The COMO experience starts long before you step foot into a property. So synonymous is the brand with its unique approach to wellness, that guests have come to expect a certain level of wellness from a COMO resort, through its activities, healthy cuisine and a team of skilled practitioners. With a place on Travel + Leisure’s IT List, the Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards stamp of approval and a Readers’ Choice Award from Conde Nast Traveler among its many accolades, COMO Maalifushi has clearly proven itself to be no exception, since opening its doors in 2014. We step inside COMO Maalifushi and explore the very best the ultimate escapist resort has to offer.
The feeling of exclusivity you experience at the resort is thanks, in part, to COMO Maalifushi’s location. As the only resort in the Thaa Atoll in the southern reaches of the Maldives, you would be forgiven for feeling a million miles away from it all, while, in reality, you’ve travelled only 60-minutes by sea plane from the Maldivian capital of Malé to reach the resort. For those less enthralled by the idea of a sea plane, the resort is also accessible by sea, with yachts and boats chartered to Dhonakulhi Island in the northern part of the archipelago.
COMO Maalifushi benefits from an abundance of coral surrounding the island, with the reefs boasting an impressive array of biodiverse marine life. While much of it continues to thrive, the resort’s on-site marine biologist and team of dedicated professionals have embarked on a coral propagation scheme to combat the effects of the El Nino climate cycle and give back to the seas. The atoll is also home to well-known dive sites and snorkelling opportunities, while whale shark and manta ray sightings are not uncommon occurrences.
The property is comprised of 33 over water and 32 on land villas (better suited to travelling families), rooms and residences. Filled with light limewood furniture and boasting sunken, marble tiles, locally sourced materials have been used to construct this elegantly furnished, understated resort. Overwater villas come complete with private infinity pools overlooking the crystal clear, azure waters and floor to ceiling windows from which to look out from your four-poster bed.
Villa 313 boasts incredible views of the sunset and is the perfect room for those looking to experience the setting sun from the privacy of their own quarters. One-bedroom beach villas boast their own private pools, with classic French doors opening onto private access to the nearby beach.
The crown jewel of the resort is the Maalifushi Beach Villa. At over 3,000 square foot, this two-bedroom villa benefits from unbeatable sunrise and views of the Indian Ocean, has its own private garden, swimming pool, and comes with 24-hour butler service.
On-site, the alfresco restaurant Madi hosts a daily buffet breakfast, filled with fresh fruit, remedial juices, and a range of Asian and western breakfast dishes – some of which are available a la carte. Owing to its location, the resort places a focus on local seafood, with overwater Japanese restaurant Tai – Japanese for snapper – offering an array of fresh, sustainably caught seafood.
With a belief that wellness starts from within, COMO has created a carefully constructed menu of healthy cuisine for its guests. Available at all COMO properties, COMO Shambhala cuisine features a mixture of raw and cooked vegetables and proteins. The food here isn’t merely fuel, but a lifeline—each ingredient is carefully selected to promote the body’s natural cleansing capabilities, balance blood sugar levels, boost concentration and foster a general sense of wellbeing.
So popular has COMO Shambhala cuisine become, that the group has released a cookbook, to help former guests and likeminded individuals recreate the healthy, healing cuisine at home. The Pleasures of Eating Well: Nourishing Favourites from the COMO Shambhala Kitchen features 147 Asian-inspired recipes filled with fresh, imaginative tastes that reflect both the culture and the flavours of its destination resorts.
Its signature big raw salad is a staple for many a retreat-goer, as is its famed warming and healing ginger tea. Each ingredient is chosen for its nutritional properties and is served alongside nutritionally complementary components. A plate of sustainably sourced, freshly prepared seared tuna steak with peppercorns is exemplary of this.
Much like its overall wellness philosophy, COMO Shambhala cuisine can be easily adapted to suit the needs of the individual. Naturally low in sugar and salt, intolerances and allergies can also be easily catered to.
The COMO Shambhala wellness philosophy is the backbone that runs through all COMO properties. With holistic wellness at its very core, COMO Maalifushi is no exception – the retreat is at the heart of the property.
Customisable to suit individual preferences, each guest can engage in two complimentary daily wellness activities, while yoga is offered at the resort’s outdoor pavilion twice daily, six days a week. While today much of the Maldives comprises luxury resorts with ostentatious décor and opulent interiors, it is COMO Maalifushi’s unique blend of rustic charm and barefoot luxe that set it apart. Yoga rooms and treatment pavilions are calming and zen, with their minimalist interiors affecting a tranquil experience.
At an additional cost, guests can engage in one of the daily events – ranging from culinary events to wellness specials and off-site excursions. From sailing on a traditional dhoni (Maldivian sailboat) to turtle expedition snorkelling to diving, the options are seemingly endless.
When it comes to truly effective retreats, rest and relaxation are uncompromisable components. With the limitless ocean on the horizon, it’s hard not to feel a wave of calm wash over you and the overwater treatment rooms made my spa treatments very zen. With Spa Director Gusti Ayu Nilawati at the helm, the resort boasts eight private treatment pavilions, an open-air yoga pavilion, and an extensive COMO Shambhala treatment menu. The signature COMO Shambhala massage and Indian head massage are popular choices among many a retreat-goer. I began my three-day retreat with a dry Thai massage on the first day followed by the COMO Shambhala signature massage on the second day, and the Indian head massage facing over the Indian Ocean on the last.
At COMO Maalifushi, it is easy to live well, without feeling restricted or confined. I lost a few kilos during my trip just by sticking to the COMO Shambhala cuisine and doing gentle yoga and exercises like swimming and snorkelling. With its meticulously curated cuisine, wellness and spa experiences, healthy choices are made naturally and become easy to implement at home. The resort places a big emphasis on the natural, and this comes through in everything from its approach to clean cuisine to its signature treatments and outdoor activities. Even the design and décor featured within the property—every element has been created with wellness in mind.
Whether you’re travelling solo, with a loved one or as a family (which the resort caters to in no small measure), you never feel alone. General Manager Pietro Addis and his team are warm, welcoming and approachable, and make the resort’s public spaces feel like a natural extension of your personal sanctuary.
For the ultimate in luxury island experiences, the resort’s private 68-foot yacht, Cameron, is available for charter, bringing the nearby islands and the treasures they hold that much closer to home. Diving is best at the house reef, with its crystal-clear waters, while a private island picnic can—and should—be arranged during your stay.
The resort can recommend specific rooms based on guests’ preferences, with 313 proving the ideal accommodation for those inclined to take in a sunset or two.