Luxury hotels in the Maldives have come to be a dime a dozen. With boutique properties opening their doors in seemingly every corner of the once-isolated atoll, making your mark as a boutique, luxury hotel is no mean feat—yet it is one that Joali have achieved in no small measure with their attentive wellness activities and healthy programming. Opened in October last year by Turkish entrepreneur Esin Güral Argat, the resort relies little on gimmicks or showmanship and doesn’t play into the traditional wellness resort mould. Instead, Joali places emphasis on timeless elegance, show-stopping architectural design and a variety of wellness-infused programmes. Compare Retreats Founder Dervla Louli Musgrave checks into the luxe Maldives resort to experience it for herself.
Located on Muravandhoo island in the northern Maldives, Joali lies along one of the region’s and the world’s largest atoll. The property is surrounded by endless quantities of crystal clear seas, the perfect place for open water swims, with waters so brilliantly blue, they appear almost dyed. Surrounding waters are home to reef sharks, guitar sharks, and all manner of marine life, with the resort making every effort to protect the fragile ecosystem. Over 1,000 trees were saved during the construction process, and the resort has appointed Samantha Reynolds as its on-site marine biologist.
The resort is accessible by private charter or shared seaplane, which reaches Muravandhoo from Malé airport in just 40 minutes. The guest experience begins at the airport lounge, before boarding your seaplane, with a spa menu at your disposal to help you narrow down the seemingly endless options of how to while away your time. There is also the option to fly to nearby Ifuru airport. From here, Muravandhoo is accessible with a 15-minute speedboat journey. On arrival at the jetty, guests are greeted by a personal butler.
Joali comprises 73 private beach and water one, two, three and four-bedroom villas and residences lie across the 24-acre resort. Each water villa has its own private infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. Guest rooms boast a curated library and come equipped with bicycles, for use across the resort.
Green marble features in the shower and bathroom, while rose gold accents are found across the room – even detailing the plugholes, adorning reusable water bottles and golden pineapple cocktail sticks. The naturally calming palate is reflected in the shade of the yoga mat, emulating the colours of the Indian Ocean.
The resort’s piece de resistance – the three-bedroom Ocean Residence at the end of the promenade – boasts three beds, dressing rooms, an infinity pool, walk-in closets, a spa and sauna, and spans across more than 4,000 square foot. It even has its own private dhoni (Maldivian sailboat) at its disposal.
Odd numbered rooms prove the perfect place to watch the sunrise from, while even numbered rooms are said to play host to the best views for sunset. Everything in guest rooms is controlled by iPad, with the alarm clock syncing to open your curtains to the endless ocean ahead. People travelling with families and young children will find the beach residences more amenable, and a safer option for young children.
For enquiries, contact our travel concierge team at [email protected]
With four dining venues as well as an extensive, healthy in-room dining selection, Joali caters to every palate. At Joali, personalisation is key. Guests with dietary requirements can notify the resort beforehand, and they will find their needs met on arrival, ensuring the removal sweets and fruit from the rooms of the sugar-free before their arrival, among other adjustments.
The Mura Bar offers an array of cocktails, mocktails and healthy snacks, while Vandhoo restaurant—located behind the pool—serves both breakfast and dinner. Italian restaurant Bellinis offers a mixture of health-conscious and classic cuisine.
Very rarely does a resort in the Maldives come alive at night, but at Japanese restaurant Saoke, the lighting adds an entirely new dimension to your experience. Designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu (famed for his design efforts on Zuma), the dining venue comes alive at dusk.
In a unique spin on farm-to-table dining, at the chef’s garden, the culinary team source and grow their own vegetables. Guests can visit the garden with a resident chef and pick their own vegetables and salad leaves to be assembled and prepared for their next meal.
Joali offers guests customised wellness experiences, with a focus on relaxing and rejuvenating treatments and wellness programmes.
Every stay here is inclusive of a morning and afternoon fitness session each day, while the resort boasts an extensive activities schedule. Activities including parasailing, night snorkelling and dolphin quests can be arranged at an additional fee. With a quiet corner of the Indian Ocean as a virtually-private outdoor playground, it’s hard not to be active. The El Nino phenomenon and a surge of warmer waters in recent years have led to the bleaching of several coral reefs, but the surrounding seas still make for a good place for first-time divers to obtain their PADI qualifications through the resort.
The jewel in Joali’s crown is the resort’s dedicated wellness property. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the custom-built, sustainable private island wellness sanctuary lies 20 minutes from the resort.
The Joali Spa by Espa features a unique marble hammam. Signature, exclusive Espa signature therapies can be recommended by your therapist based on your wellness needs and preferences. Bespoke, tailored experiences can include sound healing, chakra work and the use of healing crystals, while the ambience and design of the overwater rooms and yoga pavilion only serve to add to the experience.
With Herchell Cabrera heading up the Spa and Fitness department and General Manager Steven Phillips overseeing the resort, what makes wellness experiences so memorable here is the team of dedicated professionals.
Wellness has never looked so chic. Even the most finicky of travellers will find themselves lost for words here—every whim and preference is taken care of, leaving you feeling nothing if not content. But despite its elegance and luxury, the resort has retained an inherent comfort: barefoot luxe, elevated.
With its kid’s club and children’s spa offerings, this makes for an ideal family-friendly retreat destination, though whether you’re travelling on your own, with a loved one or with your family, the emphasis on personalisation will leave you feeling like you’re in safe hands throughout your stay.
What truly sets Joali apart is its team: conscientious, personable individuals like Ismail Nasheed, the Room Divisions Manager, whose welcoming presence is appreciated by guests. Nasheed is himself a seasoned freediver and drone enthusiast and has a penchant for sharing his passions.
Early birds will rejoice, waking to sunrise in one of the odd-numbered overwater villas – room 47 is a particular favourite. While the architecture is in and of itself a work of art, the resort houses several pieces of artwork. An art map can be obtained from hotel staff, to aid your exploration of Joali’s many hidden treasures.
The chef’s garden experience offers a unique opportunity to truly customise your dining experience and to learn about the culinary creations behind your next meal. Request wellness therapist Mamma at Joali Spa by Espa, for a relaxing and restorative experience. And finally, hard though it may be to tear yourself away from your surroundings, a stay here isn’t complete without delving into the complimentary activities and excursions both on and off the island.
JOALI Maldives, Muravandhoo Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives | joali.com
For enquiries, contact our travel concierge team at [email protected]