Art below sea level in the Maldives

The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is located on the Shaviyani Atoll in North Maldives.
Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Because of it pristine natural beauty and abundance of sea life, the Maldives has become a favorite for development of underwater suites and restaurants. Now, one of the area's newest properties is adding to the list with an underwater art installation.

The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, which opened just a few weeks ago, features a sculpture garden by underwater naturalist and artist Jason deCaires Taylor that also doubles as the Maldives' first coral restoration project, according to Fairmont.

The "coralarium," situated in the center of the largest developed coral lagoons in the Maldives, is a semisubmerged metal cube with coral shaped holes that lets marine life past through. Within the partially open walls are a series of sculptures, some of which can be seen from above the water, others are partially or completely submerged.

Fairmont says the installation builds on its commitment to sustainability.

"Our resort and the destination itself are inextricably linked," said Denis Dupart, the resort's general manager (the resort's name means secret water island).

"We hope to raise awareness that encourages long-term reef protection and sustainable tourism."

The resort has also gained acclaim for its design: It made Architectural Digest's list of the 15 best designed hotels opening this summer.

Located on the Shaviyani Atoll in North Maldives, it features 112 beach, overwater and tented jungle villas, each with a private pool, and they offer different options for exploring the island's topography. The tented villas offer extra privacy and "a romantic castaway vibe," according to the hotel.

Designed by Hirsch Bedner Associations, it is the only hotel on the island. Its design was inspired by objects found on the island and features copper bathroom fittings and carved wood detailing on furniture that give it a bohemian rustic chic vibe.

Manta rays, turtles, large pods of bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins are regular visitors to the resort's 1,400-acre lagoon, and the resort offers activities beyond the sculpture garden, including local cooking classes, an art studio, a spa, sunset fishing, picnics and overnight cruises.

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