Agent Report - The Maldives
The Joys of Joali
Poe’s own Lacey James can finally check the Maldives off of her bucket list, thanks to a little help from our friends at Hummingbird. “I’d always wanted to experience the Maldives,” says Lacey. So this spring she and husband Jeff jetted off for a well-deserved 25th-anniversary celebration. With its exquisite overwater bungalows, crystalline waters, and glorious sunsets, the allure of the Maldives needs little explanation. Lacey confirms that it not only met her expectations but exceeded them.
Set on a lush 24-acre island in the Raa Atoll, Joali is a short 45-minute seaplane ride from Malé. The game of hotel one-upmanship has escalated exponentially in this region, but Joali is unique. They’ve taken a back-to-basics, eco-friendly, art-inspired approach; it is, in fact, the nation’s first immersive art hotel. On the whole, the design is restrained, except for the astonishing arrivals jetty set 16 feet above ground level—a structure that looks, from one side, like a manta ray and, from the other, like two fish kissing. (Astonishingly, it also doubles as an intimate treehouse restaurant for eight!) Rays the roof!
Lacey and Jeff had always dreamed of staying in an overwater villa, and this one came complete with private infinity pool and hammock overlooking the Indian Ocean. “We watched a pod of dolphins swim and play right in front of our villa,” she says. When she managed to tear herself away from their luxe bungalow, Lacey could be found relaxing at the Espa spa (“the best massage of my life”), snorkeling with manta rays, strolling through the gardens, and riding bikes. They also rode in a glass bottom kayak and saw all manner of marine life including sharks, octopus, and squid. Other activities available include: tennis, diving, water skiing, dhoni cruises, and interactive workshops with the resort’s artist-in-residence. “We were surprised that there were a lot of families with young children—mostly European,” notes Lacey. Though there is certainly enough to keep all ages occupied.*
The food also deserves a mention because it stands out from other resorts in the area. “The food was fabulous—so fresh,” says Lacey. There are several dining options; one draws on local recipes while another is devoted solely to artisanal chocolate. This place really is heaven on earth!