Located in the Maldives’ southerly Thaa Atoll, COMO Maalifushi fits perfectly into its environment: an impressive and sophisticated contemporary island resort offering 65 land and over water rooms, suites and villas. These spaces include the COMO Residence, a duplex, four-bedroom property with amazing Indian Ocean views, contemporary living spaces, a media room and a full kitchen for self-sufficiency - with a butler on hand as required.
Three restaurants are available including Madi, an all-day dining venue serving Maldivian, Mediterranean, Indonesian, Thai and healthy COMO Shambhala cuisine; Tai, a Japanese restaurant serving fresh local seafood with a sunken sushi bar for terrace dining and the family friendly Thila, serving salads, seafood, pizzas and Turkish pide. This latter space also offers music, billiards and an open-air pool bar.
For holistic wellness, there is the COMO Shambhala Retreat with its eight over water, ocean-fronting treatment rooms, steam, sauna and Jacuzzi, a large pool, a fully equipped inside/outside gym and a spa boutique. The Spa also features an al fresco yoga pavilion with complimentary daily classes and private yoga, Pilates, and pranayama meditation tuition on request.
Activities wise, opportunities abound with resort facilities including a dive centre offering a variety of non-motorised water sports, a resort boutique, a Library and a Play by COMO children’s programme for kiddies aged four to 12 and a games room.
The first and only resort to be situated on the unspoilt Thaa Atoll, COMO Maalifushi is around an hour’s seaplane journey from Malé International Airport (approximately 161 kilometre distance) and 45 minutes away from sister property, COMO Cocoa Island.
The Maldives are a 754 kilometre string of islands located south of India and west of Sri Lanka. Most are less than two kilometres square with land no higher than two metres above sea level. Around 202 are inhabited with 90 given over to tourism.
A circular reef, the pristine Thaa Atoll is one of the largest in the world and comprises over 60 islands, many uninhabited, scattered over 1,295 square kilometres. It is known for its abundance of marine life, for clear visibility, for being almost completely surrounded by coral, for diving and for surf breaks and is situated between the atolls of Dhaalu and Laamu.
The low-lying nature of the resort references indigenous architecture and includes 33 overwater villas and suites and 32 beach villas, suites and garden rooms. With sleek, clean lines, a pared back contemporary aesthetic, thatched roofs and a neutral palette of whites and creams, the focus is on the environment – whether it is the lush plantings or the azure blue of the Indian Ocean.
Guest amenities in each room include Egyptian cotton linens; complimentary daily bottled water and fresh fruit; air-conditioning; private bars; Nespresso machines; 117-centimetre LED televisions (larger in the premium accommodation); COMO Shambhala bathroom amenities; private safe; beach bag and flip flops and a multimedia hub. Yoga mats are available on request. In addition, all the villas and above experience the services of COMO’s private butlers.
The over water accommodation is split into four categories ranging from One-Bedroom Water Suites (107 square metres) to Water Villas at 120 square metres of living space, to the Maalifushi Water Villa at 213 square metres of living space and the COMO villas at an enormous 408 square metres.
The Water Suites (as the name might suggest) are located over water and enjoy their own jetty looking out over the ocean. The spacious master bedroom, bath and living space look out onto a private deck with a plunge pool, lounges, a dining area and a lazing pavilion with direct access to the lagoon. Bathrooms are spacious with sunken baths and outdoor showers.
For those who gaze out over the ocean, the Water Villas are perfect and have the feel of a contemporary apartment afloat. There is a private infinity pool, sundeck and floor to ceiling windows over the sea whilst the bedroom features a separate dressing area and a spacious bathroom with twin vanities, sunken soaking tubs and outdoor shower. The deck offers loungers and an al fresco dining table.
The two-bedroom Maalifushi Water Villa is a magnificent space, offering bedrooms at either end of the living space to allow privacy, both with ensuite bathrooms, outdoor showers and dressing areas. They both look out onto the pool deck and the ocean beyond as does the open plan living area with ample seating and a dining table for up to eight people. There is a separate study room, a kitchen with a pantry for those midnight snacks and a guest powder room. The pool deck runs the entire length of the accommodation with a large pool, outdoor pavilion and a deck with loungers and a dining space.
The largest over water spaces are given over to the simply stunning two-bedroom COMO Villas, the resort’s ultimate luxury experience, which come complete with butler service. This spacious accommodation directly faces the ocean with even the bathroom enjoying sliding doors out onto the deck and the sea beyond.
On the land side, the entry level rooms are the Garden Rooms at 72 square metres of space, the Beach Suites are larger at 101 square metres, moving up to the beach villas at 116 square metres and the two-bedroom beach suites at 131 square metres. The two-bedroom beach villas are a spacious 145 square metres; whilst some prefer the two-bedroom beach house at 178 square metres and the Maalifushi Beach Villa at 296 square metres. The largest land space is given over to the duplex COMO Residence at 356 square metres.
The Garden Rooms are sited right in the heart of the jungle in the island’s centre and enjoy a cool, shady outlook but are still just a few footsteps from the sandy beach and all the resort’s amenities. Open plan with indoor/outdoor living, these rooms can be interconnected to offer more space as required. The spacious and private One- and Two-Bedroom Beach Suites also enjoy the shady benefits of jungle living but at the same time have direct access to the beach and a plunge pool to cool off during the day.
The Beach Villas meanwhile are light and airy spaces with floor to ceiling windows and French doors allowing inside/outside living out onto the spacious pool deck with their loungers and dining spaces.
The Two Bedroom Beach House is a duplex space leading out onto its own private lawn with a wide balcony / terrace off the upstairs master bedroom suite which takes over the entire upper floor, with amazing ocean views and an ample pool deck with dining tables and a pool downstairs. The living areas are downstairs alongside a second bedroom.
The Maalifushi Beach Villa meanwhile offers two bedrooms separated by the open plan living and dining areas and an enclosed study. At the centre of the space is a kitchen for rustling up snacks and a guest powder room. Every living space opens out onto the enormous outdoor terrace with its loungers, dining space, seating pavilion and sleek welcoming pool.
The four-bedroom COMO Residence is the largest accommodation in the resort and is essentially a stand-alone two storey beach house with both shaded terraces overlooking a pool and lawned garden and an upstairs balcony large enough for tables, chairs and loungers. With ocean views from every which way, the space also includes a large living area, a spacious media room and a full kitchen.
For pampering and wellbeing, head to the COMO Shambhala Retreat which provides holistic wellness and Asian-inspired therapies, massages, facials and reflexology with expansive views out over the ocean. Group and private yoga, pilates, fitness and meditation sessions are available at the open-air Yoga Pavilion and/or the Yoga Studio, taught by accredited teachers, together with family yoga classes. Guests may also learn the art of massage from the expert COMO Shambhala therapists.
The Retreat features eight treatments rooms – four for couples – with each containing two treatment beds, a changing area and access to a private sundeck; a well-equipped fitness centre with cardio machines and weights; a large 44 metre freeform swimming pool; separate male and female steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzi. There’s also a Spa Boutique selling COMO Shambhala’s bodycare products and Active Living Collection.
The waters surrounding the COMO Maalifushi are clear, calm and beautiful, offering excellent water-based activities from diving to surfing with the resort providing a full range of diving experiences for all levels from learn to dive PADI courses to night dives on nearby reefs.
There is a plethora of activity choices with a Dive and Watersports Centre offering non-motorised watersports including surfing, snorkelling and catamaran sailing with authoritative, safe access to the Maldives’ vibrant marine life. There is also cruise opportunities on-board “Cameron”, the 21 metre Hatteras “sport-fisher” yacht, for sunset or dolphin watching, fishing trips, diving “off grid” or beach picnics on deserted nearby islands Robinson Crusoe style. For the thrill seekers, there are a number of motorised activities available including zipping around the lagoon, wakeboarding, waterskiing and tubing.
For guests who wish to explore more, guided aquasafaris are available with the resort’s resident marine biologist to include a Whale Shark Night Snorkelling Experience. There are also very good surf breaks in and around Thaa Atoll with a number of surfing opportunities.
Other experiences include Turtle Expedition snorkelling; a Lavadhoo Sleepover in a luxury tent on the nearby uninhabited private island; family or romantic castaway picnics; windsurfing and sailing lessons; coral propagation; romantic sailing on a traditional Dhoni; guided Kayak tours; UV night snorkelling and much more.
For families, childminding and babysitting services are provided with menus for infants and children. The dedicated Play by COMO space is designed for kiddies aged four to 12 with toys, books, games and art materials – all designed to creatively inspire.
Other facilities include a resort boutique, a Library for some quiet time and of course, a gorgeous beach for just relaxing and whiling the day away.
This beautifully curated resort designed by Japanese architect Koichiro Ikebuchi has style in abundance as one might expect from the COMO Hotels and Resorts collection and Christina Ong. The inspiration for the resort, built from New Zealand pine with Kajan thatched roofs, references indigenous architecture with no building above palm tree height. The interiors meanwhile enjoy high raftered ceilings and teak floors and are sophisticated and elegant, pared-back settings which complement the island’s serene setting making the destination the focus.
It’s cool, contemporary ambiance with a superb service culture, is nevertheless, casual and laid back with guests simply enjoying themselves cycling around the island or hanging out at the beach. It is pitched exactly right for today’s discerning luxury travellers and I cannot wait to return.
Freshness of produce with organic produce grown at the resort are key to the three restaurants at COMO Maalifushi. Madi (meaning Manta Ray) is the main restaurant for all day dining and is a semi-circular space curling around the pool with a soaringly high thatched roof with seating inside and spilling out onto an al fresco terrace. The wide menu choices include local, Mediterranean and global favourites and there are three themed nights each week including “A Taste of the Indian Ocean” with traditional Maldivian Boduberu dancing and drumming; a Thai night showcasing the region’s most popular dishes and a seafood barbeque complete with live music from local musicians.
The aptly named Tai (Japanese for red snapper), another thatched space open to the rafters, presents locally sustainably caught seafood from the Indian Ocean with the space also offering a cocktail bar with views out over the ocean. Also, head here between 5 and 6 pm to see a shiver of sharks …
Thila, named for rock formations in the Maldives, is the laid-back, kick-back easy-going restaurant perfect for family dining which also features pool tables and an open-air pool bar for moving onto after dining. Popular menu items include salads, seafood, and pizzas.
For those who like private dining à deux, COMO Maalifushi will prepare intimate, gourmet meals either in-room or on the beach. Picnics are also extremely popular and can be enjoyed on the nearby uninhabited islands, prepared by chef and served by butlers.
COMO Shambhala Cuisine is served at Madi, in-room dining and for private dining. It is a unique nutritional concept incorporating organic ingredients rich in living enzymes, vitamins and sea minerals. The tandoor is also used by the chefs for fat free cooking which lends a charcoal flavour to the food.
COMO Hotels and Resorts are committed to celebrating local culture, supporting the domestic economy and minimising their impact on the environment, acting as custodians of the locations where their properties are based.
By reducing consumption, they are committed to reducing their use of precious natural resources by managing their water and energy usage, installing efficient equipment and fixtures. Employee engagement is key as is guest participation who can choose to re-use towels and linens during their stay or shutting windows and sliding doors to conserve energy.
COMO also sources locally if possible, supporting local producers, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and non-profit organisations. Suppliers are chosen not only for the quality of their products but also for being leaders of sustainable economic development in their communities. Believing in sustainable development, COMO also partners with local organisations to preserve cultural traditions, habitats and biodiversity.
Other initiatives at COMO Maalifushi includes reducing its environmental footprint by making the most of the island’s natural resources such as using solar energy to generate 15% of the energy used in the hotel, bottling fresh drinking water in glass bottles and using produce – fruit and vegetables – from their organic garden.
The property aids Ecocean with their cataloguing efforts by sharing new sightings of whale sharks and partners with Reefscrapers to implement their ongoing reef conservation project.
Guests may sponsor and install coral frames following its progress online.