It’s not easy for a new resort to truly stand out, especially in a destination teeming with some of the most attractive hotels in the world. But Joali managed to do it — indeed, it made a huge impression on us, earning a place among the very few resorts we would name as having the real wow factor.
The Maldives is one of our all-time favourite destinations and hearing of new luxury openings in the country always perks our interest. So was the case with Joali, and we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to visit this new property.
The essence of luxury
When designing a resort in the Maldives, its creators inevitably come across a problem: how to make it stand out from among other top hotels in the country? What to add to the blueprint that others have not thought of before?
So, could a new brand, such as Joali, propose anything different from all the other luxury resorts in the Maldives? Here is a refreshing thing: Joali didn’t actually try. Instead, they went for refined simplicity, placing its bet on getting “it” right.
Joali puts the emphasis on the essentials of luxury experience, on the solid craftsmanship and on the service honed to perfection. The resort is well built and beautifully designed, it serves wonderful food and is staffed with people who care about their work and the experience of their guests. And this, dare we say, is quite enough to create magic.
This magic revealed itself from the moment we stepped to the Joali airport lounge. Here we were treated with a warm welcome, glasses of prosciutto, plenty of snacks, and excellent coffee. And the ambience was just right.
But soon we were soaring above the intensely blue Indian Ocean on our way to the resort. The seaplane splashed down some distance from the island, docking to a floating platform, and we were then picked by a speedboat.
The arrival jetty was just minutes away. It is an extraordinary structure, more like contemporary sculpture than a building. Despite comparisons to a “manta ray” or “two fish kissing”, we were happy to think about it as abstract, simply a beautiful thing on its own. The welcome party received us there, and it included our butler, or, as Joali prefers to call them, our Jugadar.
If the arrival jetty made one strong impression, our villa made another. The sense of spaciousness, as we entered, was astonishing. It really is another level, and it got us thinking about how much the generosity of space matters. From the lounge area to the bedroom, and from the freestanding bathtub in the middle of the bathroom to the sundeck with the absolute beast of a swimming pool, we were simply awed.
The show-stopping villa architecture is well complemented by its interior design. The theme is neutral beige-to-brown, but we loved the small details and splashes of colour, from salmon pink fabrics and rose copper metal, to the emerald, bamboo-inspired tiles in the outdoor shower. It all creates a sense of timeless elegance.
The Joy of Living
The design of the resort in other parts of the island pulls on different strings of the overarching theme with an emphasis on playfulness in the commissioned art pieces and in the fun structures. Dinner in a house-sized manta ray, anyone? A photo-op in a bird’s head, weaved out of wicker? You’ve got it.
But this, in a way, is just a decoration. The core of the resort experience is reflected in the vision behind the brand, captured in the “Joy of Living” slogan. That joy for us came through the service, the atmosphere, and through the culinary offering. The other sides of the joie de vivre we found in the extensive water sport activities, and in the beautiful spa, which boasts an extensive menu of treatments and sessions.
As difficult it is to surprise and wow with something that has seemingly been offered before, Joali has pulled the trick. It was our sixth time in the Maldives, and we couldn’t have found a better cap to this latest trip than to end it at a high note, at Joali.