At COMO Maalifushi, there’s no need for masks; rather than the usual “please put your mask on, Sir!”, the friendly staff would instead kindly ask you to take it off. The reason for this is the fresh, clean air that is an integral element of the resort’s wellness philosophy. But not to worry: mandatory PCR testing on site ensures the safety of all guests. Here, the only thing you’ll need your mask for is snorkelling.
The only resort nestled in the tranquil Thaa Atoll, COMO Maalifushi can be reached by a picturesque 60-minute seaplane flight from Malé. The resort’s unique selling point lies in its wondrous coral reef surroundings; vibrant flowerpot, mushroom and branching corals are home to dozens of marine species, including parrotfish, butterflyfish and octopus to name a few. There are plenty of options for diving, snorkelling and fishing to access this vibrant marine life, and the area is also home to a gorgeous strip of beach for sunbathing and some excellent dive sites, including a whale shark hangout offering the chance to see whale and hammerhead sharks.
It’s not hard to notice that the resort drastically differs in style from its other Maldivian colleagues. Here, the mood is tropical minimalism, with all its clean lines, thatched roofs, bleached woods and billowing white muslin. This clever optical trick by Japanese interior designer Koichiro Ikebuchi allows the 50-shades-of-blue ocean to take centre stage, enticing famous fashion designers and Hollywood stars from all over the world.
Reside in one of the 33 overwater villas or suites, 32 beach villas, suites or garden rooms, all built from yellow balau with Kajan thatched roofs, referencing indigenous architecture while retaining an elegant simplicity that reflects the island’s calming setting. Overwater suites and villas are built off wooden walkways that stand above a shallow lagoon, each with its own private terrace and pool, while garden villas and suites are set within the folds of the island’s lush tropical vegetation. The interiors are soothing in the extreme, emphasising natural beauty and spaciousness: huge bathrooms with enormous Japanese-style soaking tubs, vaulted ceilings, pale woods, white-netted beds, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto dreamy views of endless Indian Ocean horizons.
Since the whole concept of the retreat is wellness, spa, and ultimate relaxation, we highly recommend visiting the COMO Shambhala Retreat at COMO Maalifushi - a place to relax, recuperate and feel well, guided by expert therapists and authentic Indian gurus. Start your day with some sunrise yoga or indulge in one of the signature facials, massages and body therapies on offer, including the special COMO Active Anti-Aging Retreat, which blends meditation with pranayama breathing, low-impact exercise, languorous Thai massages, time-reversing facials and nourishing spa cuisine. This very cuisine was developed by COMO Hotels and Resorts' Culinary Vice President Daniel Moran for those seeking better health through nutritional, low-calorie eating. Largely organic and often locally sourced, the cuisine replaces refined foods with naturally-occurring sugars, and bad fats with nutritious nuts and oils.
But wellness and ultimate relaxation can mean completely different things for different people. Those who want to burn calories or keep their muscles ripped can head to the gym, filled with state-of-the-art equipment. Others can swing by the watersports centre, pick up some snorkelling gear and play in the house reef or go kayaking, windsurfing or stand-up paddleboarding. The centre’s expert team offers an array of extraordinary experiences, including deep-sea fishing on a £1m 68 Hatteras convertible yacht or splash-net dolphin-spotting cruises, where guests sit in the net of a dhoni and are towed through the ocean, surrounded by friendly dolphin neighbours. For adrenaline junkies, we recommend an adventure not for the faint of heart: night swimming with three-metre-wide whale sharks.
Taste wellness and experience authentic Asian cuisine with a contemporary flair at one of the resort’s distinctive restaurants. In the morning, drop by an open-air restaurant called Madi, which means “manta ray” in the local language. Here, you will find a buffet of wellness juices, tropical fruit, breads, pastries and Asian specialities. Alternatively, the eatery offers à la carte dishes such as blueberry hotcakes, eggs Florentine and a full English breakfast. Starting from lunch time, Madi transforms into a delicious hub of Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on local seafood. The restaurant also holds themed nights, including a seafood barbeque and a thali evening celebrating south Indian specialties. For fantastic, fresh sushi plates, head to COMO Maalifushi’s Japanese restaurant Tai, Japanese for “red snapper”, which offers sensational sunset views and occasional nightly visits from a magnificent marble stingray. Last but not least, Thila restaurant offers an easygoing and family-friendly environment. Named after Maldivian submerged reef formations covered with abundant marine life, Thila serves salads, freshly-baked seafood, pizzas and Turkish pide. There is also music, billiards and an open-air pool bar.
With its spectacular views, exciting experiences, rich marine life, and delicious food, COMO Maalifushi is a must-visit, especially in winter when there’s no monsoon season to spoil your holiday. Enjoy your well-deserved rest on this sunny, alluring island of joy, without heavy fur coats, bulky moon boots, or tiresome masks.