Best New Spa Getaway: JOALI, MALDIVES
The journey to Joali, one of the newest luxury resorts on Muravandhoo Island, is certainly for the curious and valiant. Two transcontinental flights and one seaplane ride later, I find myself at this destination resort, fringed by pristine white sand, blistering blue waters, and a manta ray-shaped jetty. The philosophy of Joali is apparent from the moment I arrive: castaway location, dramatic tropical architecture by design studios Autoban, Atolye4n, and Studio Glitt, and fabulous in-room elements imbued with the perennial joyful spirit of living. The smallest touches in my 240-square-metre water villa make the most meaningful impressions—welcome Ruinart champagne and chocolate coconut treats, objets d’art in the form of brass pineapples and cocktail shakers adorn the living room, while a state-of-the-art lighting and mood control system, controlled from an iPad, sits by the bedside table.
Then, there is the sumptuous bathroom, which sets the bar so high that normal life seems invariably dull—luxurious Verde Lapponia marble against rose-gold taps, with artisanal amenities such as a Marvis Amarelli Licorice Toothpaste. My first morning, I ride over to the Vandhoo Restaurant, where my carb-free resolve is instantly weakened after a bite of the most delicious pain au chocolat. Lunch is spent lazing at one of the poolside cabanas at Mura Bar, with watermelon juice and lobster rolls. As an opening special, I have the honour of sitting in the woods with Turkish artist-musician Görkem Şen, who plays his proud invention, a purely acoustic stringed instrument called Yaybahar that sends vibrations through the body, putting me in the right mood for my continued exploration of the island.
The Joali Spa by Espa is an indulgent retreat on its own. Serious spa enthusiasts will delight in the 28-page menu, with treatments designed especially for Joali. Placed in the trusted hands of my Bhutanese therapist for a Mindful Massage, with a promise of a renewed sense of positivity, I begin with mindful breathing, before infused oils are massaged into metamorphic zones on the feet and body. Then, warm rose quartz crystals are used to sculpt and tone the facial contours, while an intensive hair-and-scalp pink mud works its wonders on my tresses. The after-spa relaxation takes place in a curated library filled with transformative wellness books from yoga bibles to clean-eating guides. So emotionally stimulating is my time here that I feel compelled to add more wellness goals to my list of resolutions for the new year.
Muravandhoo Island Raa Atoll, Maldives. Tel: +960 658 4400. www.joali.com