Combining sustainable design, exquisite villas and a paradisiacal setting, the new Joali Being wellbeing retreat in the Maldives has just made its hotly awaited debut.
Set on the secluded island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll, a short seaplane journey away from Male International Airport, Joali Being is no ordinary wellbeing retreat. Nature is at the very core of this new offering, from its architecture and interiors, right down to its highly tailored treatments. So what can guests expect from the Maldives’ first “natural immersive wellbeing retreat”?
“Joali Being is a wellbeing retreat unlike any other in the world; it is a transformative destination aimed to inspire and ignite the very deepest of mindful connections to one’s self, one another, and one’s environment by enhancing our relationship with the surrounding natural world, our bodies and our minds,” says general manager Özgür Cengīz.
“Every element of this island works together to bring to life specialized spaces, opportunities, and unique moments that lend themselves to a vast array of possibilities,” he continues. “The magic of Joali Being is that no story is previously written and no itinerary previously set, rather, it is a place where all visitors are welcome, invited, and encouraged to pave the way for their own journey of self-discovery and renewal, enabling guests to return home feeling uplifted and inspired.”
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The new resort has been built from the ground up using biophilic design principles, a mode of architecture and design which integrates nature into a central part of the design (biophilia means love of nature), connecting building occupants more closely to the natural world.
This has left most of the island’s wild forest untouched, meaning a lush and verdant island landscape cocoons guests as soon as they arrive. The architectural concept on the island was guided by two Istanbul design studios: Autoban and Atolye4N, the team behind the award-winning Joali Muravandhoo island resort.
The accommodation comes in the form of 68 private beach and water villas, each with its own pool and a personal butler or jadugar, which translates into ‘skilled magician’ in Dhivehi. Ranging from one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom villas and residences, all come with a variety of offerings ranging from somewhat curious sounding meditative balancing musical instruments to more standard propositions such as customized mini-bars.
Interiors take inspiration from the natural surroundings as a way to enhance the wellbeing experiences at the retreat and feature relaxed, flowing lines that are meant to serve as an extension of the Indian Ocean. The most luxurious of all the accommodation is the incredible four-bedroom overwater villa providing endless ocean views, a wellbeing room and a movement room.
Of course, the main attraction at Joali Being is its wellbeing offerings which have been created with Oxford University professor Gerry Bodeker, who is a Harvard-trained expert on traditional and integrative medicine and wellness.
The retreat’s aim is for guests to return home feeling renewed, uplifted, inspired and most importantly, with a new sense of ‘weightlessness’. And there is a whole army of naturopaths, therapists, movement specialists and nutritionists on hand to ensure this happens.
A truly tailored immersive approach awaits each guest, each of whom will be greeted with an initial in-depth consultation on arrival. A bespoke program, ranging from five days to three weeks, will then be designed which blends both ancient and modern methods.
Offerings center around four pillars: mind, skin, microbiome and energy. Depending on the concern, programming can be tailored even further to focus on a whole array of areas such as strength and vitality, mental clarity and wellbeing, hormonal balance, women’s health, digestive and weight rebalance, and restorative sleep, as well as movement and alignment.
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Wellbeing activities take place in a host of breathtaking spaces spread across the island’s picture-perfect landscape. These include the Areka immersive wellbeing center, offering amongst other things, a plethora of scientific and alternative therapies as well as fitness facilities. Areka features 39 treatment rooms and transformational spaces including the Kaashi hydrotherapy hall, which has a rejuvenating sensory deprivation room, a Russian banya, water therapies, a salt inhalation room and a hammam. It also features a dreamy overwater meditation deck called Ocean Sala.
Guests can also sample natural remedies created by Joali Being’s resident herbalist in the Aktar herbology center. Prepared using herbs, spices and essential oils, a series of elixirs address concerns surrounding the four pillars (mind, skin, microbiome and energy). Guests can also join an interactive workshop to learn the benefits of herbal teas and learn to make natural body creams, face masks and massage oils.
Culinary offerings at Joali Being follow an earth-to-table principle, promising ingredient traceability and offering fresh, locally harvested foods that support small farmers. Each dining option has been expertly curated with the help of the retreat’s nutritionists, offering what are said to be “healthy yet indulgent” dishes.
The retreat’s main culinary hub is Flow: an open-plan interactive space with three signature kitchens providing a nourishing selection of dining options for guests. These include ‘Plantae’, offering vegan and vegetarian cuisine; ‘Su’, serving ocean-to-table fare; and ‘B’Well’, which serves the signature Joali Being menu.
Mojo is the island’s tropical beach hideaway, located on a triple-layered sundeck, serving as the perfect lunch and sundowner spot by the pool. It is also home to Sai, the retreat’s herbal tea lounge which hosts regular tea ceremonies and learning sessions led by the resident tea sommelier.
Nature isn’t only important in the kitchen, or through the catalog of therapies or lotions and potions on offer. Conservation is key here and Joali Being is home to a turtle conservation sanctuary, as well as a coral nursery and reef restoration project. The retreat is also collaborating with sustainable tourism advisory group EarthCheck, to introduce long-term sustainability initiatives to protect the surrounding ecosystem and beyond. These include desalinating water bottling plant, a rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling system, and a biological wastewater treatment plant.