JOALI Maldives

An island take on innovation and art

“One of a kind” is a phrase too freely thrown around in relation to new Maldives resorts, but the 2018-opened Joali Maldives genuinely stands out for its originality and flair. The attention to detail that has gone into creating Joali is astounding. The visionary architects at Autoban can be credited with the resort’s fairytale finished look.

The elegant villas take inspiration from across Asia, with elements such as large teak panels and terrazzo flooring highlighting the spaces. The villas evoke a sense of luxury and refinement while also being homely. Likewise, the impeccable service is warm rather than overly servile.

Another impressive feature of the Maldivian resort: One thousand of the island’s trees were carefully preserved throughout the entire construction phase.The landscaping is so subtle that it gives the impression of a wild island yet the exotic flowers and vegetation have been gently teased into place. And, of course, an added bonus to preserving so many trees is that they help to keep the island cool.

The name “Joali” not only (and rather appropriately) sounds like jolie (the French word for pretty) but it means “chair” in the local Dhivehi language. And as such, there are several chair-shaped sculptures dotted around the beautiful island. But the interpretation goes even deeper than that. A joali is a quintessentially Maldivian type of chair for relaxing; everyone has one outside their home in the remote island communities. Therefore, the connotations of homeliness and hospitality run deep throughout Joali.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • Few other resorts in the Maldives have such paradisiacal views. There are no other resorts or even inhabited islands in sight in any direction. There are only a few tiny virgin islands scattered around, and it’s unlikely they are large enough to be built upon, which means the views will probably remain unspoiled.
  • The water villas are cleverly positioned just off the sandbank on the western corner of the island, which gives the impression of them being separate from the island.
  • The snaking water villa jetty that melts into a double helix is a nice design aesthetic.
  • Unique features include a manta ray-shaped tree house designed by Cape Town architect Porky Hefer. The relaxing spot is made from wood and coconut thatch, has lovely views and serves as a refuge when you want to escape the sizzling beach.
  • Joali was billed as the first art-immersive Maldives hotel. To help bring that title to life, Istanbul-based art curators No LaB gathered more than 60 pieces from noted and up-and-coming international talents for the resort. You can follow Studio Hoick’s artwork map or simply wander around and uncover new surprises on your own.

Things to Know

  • For the best sunset views at Joali, request one of the higher numbered Sunset Water villas.
  • The public and private areas have been beautifully integrated. Since there are only 73 villas (although there’s space for many others), there’s a feeling of seclusion that many of the Maldives’ other new resorts lack.
  • You can access the reef from three sides of the island. The best area for snorkeling is around both sides of Espa Spa, where the coral is in pretty good condition on the small drop-off and there’s an abundance of parrotfish and butterflyfish.

The Rooms

  • The understated exteriors give little away as to how pretty and spacious the interiors are. Bamboo, woven palm leaves and carved wood provide textures and depth, set against softer touches like plush rugs and romantic drapes over the beds.
  • Forgoing the beige tones so common in Maldivian resorts, units are sprinkled in soft pinks, golds and blues to reflect the colors of the sunset. The hues also contribute in giving the rooms a delicate appearance.
  • Woven ceiling fans, screens and arches evoke a sense of colonial South-East Asia.
  • The plunge pools are large and melt seamlessly into the design, as do the private salas adjacent to them.
  • The AC, TV and even the drapes are controlled via an easy-to-use tablet.

The Restaurants

  • Of the three restaurants at the luxury hotel, Saoke Japanese restaurant (designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu) offers the most romantic views and unforgettable iron-grilled cuisine. You can watch baby reef sharks and rays swimming mere feet from your table.
  • However, it’s Bellinis fine Italian restaurant that steals the culinary crown. Try the melt-in-the-mouth tenderloin with rocket, cherry tomatoes and balsamic reduction or ask the cheese expert for recommendations for an artisanal spread.

Babysitting services
Fitness classes
Getting There
Muravandhoo Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives
Additional Details
There are several ways to get to the resort: a 40-minute seaplane flight takes you from Male to the Muravandhoo Island; take a 35-minute flight from Male to Ifuru Airport, then hop on a speedboat for a 15-minute ride to Muravandhoo; or charter your own seaplane.