JOALI Maldives

Review of JOALI Maldives review by Varun Sharma

The first of two JOALI lifestyle properties in the northern Maldives situated on neighbouring private islands, the luxurious JOALI Maldives opened in 2018 and sits on Muravandhoo Island, tucked away in the secluded and idyllic Rae Atoll.  Each resort has its own style and focus with JOALI BEING on Bodufushi offering a nature immersive wellbeing retreat for adults only (14 years plus) and JOALI Maldives offering an immersive art experience. 

Surrounded by the deep turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, complete with palm fringed white sandy beaches, JOALI Maldives is all about sustainable glamour and the design and construction has been sensitively done, built around existing trees, to ensure the delicate ecosystem is maintained. There are 73 elegantly appointed beach and ocean over water villas offering one-to-four-bedroom villas and residences served by six restaurants and bars with cuisine ranging from Asian, to Peruvian, Italian and Mediterranean dishes. For cigar lovers, the Whiskey & Cigar Lounge is an obvious lure as is La Joie, serving chocolate and ice creams for those with a sweet tooth. 

What sets this property apart however are the artworks, with interactive and experiential pieces located throughout the island. Many pieces resulted from an artistic collaboration with local artists and artisans, supporting their community, whilst any artistic guest may take to the canvas in the hotel’s art studio. It is the Maldives first and only immersive art resort. 

Other facilities include the JOALI Spa by ESPA with eight treatment rooms; a second floor fully equipped Fitness Centre for working out with a view; a large outdoor pool; a Yoga Pavilion; tennis courts; a water and marine sports centre; a Library for those wanting some quiet time and a boutique – the Maison de JOALI. The property also has its own chef’s garden and for children, the Kids of JOALI programme will keep them focused and entertained for hours with treasure hunts, storytelling, cooking classes and more.

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Located in the northern Maldives on Muravandhoo Island in the Rae Atoll, JOALI Maldives is just a 45-minute shared seaplane ride away from Malé International Airport. Guests may enjoy the facilities of the private JOALI Lounge whilst waiting for their connecting flight to the resort. JOALI has its own branded private seaplane for chartered transfers taking eight guests directly to the resort from the airport. This service includes VIP welcome and complimentary refreshments in the private seaplane lounge. 

There are 90 islands comprising Rae Atoll, 17 of which are inhabited including Bodufishi Island, home to JOALI BEING. The Atoll is located close to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with access to the manta ray sanctuaries in Baa Atoll itself. The area is renowned for sailing and surfing with its unspoilt and relatively underexploited dive sites, much sought after by experienced divers.



There are 73 elegantly appointed beach and ocean traditionally-thatched roofed villas – all with private pools and outdoor showers - offering the epitome of sustainable glamour for those who appreciate the better things in life - style, beauty and above all, privacy. The choice really is between those who love to look out over the vast blue horizons from an over-water villa or those who like to dig their toes into the sand with a beach villa offering direct beach access. 

Inside, there is movie star decor with soaringly high ceilings, carved wooden panels, draped luxury beds, custom contemporary furnishings with a 1940’s vibe and a soothing neutral palette complemented with vibrant artwork, all made from recycled or sustainable materials. A dedicated Jadugar (private butler) will attend to any whim whilst each villa has its own bicycles for exploring the island. He or she is a “magician” and will conjure up treats to make you feel special 

Each villa offers flatscreen televisions with Apple TV; hair straighteners; safes; tea and coffee making facilities; air-conditioning; a Bose sound system; a hairdryer; non-allergenic pillows, a mini bar and Wi-Fi. The spacious bathrooms with twin vanities, separate rain showers and deep soaking tubs, offer in-room amenities which are 100% nature and safe for marine life. 

There are five types of over water accommodation available. The starting point are the Water Villas at 100 square metres of space which are essentially a one-bedroom suite with an infinity pool sitting out in the Indian Ocean. There is a lounging area on a lower deck looking out directly over the ocean (with direct water access) and a shaded thatched outside seating area for staying cool. The Sunset Water Villas are similarly sized but offer those prized sunset views. 

The luxury versions – Luxury Water Villas and Sunset Luxury Water Villas – are both sized at 108 square metres of space and come with separate, spacious living rooms, a large sundeck with private infinity pool and a state-of-the-art home and lighting system with the Sunset version again, orientated to enjoy the sunset views. The largest over water residence – Three Bedrooms Ocean Residence with Two Pools – is literally a mansion afloat – 400 square metres of living space (990 square metres in total) with three bedrooms each with dressing rooms and two built in wardrobes; two living rooms, two infinity pools and even a private spa room for in-room indulgences. It also offers the most amazing uninterrupted ocean views from both terraces and balconies. 

On land, there are six categories of beach villa and residence. The entry level Beach Villas start at 108 square metres of living space and include a master suite, a living area, a private beach, an infinity pool and a garden. The Two Bedroom Villas with pool offer 157 square metres of space and are ideal for families with children as it can accommodate up to five people sharing. There is a separate living room, an outdoor swimming pool and an outdoor beach terrace. 

The Luxury Beach Villas at 117 square metres include two guest bedrooms, a separate and roomy living area, a cosy library and a private infinity pool whilst the two-bedroom version offers two pools – one at the front and a more private one located at the back in a garden setting. The Family Beach Villa also has two pools and offers a villa plus a separate suite at 142 square metres of space. There are two bedrooms, a separate living area, a private beach garden with an infinity pool, an outdoor beach terrace and a dining area. 

The Four Bedroom Beach Residence is more like a two-story private house at 500 square metres of space with four en suite bedrooms; a library with a curated book collection; a separate butler room; an enormous infinity pool and a private beach. Accommodating up to eight people comfortably, there is round the clock service and a buggy with driver to scoot you around the island.

Service & Facilities


What sets this property apart are the artworks, with interactive and experiential pieces located throughout the island. Many pieces resulted from an artistic collaboration with local artists and artisans, supporting their community, whilst any artistic guest may take to the canvas in the hotel’s art studio. The Art Studio & Gallery showcases local art and hosts interactive events with guest artists and workshops. There is also an Art Map to help you find each piece of art around the island by yourself. 

For pampering, head to JOALI Spa by ESPA, offering tailor-made treatments as well as personalised wellness programmes combining spa and fitness. Set within beautifully landscaped gardens with seaside vistas, there are eight treatment rooms available, each with stunning garden and seaside views and a relaxation room nestled within the gardens. There is also a Healing Garden, growing signature spa ingredients – some used for specific ailments, others for an overall positive impact. The Fitness Centre, with its range of cardio and weight equipment, is situated on the second floor for that perfect exercise with a view incentive. Personal trainers are available on request.

Other facilities include a Yoga Pavilion for private yoga or meditation sessions; The Maison de JOALI boutique for teas, textiles and decorative objet d’art; the complimentary Kids of JOALI programme with treasure hunting, rock climbing, kid’s pool, storytelling, cooking classes, basic yoga classes and much more on the agenda. The Library on the other hand is perfect for enjoying a quiet interlude with a book. There are three main rooms offering sumptuous sustenance as well as literature. 

This being the Maldives, water and marine sports are an obvious offering and facilities here include water skiing, parasailing, catamaran rental, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, wakeboarding and snorkelling with a marine biologist. There are also tennis courts with professional tennis services from LUX Tennis and diving with PADI courses for the beginner to the expert diver offered with dive excursions. 

There are many excursions to enjoy at JOALI Maldives and the team here can arrange anything from yachting to private speedboat hires, sailing on a Dhoni, visiting neighbouring islands or looking out for manta rays and whales.



This beautiful resort of JOALI Maldives has style written right through it from its design and location to the sustainable way it is operated. 

Showcasing the arts with local artist collaborations is a smart way to give back to the community whilst JOALI’s owner, Esin Gural Argat, has deliberately selected women to lead projects and further the resort’s eco glamour. You can therefore get in touch with your feminine side with mini-libraries of female-inspired books and immersive art installations curated by female collective No LaB, ensuring every aspect of JOALI echoes Ms Argat’s feminist leanings. It is rare indeed in the predominantly male orientated hotel industry to find a luxury hospitality brand which is driven both by sustainability and female empowerment and it points to a very different way of thinking which is much to be admired. 

With a mantra of sustainable luxury, where even your journey here and back covered by the resort’s offsetting policies, Ms Argat has everything covered so what’s not to love?  You are left free to enjoy a fabulously guilt free holiday at one of the Maldives’ most stylish and glamorous resorts. It seems like heaven to me.

Restaurants & Bars


The six dining options offer cuisine from South East Asia, China, Japan, the Mediterranean and the Levant. 

For breakfast and all-day dining, there is Vanhoo Restaurant under a traditional thatch with a chic and crisp blue and white theme, offering a range of cuisines on its menus including South East Asia, China, the Mediterranean and the Levant with options available for even the most pickiest of eaters, accompanied by a wide range of hand-picked wines from around the world. 

Her Kitchen allows guests to cook and enjoy local Dhivehi recipes alongside experienced chefs in a professional restaurant kitchen for that personal touch whilst Saoke is a floating Japanese restaurant serving sakes, sushi and teppanyaki. Designed by renowned architect, Noriyoshi Muramatsu, the lounge offers wonderful ocean views, perfect for private brunches and dining. The restaurant’s menus offer fusion cuisine devised by chef Hidemasa Yamamoto which combine his Japanese heritage with his European training. 

TUH’U serves Levant cuisine under night lit palm trees and a deep blue sky with no light pollution in sight. Enjoy mezze platters, cold cuts Fattoush, tabbouleh, tajines, kebabs and more in an al fresco setting. 

For a touch of the Meditteranean, Bellinis, under the toque of Italian Michelin-starred chef, Theodor Falser, offers farm to table authentic Italian cuisine with an accompanying bar offering anything from fresh peach Bellinis to homemade limoncellos made from locally grown lemons. Mura Bar meanwhile overlooks the beach and pool with guests invited to relax in cabanas or infinity pods whilst enjoying a menu of snacks and street food. There are surprise event nights too with sunset rituals and live music. For cigar enthusiasts, head over to The Whisky & Cigar Lounge, a private area attached to Mura Bar where guests may enjoy a peaceful smoke and an after-dinner tipple. For the sweet toothed, there is La Joie for that perfect dessert spot, with key ingredients including fresh fruit, chocolate and vanilla whilst the curious will enjoy watching the ice cream made to measure in nitrogen dishes too – true molecular gastronomy! 

Private dining options abound here but one special experience with sunrise and sunset views includes a treetop experience for eight people at The Manta Ray Treehouse with artist Porky Hefer’s Manta Ray sculpture high up in the canopy. Alternatively, dine on a luxury yacht, take out a picnic to a desert island – whatever your dining pleasure, the culinary team will deliver.


JOALI is a luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand which is committed to sustainability under the idea of “responsible luxury”.  Every aspect of the resort bows to eco-tourism with the resort’s buildings carefully built around existing trees and local palm fronds used to produce the roofs. 

The resort helps with Reef Restoration with a two-step gardening concept focused on planting corals that show resilience to heat and ensuring healthy genetic diversity. The property has a coral nursery where coral fragments that have fallen naturally from the reefs are protectively re-planted in the islands’ waters away from disease and predators. 

Their recycling initiatives include operating their own glass water bottling plant, using bio-waste to make natural fertilisers and operating a specialised wastewater treatment system to keep the jungle greenery flamboyantly healthy. Even the in-room amenities are 100% nature and safe for marine life. 

The resort offsets each guest’s journey with a Joy of Planting Scheme whereby new trees are planted based on the estimated carbon footprint. 

Sustainability is a keyword for the resort and the team employ responsible sourcing for products such as fair-trade teas, single origin coffee beans and hand caught lobster. The coffee enjoyed at the resort is single origin and sourced directly from reputable farms overseas, its origin transparently traced back to a farm. A similar tale overseas tea drinking too with products sourced from Newby – a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership which seeks to better the lives of plantation farmers and preserving environments for tea production. 

The Chef’s Garden at the resort grows the organic vegetables and herbs required for the dining venues, reducing the food carbon footprint. 

JOALI Maldives is Silver Certified by EarthCheck for initiatives designed to create a sustainable future.

What We Love

  • Facilities:  So much, so many! From a superb children’s club to the dive centre, guests expect much and receive much.  While the Spa cannot compare to its sister at JOALI BEING, the aestheticians are experienced and can smooth out the stresses of life.
  • Service:  Spot-on. Friendly and genuine without being too obtrusive. Yes, your personal “magician” (butler) is on hand to make your holiday dreams come true but the Staff – without exception – greet their guests with huge smiles and nods of appreciation.
  • Accommodation:  If you want colourful, plush, comfortable, “busy” villas – filled with every facility & amenity possible, then JOALI is for you. This a top Paris, New York or London suite in the Maldives. Who needs a beach when you have a JOALI pool?

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Team: JOALI is the place where you surround yourself with happiness and warmth, with smiles and genuine people’’ 
  • Wellness: A place where you discover the joy of leaving in everything. A tasty bite from Saoke, an artistic sunset location of Manta tree house, Jadugars magical touch or sunsets changing colours
  • Freedom: The place genuinely makes you feel like being at home away from home  

    Enver Arslan
    General Manager
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