A new nature-immersive wellbeing retreat is being built on the Maldivian island of Bodufushi. Scheduled to open in late 2021, Joali Being has been conceptualised and designed by Spa Strategy’s Claire Way while uplifting programmes have been created by Gerry Bodeker.
The Joali brand is the brainchild of owner and entrepreneur Esin Güral Argat, from Turkish-based Gürallar Group and complements the conglomerate’s mid-range Ali Bey Hotels & Resorts.
Joali Being will be a sister site to Joali Maldives which opened in 2019 with a signature ESPA Life spa.
The upcoming 68-villa destination is billed to be the brand’s biggest commitment to wellbeing yet – the spa itself features 39 treatment rooms – and has been designed to go beyond the scope of other tropical wellbeing retreats.
Way has been working on the project for more than three years. She says the beating heart of Joali Being will be the expansive Areka spa. Aside from the 39 treatment rooms, with equipment by Lemi, there will be a large hydrotherapy hall, including a sensory deprivation room, Russian banya, water therapies, halotherapy suite and a hammam. Guests will also have access to a Sound Therapy Hall and Discovery Sound Path (designed by the Svar Academy, India), fitness offerings and an over-water meditation deck.
Areka will be complemented by Aktar, Joali Being’s dedicated herbology centre. Here, guests will be able to address wellbeing concerns with a resident herbalist who specialises in preparing natural remedies using plants, spices and essential oils.
Way describes Joali Being as a stunning location that’s a complete break from everyday life and which is both remote yet accessible. In her opinion, the property will be one-of-a-kind, because the retreat will be the island’s only destination.
“There are no distractions, only transformational spaces spread across the island, where everything you do enhances your health,” she says, “the entire location is dedicated to enhancing wellbeing.”
Sense of weightlessness
The retreat’s philosophy is underpinned by four wellbeing pillars – mind, skin, microbiome and energy – and the project has been conceived with a sense of purpose and synergy, so all elements work together to help guests leave feeling healthier and happier, even if they decide not to deeply engage in wellbeing services.
Programmes will last between five days and three weeks and consist of a range of scientific therapies, diagnostic services, educational sessions and specialised therapeutic and complementary healing treatments.
All begin with an intelligent movement analysis and an integrative health assessment.
A concept of weightlessness has been developed with the help of Bodeker – researcher, industry figure and chair of the GWI’s Mental Wellness Initiative.
“We created programmes that would enable guests to experience transcendence and lightness, a sense of having lifted out of the weight of everyday cares and entered into new experiences of clarity and joy that could be carried home with support from the Joali wellbeing specialists,” he says.
“The pathways to these experiences include a unique world of programmes and experiences designed to ease away fatigue and tensions.”
Susanne Fisch will be spa and wellness manager, supported by industry consultant and founder of Spa and Wellness Collective, Melany Martinez Thomas, who is Joali’s director of wellbeing for both the company’s properties.
With a curated library and a calendar of interactive workshops, guests will also be able to discover the benefits of herbal teas and learn to make natural body creams, face masks and massage oils. In addition, a boutique will offer a handpicked selection of dried herbs, oils and natural cosmetics for purchase.
Guests will have access to a Learning Centre and a schedule of educational workshops and experiential classes with wellbeing experts and culinary maestros.
To round out the offering and cater to the microbiome pillar, Joali Being will offer fresh earth-to-table cuisine at a range of dining concepts where all menus have been curated by the retreat’s on-site nutritionists.
“Joali Being will be a perfect destination for everyone,” Way adds, “because everything they do comes from a place of positive wellbeing”.
Way says the design is inspired by the island setting and integrates nature throughout. During construction wild forest has been untouched and architects Cuneyt Bukulmez and interior design studio Autoban are realising the destination with biophilic principles to achieve harmony with nature.
Conservation and sustainability will play a major part in the retreat’s operation, with plans for a turtle sanctuary, a reef restoration project, greywater recycling system and food waste composter, among others.