Inside The World’s First Wellness Island

By Bettina Campolucci Bordi

2 weeks ago

Welcome to Joali Being

Bettina Campolucci Bordi takes a trip to Joali Being, a wellness resort in the Maldives.

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Review: Joali Being, Maldives

Bedroom with canopy bed, pink chaise longue and a view of palm trees outside.

The Maldives has always been on my travel list, but it wasn’t until I was asked to do a collaboration with Joali Being – the first ‘wellbeing island’ of its kind – that I really felt compelled to finally experience it for myself. Having been in the wellness industry for the last 12 years running, as well as hosting my own retreats, I was intrigued to find out what Joali had to offer in this space.

The resort is located on the island of Bodufushi – 45 minutes by seaplane from the capital, Malé. Upon landing, we were greeted (Nine Perfect Strangers style) by a row of welcoming staff who served us a refreshing drink before we were introduced to our dedicated ‘Jadugar’ (the Maldivian word for ‘magician’) who, during the course of our week, would be our point of contact and make things magically appear.

Covering 30 acres, Joali Being has 68 rooms (known as Well Living Spaces): a combination of the overwater villas the Maldives are known for, plus beach villas and three restaurants; a spa; holistic fitness pavilion; a water sports center; vegetable gardens; and a turtle conservation sanctuary.

Spa with raised marble table in the centre.

Joali Being was created by Turkish businesswoman Esin Gural Argat, whose stunning feminine touch and mantra ‘Be brave, think different, do good’ is seen throughout the property. Joali Being is designed around the Four Pillar concept, based on elements necessary for a long and healthy life: skin, mind, energy and microbiome.

The concept also seeps into Joali Being’s food, with menus using ingredients that support each of the prescribed pillars, along with a clearly marked breakdown of calories, fat and protein – making it easy to make decisions based on your goals. The food pillar is where my collaboration with Joali came in, including a multi-course pop-up dinner featuring ingredients from the gardens and celebrating plants, along with workshops for guests, kitchen staff and a local female community from neighbouring islands. One of my dishes included a filled hibiscus flower with aged macadamia nut cheese on a bed of aquafaba mayonnaise. I might even have cooked for a princess or two.

Let’s talk about the rooms and spaces. Each room is perfect for switching off from the tech world: there are no TVs in the bedrooms, no plug sockets by the bed, and there’s no wi-fi in public areas, of which I’m a big fan. Every room features a wellness bar (aka mini bar) filled with healthy snacks and drinks rather than alcohol. High ceilings create harmony with nature, and the island’s wild forest remains untouched, which is rare. Each of the 68 villas have a private pool, outdoor area and access to the beach; this is a dream, and as stunning as you can imagine. Getting around the island is easy, since everyone gets a personalised bicycle to help travel from one activity to the other – which is something my 11 year old daughter loved.

Spa treatment room with a thatched roof

During our stay, I also got to experience body and facial treatments as well as group activities including tea tasting, cryotherapy (my favourite) and daily yoga.

Some of our family favourite activities, meanwhile, included snorkelling cycling around the island and having the opportunity to switch off in between my pop-up preparations and workshops. The best one for me, however, was the perfume-making workshop at the resort’s herbology center, AKTAR. With the help of an aromatherapist, I concocted a beautiful fragrance composed of my favourite scents (orange and sandalwood, amongst others). Other activities include candle making and art in the dedicated art center.

To say that our stay was special is an understatement. Some of my favorite moments were spent chatting to staff, each immersed and genuinely passionate about their area of expertise. I would return in a heartbeat.


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