and dazzling shape-shifting. He scooted from coral cropping to coral cropping enveloping it and transforming to match it. The surrounding fish seemed to take as much interest in his activity as we diners did. We thought that maybe he was trying to suck out fish babies hiding in the coral and the fish were trying to ward him off. It turns out that he was actually blowing into the coral to flush out stuff hiding and settled there, and the other fish were trying to steal some of the scattered pickings.
You & Me has been designed with the same emphasis on flair as their sister resort, Cocoon. For example, H20 was designed by the same Italian designer who crafted much of Cocoon’s distinctive look, Daniele Lago. For people looking for opulent luxury at an affordable price, You & Me offers the aesthetic brio and many amenities of the finest resorts at a more manageable price.