Every serious traveler knows the Maldives is spoken of as the ultimate remote island getaway. As someone who specializes in Sustainable Adventure and Wellness Travel, I knew this destination had to be explored. I was always curious how to travel to this remote part of the world where over 1000 islands make up the 26 atolls that stretch across the equator. After the recent opening of JOALI BEING, I was given the opportunity to spend three nights at the resort. JOALI BEING opened in November of 2021 and has already received massive recognition including a recent entry into Forbes Five Stars Verified Luxury Hotels.
JOALI BEING is nestled on the secluded island of Bodufushi on the picture-perfect island of Muravandhoo in Raa Atoll. From the Male Airport, guests can take a 50-minute domestic flight (with stops) which JOALI arranges for you, or the more stylish option, a 40-minute ride on the beautifully branded private seaplane straight to the resort. On arrival, you can’t help noticing the architecturally striking structure that greets you. We learned that the welcome building is shaped as a “whirling dervish” skirt, worn in Sufi ceremonies in which the aim is to abandon your ego and reach the source of all perfection, or dharma; at JOALI BEING you get pretty close to that. The founder of JOALI Maldives is Turkish entrepreneur, Esin Güral Argat, who wanted to create a nature-immersive and well-being-centered retreat that is more than an expression, but a way of life. At JOALI BEING, time truly seems to cease, and you experience a sense of “weightlessness” that can only be felt firsthand. This is truly transformative travel.
JOALI puts wellness as its focal point, and you can’t miss it. After being greeted with fresh fruit juice, you are met with a doctor who is ready to tailor an immersion program around your individual goals and lifestyle centered around one of JOALI BEING’s Four Pillars of Wellbeing: Mind, Skin, Microbiome, and Energy. This is done through an optional Intelligent Movement Analysis and Integrative Health Assessment. Everything you do at JOALI BEING serves to guide you towards your chosen goal in a thoughtful and understated way. The food serves a purpose; earth-to-table is the initiative. Breakfast features gut-healthy fermented foods, a large table of gluten free bread and detox juices that are equally healthy and delicious. The days start with early morning yoga in the pavilion overlooking the crystal-clear water, with the best yoga guru ever, followed by amazing breakfast both a la carte and buffet. The day is filled with time in the various wellbeing programs featuring activities such as massages, watsu (shiatsu massage in water), hammam, salt baths, sound healing and much more. They have the best wellness practices from all around the world in one place, including visits by world renowned practitioners of wellness.
I stayed in a Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, a very well-appointed overwater bungalow with steps that led straight into the water where millions of fished danced and played throughout our stay. There are 68 well living spaces on the property each with private pools, special inclusions (like gifts from your amazing butler), and meditative musical instruments and games. A big factor that sets JOALI BEING apart is that the coral reefs around the hotel are teeming with fish thanks to a growing eco systems around the entire resort underneath the bungalows in their Reef Restoration Project and coral nursery. You can experience amazing snorkeling in the warm waters right outside your villa without having to get on a boat unlike other properties in the Maldives – a true luxury.
While JOALI BEING is great for couples, as is the Maldives as a whole, I also would promote this region as an ultimate “girl’s trip” (sisters, mom and daughter, friends etc), where wellness is a top priority for all. The founder has said her goal when creating the brand was female empowerment and it is felt throughout. JOALI BEING employs almost double the national average of women (including my extraordinary female butler Safa).
They are also trying to do their part in sustainable travel with three turtle conservation sanctuaries in the Maldives which is developed by cooperating with Olive Ridley Project, as well as a Reef Restoration Project and a coral nursery. They are collaborating with EarthCheck on several long-term sustainability initiatives, including a desalination water-bottling plant, a rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling system, a glass crusher and recycler, and a plant waste shredder for fertilising. It was joyous not to encounter one single use plastic item during my stay.