Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, The Maldives has remained a preferred destination for travel thanks to its pristine waters, secluded appeal and, in some cases, mask-free stays. Wellness travellers flock in from near and far to reside at some of the world’s most beautiful retreats within the small archipelagic state. A pioneer in wellness, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas houses several outposts in the region—including Anantara Veli Maldives Resort and Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort. We speak to the Director Of Spa at Anantara’s Maldives properties and Naladhu Private Island, Bodina Qureshi, on healthy holidays, powerful transformations and the best things to do at Anantara Veli.
What was your first healthy holiday experience?Healthy and holiday haven’t always featured in the same sentence for me but about 11 years ago I visited Body Holiday in Saint Lucia and this ignited my personal wellness journey. They designed a ‘healthy holiday’ concept long before the wellness ‘boom’, at a time when the idea of travelling with a focus on wellbeing was rare and somewhat inaccessible. Every day, the food and activities were designed around the pillars of wellness and personalised towards my goals. I spent a week in Ibiza and I don’t regret it one bit.
How do you reboot after a hectic week? To reboot, I disconnect for a few hours from all my devices and retreat to a good book—this week it’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.
How have you taken a weakness and turned it into a strength? I grew up swimming competitively from a young age and the pressure around that was not always easy. I stopped swimming but the competitive spirit never left me. I find that I am extremely competitive with most things that I take on and so I am learning that not everything is a competition (and there is growth in that) and the zeal I have to push forward will also have its rewards.
When you feel unfocused or overwhelmed what do you do? When I feel unfocused, I separate myself from what I am doing. I take a few minutes and a few deep breaths (maybe a cup of coffee) and try to realign my thoughts. Feeling overwhelmed is a natural emotion. I try to remind myself that it is a breakdown of my thoughts and not my life.
What is an interesting routine that you do daily that sets you up for success? Being a creature of habit, my days are very structured. Although the nature of our work is quite dynamic, my days will maintain a certain consistency. I take one hour in the morning that is just for me and my personal wellbeing—this would ordinarily be spent at the gym. I start my day with my first cup of coffee, then I prioritise all the tasks of the day. When I drink my last cup of coffee of the day, I check my diary to ensure I achieved what I set out to do.
The most powerful transformations can come through difficult times or a crisis because people are forced to have a breakthrough. How have you changed a crisis into an opportunity? I think most people will agree that through any crisis we understand that time is not guaranteed. I have learned to make more time for the people I care about and make more time for myself and my personal wellbeing. It is a definite win!
What are your recommended activities to do at Anantara Veli? Anantara Veli has such a distinct charm and warmth. I highly recommend waking up for morning yoga. It’s a beautiful morning ritual that will leave you feeling calm and collected in the mind and body. There is something for everyone at the resort. Water lovers can snorkel with dolphins (how amazing is that), spa lovers can enjoy a variety of pampering treatments at Anantara Spa and guests who are interested in making a few lifestyle changes to feel better can visit our nutritionist and wellness consultant at Balance Wellness Spa, where wellness offerings include in-house consultations to help achieve personal wellness goals.