I recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in the Maldives. During my trip, I did not stay at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani – my favorite resorts in the Maldives (I am going back though in 2024) – but I tried out some new, ultra-luxurious and fabulous resorts. Read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Brussels to Doha
- Review: Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Business Class from Doha to the Maldives
- Review: British Airways Boeing 777 Business Class (new suite) from London to Male
- Review: JOALI BEING (today)
- Review: InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
- Review: Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island
- Review: Alila Kothaifaru Maldives
- Review: Edelweiss Air Airbus A340 Business Class from Male to Zurich
Today: Review of JOALI BEING, Maldives
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: JOALI BEING
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
The first wellbeing island retreat of its kind in the Maldives, ultra-luxe JOALI BEING offers fully personalised and results-driven transformative programs, with the goal of guests returning home feeling refreshed, enlivened, and inspired, with a new sense of ‘weightlessness’. The nature-immersive wellness retreat on the tropical island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll features 68 private villas, each with their own pool and jadugar (butler), a curated selection of healthy-yet-indulgent sustainably sourced cuisine, and an entire team of naturopaths, nutritionists, therapists, and movement specialists ready to help you return home feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and with a renewed sense of peace. The retreat offers some of the world’s finest wellness facilities and unique transformational spaces, with hydrotherapy, movement, and sound healing experiences.
JOALI BEING features in my top 10 list of the best luxury resorts & hotels in the Maldives.
Have you ever stayed at JOALI BEING? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- JOALI BEING is located on the secluded island of Bodufushi in the Raa Atoll. Surrounded by crystalline lagoons, pristine beaches, strikingly blue waters, and a lush landscape, Bodufushi is an idyllic, picture perfect and natural tropical island (as opposed to the many artificial islands that are being built in the Maldives these days). Reached via a 45-minute seaplane flight from Malé International Airport, the destination transports visitors into a world of luxury, serenity, and wellness. While waiting for their seaplane transfer, guests have access to Joali’s elegant airport lounge, which is located within the seaplane terminal. The lounge features excellent facilities, including showers, an outdoor terrace and a kids room. Guests also have the chance to opt for a private transfer onboard Joali’s private seaplane, which is fitted with luxurious interiors. JOALI BEING is located 20 minutes by boat from its sister resort JOALI Maldives, so it’s pretty easy to combine both properties within the same itinerary.
- The architectural concept of JOALI BEING was guided and executed by the renowned multidisciplinary design studio, Autoban, along with Atolye4N, both of which also contributed to the design concept of sister destination, JOALI Maldives. To align with JOALI BEING’s commitment to preserving, respecting, and connecting with the local landscape, the retreat was built using biophilic design principles, which is a scientific system of integrating architecture and design with nature, with the goal to achieve harmony by eliminating negative vibrations and enhancing the energy flow of the island. In doing so, the island’s wild forest also remains untouched. One of the resort’s many architectural highlights is the soaring and resplendent white welcome pavilion on the arrival jetty. Known as ‘The Gate of Zero’, the structure is shaped like the flowing skirt of a whirling dervish and mimics the waves of the glittering Indian ocean. Here, the resort staff welcomes guests upon their arrival from Male Airport, introducing them to their transformative journey of “being” to “become”.
- Home to 33 beach villas and 35 overwater villas, JOALI BEING boasts a total of 68 elegantly appointed and expansive guest accommodations. Offering 13 different villa categories, guests may choose from one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom options, all of which come complete with a personal jadugar, meaning “skilled magician” in Dhivehi (butler). During my holiday, I stayed in a beautiful Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, which featured a spacious bedroom with kingsize bed and a sitting area. An open plan bathroom was equipped with indoor & outdoor showers, a standalone bathtub and his & her vanity. Floor-to-ceiling windows opened to an expansive outdoor deck with lounge areas and a private pool, offering sweeping sunset vistas across the Indian Ocean. Pulling inspiration from the Maldives’ dreamy shorelines, the villa’s interior featured relaxed, flowing lines that served as an extension of the Indian Ocean. Textured ceilings, a soothing color palette, minimalist aesthetics and special inclusions like meditative musical instruments & wellbeing games made for a realm of blissful happiness.
- As a dedicated, immersive, and interactive wellbeing retreat, JOALI BEING aims to serve as the beginning of a transformative journey, on which guests are invited to reunite with themselves and celebrate the wisdom of nature. The retreat’s unique wellness concept draw on both modern science and long-honored traditions that enable guests to be met where they are and further guided on a journey of self-discovery and renewal, all while savoring the joy of the here and now. A dedicated expert team of naturopaths, therapists and movement experts works with guests every step of the way to help set intentions, nurture with empathy, and co-create moments of wonder and transcendence. At the center of the retreat’s transformative experiences lie the Four Pillars, which were created in conjunction with a professor at Oxford:
- Mind: Cultivate contentment and peace of mind through sound therapy and mind and body practices
- Microbiome: Form a deeper understanding of the connection between body, mind, and nutrition while building eating habits around the body’s circadian rhythm
- Skin: Illuminate the skin with rejuvenating therapies that draw equally from timeless rituals and the world’s most advanced research
- Energy: Rebalance the nervous system and optimize energy flow through intelligent movement practices and restorative therapies.
- JOALI BEING is a collection of transformational wellness spaces spread across the island. These cleverly designed spaces welcome positivity and harmony, whether surrounded by the treetops or built over the lagoon:
- The entrance to the retreat’s transformational spaces is called Areka. The pavilion acts as a consultation and reception area to the treatment rooms, diagnostic services and learning programs.
- The spa features 39 treatment rooms, each equipped with a signature sound that is aligned with planetary frequencies and in synergy with the room’s location on the island. Treatments aim healing with quartz crystals or rebalancing with ancient oriental massage techniques.
- Aktar is a herbology center in partnership with Herba Farm and inspired by a spice market. Guests can address any mind, microbiome, skin, and energy concerns with the resident herbologist who can prepare herbal teas for any type of physical or mental ailment, create natural cosmetics and massage oils. Workshops are also on offer to learn about the science behind the health benefits of herbs and oils.
- Silk is a sound therapy room for restoring inner balance, created in collaboration with sound healing visionaries.
- The Sound Discovery Path is a secluded palm fringed sound therapy oasis with nine unique instruments that resonate with the natural rhythms of the island.
- Core is the retreat’s impressive movement center and gymnasium, home to resident movement trainers.
- Kaashi is a hydrotherapy room, home to a Banya inspired by a Russian Banya, an Aufguss sauna, a salt inhalation room and a watsu oval room, with a twinkling ceiling and temperature-controlled pool designed to evoke a womb-like experience.
- The Ocean Sala is an overwater mind and body area, which includes an anti-gravity yoga pavilion and meditation platform.
- The Learning Center is home to culinary, herbal and wellness educational workshops.
- The culinary arts at JOALI BEING follow an earth-to-table principle, promising ingredient traceability and offering fresh, locally harvested foods that support small farmers. All culinary offerings are expertly curated alongside the retreat’s nutrition experts, providing a vibrant assortment of flavors and cuisines with both healthy and indulgent options. The resort offers several dining options:
- Flow is the retreat’s main restaurant, an open-plan dining space with three separate kitchens under one roof. These include ‘Plantae’, offering vegan and vegetarian cuisine; ‘Su’, serving ocean-to-table fare; and ‘B’Well’, which serves the signature JOALI BEING menu.
- Ocean Sala is an overwater dining venue set on the island’s eastern side. The restaurant, open on selected nights, serves perfectly grilled premium cuts of meat and seafood, including specialties like Wagyu beef, Japanese scallops, and lobster and tuna.
- Located on a three-layered sundeck, Mojo offers an ideal spot for lunch and sundowners by the pool. Next to Mojo, which is also open for dinner on selected nights, is Sai, the retreat’s herbal tea lounge which hosts regular tea ceremonies and learning sessions led by the resident tea sommelier.
- Set on the beach in front of Flow is a private teppanyaki venue, serving delicious Japanese cuisine while offering astonishing views of the Indian Ocean and the Gate of Zero.
- Bespoke dining arrangements can also be enjoyed wherever guests desire; whether on a private sandbank, in nature-immersive jungle spaces, or in an inviting Turtle Treehouse. Guests also have the option of personalized nutrition sessions and interactive nutritional cooking classes at the Culinary Learning Center.
- While JOALI BEING is primarily a wellness retreat – and the first of its kind in the Maldives – the property also offers the typical elements and world-class facilities that you find at other private island resorts in the Maldives, including idyllic beaches and a stunning pool. All villas come with their own decently sized infinity pool, but in case you are in need of some serious swimming or just want to be closer the resort’s collections of bars, there’s also a fabulous three-level pool with sunken dining area at the heart of the resort. Overlooking the crystal clear lagoon, the pool’s sundeck – which is an extension of Mojo Restaurant and Sai, the tea lounge – features plenty of sun loungers, a few cabanas and some intimate and shaded relaxation areas hidden in the lush vegetation. The pool terrace cascades down towards the sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise lagoon, which encircle the entire island and which create the perfect soothing backdrop for the transformative wellness journey that JOALI BEING aims to achieve.
- With sustainability and conservation in its DNA, JOALI BEING has enacted several initiatives and partnerships to maintain the preservation of nature and the surrounding landscape. The retreat is home to one of the three turtle conservation sanctuaries in the Maldives, as well as a Reef Restoration Project and coral nursery. The Joali brand is also collaborating with EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for travel and tourism, on impactful long-term sustainability initiatives. The sustainability infrastructure of the island includes a desalinating water-bottling plant, a rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling system, a glass crusher and recycler, a 1750 food waste composter, a plant-waste shredder for fertilizing, and a biological wastewater treatment plant for safe discharge.
- Opened in November 2022, JOALI BEING is the sister resort of JOALI Maldives. Debuted in 2018, JOALI Maldives focusses on art, from the manta-ray-shaped treehouse to the sculptural chairs dotted throughout the grounds to the artist-in-residence who teaches classes like pottery and painting. The 73-villa property offers innovative dining concepts (including Japanese restaurant Saoke, authentic Asian Vandhoo and Levant restaurant Tuh’u, and Tuscan-inspired Bellinis) and a Spa by ESPA. Both JOALI Maldives and JOALI BEING are the brainchild of Turkish entrepreneur Esin Güral Argat. Güral Argat is the Vice President of the Gürok Group, a family-owned Turkish company founded in 1948, which has investments and operations in glassware, tourism, mining, roof tiles and construction. With over 7,200 employees, this high-growth organisation reaches over 140 countries with its exports. With the JOALI brand, the Gürok Group extends its hospitality and tourism investments into the Maldives with the intention of creating a global luxury brand of exceptional standards.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- JOALI BEING is set on a stunningly beautiful natural island with lush tropical vegetation and white, sandy beaches all around the island. If I would have to mention one negative thing about the island’s spellbinding beauty, it would be the presence of several breakwavers on the beaches (which were put there to keep the beach in place). These breakwavers might slightly spoil the idyllic view in certain parts of the island but the problem of beach erosion is common everywhere in the Maldives (and many resorts have breakwavers these days, either located directly on the beach or in the lagoon surrounding the islands).
- I absolutely loved my villa, but unfortunately, the villas which were located in my section of the overwater jetty had a privacy issue: each villa had a large window in the bedroom which looked out directly on the terrace and pool of the neighbouring villa. IMHO, it felt a little like these windows were a design fault – not sure what the architects were thinking here – and they could create very akward moments (since privacy is what most guests are looking for when holidaying in the Maldives, especially at a resort with this price tag). Fortunately, it is a problem that the resort could easily solve by using frosted glass for these windows to guarantee 100% privacy.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 10/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at JOALI BEING when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $150 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like JOALI BEING (and/or receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (with low availability and very expensive room rates). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to JOALI BEING requires a 45-minute seaplane transfer from Male International Airport (MLE). Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer flights to Male International Airport.
Here’s a selection of my photos of JOALI BEING Maldives. To view more hotel photos (including breakfast, luch and dinner), click here.