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 great impression on us, earning a place among the Top Resorts in the Maldives we named as having the real wow factor.
The Maldives is one of our all-time favorite destinations and hearing of new luxury hotel openings in the country always perks our interest. So was the case with Joali, and we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to visit it.
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The essence of luxury
When designing a resort in the Maldives, its creators inevitably come across a problem: how to make it stand out 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 much try. Instead, they went for refined simplicity, placing the bet on “getting it right.”
Joali emphasizes the essentials of luxury experience, solid craftsmanship, and service — all honed to perfection. The resort is well built and beautifully designed, it serves terrific 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.
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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 ambiance 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 a speedboat then took us to the arrival jetty, only minutes away.
The jetty ends in a mooring platform, placed at the lower end of an extraordinary arrival lounge, which looks more like a contemporary sculpture than a building. Despite comparisons to a “manta ray” or “two fish kissing,” we were happy to think about it as abstract, merely 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. 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 villa’s interior design well complements its show-stopping architecture. The theme is neutral beige-to-brown, but we loved the small details and splashes of color. Ther are salmon pink fabrics, rose copper bathroom fixtures, and 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 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. For us, this joy came through the service, the atmosphere, and 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 Maldives.