The Maldives certainly doesn’t have a shortage of exquisite accommodations. As a premier honeymoon destination that provides hoteliers plenty of opportunities to build private island resorts, you’ll find everything from independent brands to familiar luxury names represented in the nation. And while there have been several recent additions to the area, there’s one newcomer that has shot to the top of the list. Open this past October, Joali Maldives in the Raa Atoll is a 73-villa property that has been built with design top of mind, offering a visual experience that’s unparalleled in the country.
It all starts with the arrival jetty, which has an undulating thatched roof that immediately lets guests know that aesthetics are something that matter at Joali. You’re then shuttled off to your villa of choice—either set on the pristine white sand or stilted above the crystalline waters—which are incredibly large, each spanning over 1,000 square feet before you even consider the expansive outdoor spaces. Every accommodation also comes with a standalone bathtub, outdoor shower, and private pool (and unlike those offered at most other resorts the ones here go beyond a plunge basin).
Inside you’ll find elegant interiors, where fans resembling a frangipani flower hang from high ceilings; pops of pastel blue and pink accent the predominantly neutral room; and bathrooms are clad with gorgeous emerald-hued Norwegian marble. There’s also plenty of attention to detail: lighting is easily adjustable from the beside tablet; toiletries are beautifully packaged and neatly arranged in slide boxes; and there are two robes to choose from, one that’s you’re traditional white terry cloth and the other a lightweight printed garment that you’ll be yearning to take home.
For groups and families the property also offers multi-bedroom options, the most spectacular being the three-bedroom ocean residence and the four-bedroom beach residence. The former boasts two expansive decks each outfitted with an infinity pool, a massage room, and a personal dhoni to shuttle you over to the resort’s restaurants and ESPA spa. The latter is a two-story villa where each room has their own en suite and either a patio or balcony. One large pool stretches out across the sand, but make sure to also take advantage of the alfresco lounging space for intimate gatherings and meals.
Joali is also the region’s first immersive art resort. Scattered across the island you’ll find several pieces from artists all around the world. Standout pieces include Misha Kahn’s underwater sculpture, which raises awareness about issues surrounding coral bleaching, and three pieces by Porky Hefer: a heron head that doubles as a chaise and two manta rays, one that hovers amongst the palm trees that acts as an experiential dining venue and a smaller version down by the beach that’s perfect for lounging by the ocean.
The focus on design also translates over to the restaurants. Saoke, which serves Japanese and Nikkei fare, was done by architect Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Tokyo-based Studio Glitt and hovers over the water. A long walkway leads into a hall lined with champagne- and sake-filled cases, opening up into an alfresco dining space that includes teppanyaki stations. But aesthetics aside, the food also speaks for itself, a rarity in the Maldives. There are also a bevy of other options to sate your appetite. Bellinis, an Italian fine-dining establishment, dishes out handmade pastas and pours some of the best wines in the world. Vandhoo offers a little bit of everything, drawing from South East Asian, Chinese, Mediterranean, and Levant cuisines. For those who want to whip up their own meal, Her Kitchen offers cooking classes. And there’s even a chocolate and ice cream shop to satisfy your sweet tooth. But don’t sleep on Mura Bar, which overlooks the property’s glistening pool and presents great seating options ranging from sunken booths surrounded by a blissful water feature to rustic, wooden stools scatted around palm trees on the beach. Lunch here is a must, where highlights range from light and healthy vibrant salads to indulgent lobster rolls. And make sure to also return at sunset when the skies are splashed with pink and purple hues, made even better by a refreshing cocktail or a visit to the whisky and cigar lounge.
Catering to discerning, well-heeled travelers, Joali is a total dream. And one that’ll be tough to beat.