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The eagerly anticipated island retreat is set to combine boundless luxury with a dedicatedly natural approach.
By Emma Al-Mousawi | May 25 2021
Combining sustainable design, exquisite villas and a paradisiacal setting, the new Joali Being wellbeing retreat in the Maldives is set to make its hotly awaited debut at the end of the year.
Set on the secluded island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll, a short seaplane journey away from Male International Airport, Joali Being is anticipated to be 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. With this in mind, Elite Traveler set out to discover what’s in store at what is set to be the Maldives’ “first natural immersive wellbeing retreat”.
Joali Being has been built from the ground up using biophilic design principles (biophilia means love of nature), a mode of architecture and design which integrates nature into a central part of the design, connecting building occupants more closely to the natural world and achieving harmony. This has left most of the island’s wild forest untouched, making for a lush a verdant island landscape; one that will leave guests feeling cocooned in nature. The architectural concept on the island was guided by the team behind the award-winning Joali Muravandhoo island resort and is set to have just as much style if the renderings are anything to go by.
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. The most luxurious of all is set to be the incredible four-bedroom overwater villa providing endless ocean views, a wellbeing room and a movement room.
But of course, the main attraction at Joali Being is its wellbeing offerings which have been created with Oxford University professor Gerry Bodeker, 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 approach awaits each guest, each of whom will be greeted with an initial in-depth consultation on arrival. A bespoke program will then be designed which blends traditional and modern methods. Offerings center around four pillars: mind, skin, microbiome and energy. Depending on the concern, programming can be tailored even more 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, restorative sleep, as well as movement and alignment.
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 a 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 as they join the resident herbalist in the retreat’s Herbology Centre.
Culinary offerings at Joali Being follow an Earth-to-Table principle, promising ingredient traceability and offering fresh, locally harvested foods that support small farmers and are sustainably sourced. 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 signature kitchens providing a nourishing selection of dining options for guests. These include ‘Plantae’, offering vegetarian cuisine and ‘Su’, serving ocean-to-table fare.
‘Mojo’ is the island’s tropical beach hideaway, located on a three-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.
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.