Joali, Maldives: An immersive art hotel founded in the name of peaceful wellness and quiet decadence

The latest addition to the Raa Atoll, Joali is the perfect spot for those looking to sit back and recharge in a resort where every possible need or desire has been anticipated and catered to. Alexandra Fraser paid a visit.

Can I pick you up for dinner at 6pm, Ma’am?’ I’m still basking in post-massage bliss when my personal jadugar – butler or, if translated literally, magician – deposits me back at my villa and starts preparing for the evening. Your jadugar is just one of many magical touches that set Joali – a new Maldivian resort – apart from the neighbouring competition.

The emphasis here is firmly on wellness and relaxation and the design is undisputedly feminine. The arrival jetty – a work of art, which morphs seamlessly from manta ray to two entwined fish as you view it from different angles – is a welcome sight following a long flight and exhilarating seaplane transfer (boat transfers are also available).

The arrival jetty is just the beginning of Joali’s wonders. A so-called ‘immersive art hotel’, artists from all over the world have contributed to the ornamentation of this latest special resort. From the walls of the Italian restaurant Bellini’s to the stools one perches on for sunset drinks at Mura Bar, attention to detail is a Joalian lifestyle which permeates everything, extending to the attentive staff who are on call at any given time, determined to make your stay idyllic.

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Sleep in Style

The Maldives are synonymous with water villas and this resort has them in spades, with thatched roofs, individual infinity pools and works of art. Each one is perched on stilts over a cerulean sea. If oceanic living isn’t your glass of Dom Pérignon – the 2009 vintage was popped aplenty at the resort’s opening late last year – you’ll find a selection of beach villas, sequestered amid palms and banyan trees.

While both offer private pools and sumptuous accommodation, the water villas are ideal for those looking to plunge into the ocean first thing in the morning and the beach villas better suited to those wishing to stroll down their own private path onto the bright white sands which hug the island proper.

Beach villa with private pool from $1,924 (about £1,456) per night, based on two sharing on a B&B basis. To book, visit

While you’re there

You don’t have far to travel to explore the Muravandhoo Island, part of the Raa Atoll, on which Joali rests, which feels a million miles away from reality. Bikes are available or, alternatively, your jadugar is always on hand with a golf-style buggy.

Make time to visit all three of Joali’s restaurants. Japanese Saoke, naturally cooled by the water it stands above, boasts a particularly impressive selection of sake and Mura Bar serves up a delicious lobster roll.

The marine life here is abundant, so take to the water on a snorkelling or yachting excursion accompanied by a knowledgeable marine biologist.

Visit the Joali Spa and hammam – it uses products from fêted British aromatherapy brand ESPA. A foot massage upon arrival will perfectly set the scene for your stay, while a Sleep Ritual massage (which you can request to be moved to your villa should the ride from the main island over the water seem too strenuous) will send you off into a slumber you may struggle to rouse yourself from for sunrise yoga.

Much of the resort’s furniture has been painstakingly homemade. Book a private dinner in the giant Manta Ray Tree House, crafted from native wicker by South African artist Porky Hefer or sit back with a book in his bird sculpture, which hangs in the trees off Mura Bar.

You wont want to leave but when you do, you can be sure that the memory of your days here will keep you warm on even the chilliest English night. Joali is unlike anything I have waiting for me at home, but sipping a Maldivian mojito at Mura bar, I decide to not think about that yet.