World's First Underwater Residence to Open in the Maldives

PRNewsfoto/Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
PRNewsfoto/Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

If you’ve ever wanted to live out your childhood dream of sleeping under the sea, here’s your chance. The Maldives is already home to several underwater restaurants, an underwater spa, and underwater guest rooms, but now it's getting its first fully submerged villa.

Dubbed “The Muraka,” or coral in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, this exclusive residence will be located at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, and is slated to open this November. The tropical nation, famed for its marine life and coral reefs, is a popular luxury honeymoon destination.

While other Maldivian resorts offer underwater bedrooms, those look out onto man-made aquariums, according to Architectural Digest. What sets the Conrad’s resort apart is that it sits on the ocean floor, 16.4 feet underwater. It’s located in the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, one of 26 natural atolls in the Maldives, known for being one of the best places to view whale sharks. The Muraka, which can accommodate up to nine guests, has two levels—one above water, and one below—and includes a powder room, gym, kitchen, bar, living room, dining area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, butler’s quarters, and private security quarters.

So how much will all that go for? When it opens, the starting rate is estimated to be $50,000 a night, according to Architectural Digest. The Conrad brand has an affinity for underwater spaces. It brought the first underwater restaurant, Ithaca, to the Maldives 13 years ago, and since then many other hotel chains have followed suit.

Dubai also started unveiling its “Floating Seahorse” underwater villas in 2016, but not all of those are available yet, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

See below for more photos of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

Meet LiLou: The World's First Airport Therapy Pig

Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images
Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images

There's a new reason to get to the airport early—you might run into a therapy pig who's there to make your trip a little easier. As Reuters reports, LiLou the Juliana pig is a member of San Francisco International Airport's "Wag Brigade," a therapy animal program designed to ease stress and anxiety in travelers.

Aside from her snout and potbelly, LiLou can be recognized by her captain's hat and red "hoof" polish. She spends the day with guests who are happy to take a break from the pressures of traveling. She might comfort them by posing for a selfie, playing a song on her toy keyboard, or offering them a head to pet.

After bringing joy to people's day, LiLou goes home to her San Francisco apartment where she lives with her owner, Tatyana Danilova. In her free time, she goes on daily walks and snacks on organic vegetables. She even has her own Instagram account.

Airports around the world are embracing the benefits therapy animals can bring to customers. The Wag Brigade program at San Francisco includes a number of dogs, and earlier this year, the Aberdeen Airport in Scotland debuted its own "canine crew" of dogs trained to make travelers feel safe and happy. Therapy miniature horses have even been used at an airport in Kentucky. According to the San Francisco Airport, LiLiou is the world's first airport therapy pig.

To see LiLou turn on the charm, check out the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

The Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Each State

Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Greg Meland/iStock via Getty Images

In 2018, Americans took about 1.8 billion trips for leisure purposes alone, the U.S. Travel Association reports. But what types of attractions do they visit during those trips? Thanks to new data from Groupon and Viator, a TripAdvisor company, we now have the answer.

Map of the Northeast of the United States, showing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in that region
Groupon

Groupon mapped out each state’s most popular travel experience and classified them according to price, type, and region. Tourists in the northeast United States tend to gravitate toward what Groupon describes as “exploration and discovery” activities, like the Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia, Maine's Portland City and Lighthouse Tour, and the day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard.

Map of the Midwest region of the United States, listing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in those states
Groupon

The Midwest is by far the cheapest place to vacation, with the cost of attractions in the region averaging about $48. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and North Dakota are great states to visit if you’re looking for a top-ranked food tour, while South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois offer plenty of educational tours and experiences (including a movie site tour for Field of Dreams fans).

Map of the Southern region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist attractions in that area
Groupon

Experiences in the South are fairly varied. Visitors have plenty of options, whether they’re looking for a historic tour of Asheville, North Carolina's Biltmore Estate (the largest privately owned house in the United States) or a day of thrills at Virginia’s Busch Gardens amusement park. Tourists in the South do seem to prefer watery activities, though—the region is popular for dinner cruises and dolphin watching.

Map of the Western region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist destinations in the area
Groupon

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is easily the most expensive region for visitors, averaging about $176 per attraction. Tourists in this region tend to gravitate toward experiences like helicopter tours and hot air balloon rides, all of which push the region toward the pricey end of the scale. Still, if you’re looking for astounding natural beauty, there are few places with more variety than the American West.

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