Take a Look Inside the First Immersive Wellness Retreat Island In the Maldives
As everyone collectively crawls out of their pandemic holes and returns to travel — or at least begin to think about it again — there's something everyone can all use a little of, and that's travel porn. Around the world, countries are starting to open up and travel is slowly becoming possible again, and that includes the return of wellness retreats.
If you're coming out of quarantine looking for a getaway where you can rest and relax seaside while channeling your inner zen, look no further than the world of JOALI BEING, a new nature wellbeing retreat on the island of Bodufushi in the Maldives that recently opened in November 2021.
This is not your typical wellness resort where you'll spend all your time doing downward dog on an oceanfront lawn then sip margaritas by the pool. It's so much deeper than that: It's the ultimate destination for diving deep into some serious self-care, becoming truly immersed in nature, and taking on some wellbeing work.
The Setting and Sustainability
Located in Raa Atoll in the Maldives, JOALI BEING (not to be confused with its sister property, JOALI Maldives resort, on the island of Muravandhoo) is secluded and breathtaking. There are three very chic ways to arrive: by a private or shared seaplane or a domestic flight and speedboat. If you choose the private charter or shared seaplane route, you're whisked from your commercial flight landing at the Velana International Airport (formerly known as Male) directly to a private airport lounge, where you wait to board a 40-minute hopper flight to the resort. Otherwise, a 35-minute domestic flight will take you from Velana to Ifuru Airport, where you'll climb aboard a 15-minute speedboat to get to the island. (To book, contact the reservations team at JOALI who can help coordinate any of the three transit options.)
JOALI BEING is nestled on an oasis of white sandy beaches, coconut palms, and turquoise lagoons. This island's natural beauty isn't taken for granted, though — the resort takes great pride in caring for the environment and is making great strides to mitigate waste. It has onsite composting and recycling, as well as its own biological wastewater treatment plant and desalinating water bottling plant (which removes salt as well as potentially-harmful metals, chemicals, and bacteria that might be in the H2O). The entire resort was created with the fragility of the Maldives ecosystem in mind. JOALI BEING hosts one of the Maldives' turtle conservation sanctuaries and also runs its own Reef Restoration Programme, growing coral in a nursery and then transplanting it back onto the reef. This is super important for rehabilitating the coral reefs in the Maldives after a major coral bleaching event in 2016 (caused by the abnormal weather patterns and ocean temperatures from that year's El Niño, according to the Marine Research Center) wiped out nearly 85 percent of the area's reefs.
The Wellness Experience
JOALI BEING goes above and beyond, delivering the best in spa treatments, body movement, and helping guests enter a world of inner peace. Equipped with 39 treatment rooms, the resort's so-called "transformational spaces" include a Hydrotherapy Hall, which has a Sensory Deprivation Room, a Russian Banya (essentially a steam room or steam bath with wooden benches), The Art of Synergy (where you can experience water therapies), a salt inhalation room (aka salt room therapy), and a hammam (a Middle Eastern variant of the steam bath). The resort also boasts a Sound Therapy Hall, which was created in collaboration with the retreat's sound-healing visionary and consultant Aurelio C. Hammer (aka Svaram), and Discovery Sound Path, a secluded trail that leads to an outdoor sound bathing space. (Related: This Sound Bath Meditation and Yoga Flow Will Ease All of Your Anxiety)
The spa offers a bespoke holistic experience featuring tailor-made treatments — from massages and facials to manicures and pedicures — with healing capabilities. Set amid the Healing Garden — which is where many of the spa's signature ingredients are grown — each session begins with a tropical-inspired beverage (e.g. coconut water infusion) and ends with a culinary creation designed to complement your recent treatment. Meanwhile, in the fitness center, you have the opportunity to work out either inside or outside and with a personal trainer in the expansive state-of-the-art gym, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The resort's exercise offerings also include a Pilates studio, antigravity yoga pavilion, and meditation deck.
The wellbeing journey is taken a step further with personalized wellness experiences. The relaxation room features lounge beds and views of the private beach where you can shut off and leave your worries behind alongside ocean views. To help you find "center" beyond the spa and relaxation room, venture out into the Healing Garden, where you can roam the tranquil grounds in an effort to get grounded. If you're not walking out of this sanctuary completely relaxed and recharged, then we got to talk because it's kind of the most amazing place ever. (Related: How to Tap Into Your 5 Senses to Find Peace and Be Present)
Ranging from five nights to three weeks, JOALI BEINGi's Immersion Programmes provide guests with the opportunity to take an even deeper dive into the four pillars of JOALI BEING: mind, skin, microbiome, and energy. You'll first undergo an Intelligent Movement Analysis and an Integrative Health Assessment — two resort-specific exams (meaning information as to what they involve exactly isn't readily available on the resort's website) — to ensure your experience is perfectly tailored to you as well as your wellness goals, whether they're focused on, say, restorative sleep or strength and vitality.
If you're itching for some action, the resort also offers water skiing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The Earth-to-Table Cuisine
Between all of the incredible activities and wellness offerings, JOALI BEING drives home one of its four pillars of wellbeing, the microbiome, with the intention of curating each menu with fresh and healthy foods. The cuisine is supported by locally-sourced produce that gives back to local farmers while keeping the Earth's integrity in mind. What's more, all food and drink options have been curated with the help of the resort's nutritionists, whom you can work with individually during your stay to develop a better understanding of the mind-gut connection and how it can impact your diet. The resort features an open-plan interactive dining space known as FLOW FLOW, which is home to three kitchens: Platae, which serves vegetarian and vegan cuisine, Su, which focuses on ocean-to-table pescatarian fare, and B'Well, which offers a selection of Earth-to-table meals. JOALI BEING also boasts a poolside lunch location and a tea lounge, where guests can explore a range of brews and join tea ceremonies and learning sessions hosted by the resort's tea sommelier. And, of course, the resort staff will bring the restaurant to you with a five-star in-room dining experience catering to your every need.
With 68 private beach and water villas, JOALI BEING puts just as much attention to detail into its accommodations as it does for everything else on its island-based resort. Whether you opt for a one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom residence, you — and your fellow guests, who have to be at least 14-years-old — will have your own pool and personal butler throughout your stay. But such luxury accommodations don't come without a price tag — and a hefty one at that. While costs vary depending on when you're visiting (e.g. weekdays will put you out slightly less than a weekend visit as will the summer months) and the number of guests, a night at JOALI BEING for one adult comes out to be $3,572 during the month of March 2022.
JOALI BEING is heaven on Earth. From activities to mindfulness, fresh food, facials, mediation, and beyond, it's the ultimate escape anyone and everyone could use after a very two-year battle with COVID. This isn't just for the wellness-seekers. JOALI BEING is a great destination for families, couples, individuals, and groups looking to vacation in a dreamy location by the sea. Ready to say "I Do?" Make this destination your place to elope or host an island wedding. So, pull out the tropical shirt and lather up the SPF, and get ready to step into the world of JOALI BEING. Tropical paradise awaits! (Up next: How to Get the Mental Health Benefits of Travel Without Going Anywhere)