Come November, it’s not unusual for far-flung resorts to start flying the Christmas flag in hopes of bringing North Pole cheer to tropical climes (to varying degrees of success, we should add). But on the island of Muravandhoo in the Maldivian Raa Atoll, one stand-out property is shifting the focus of celebrations this year – JOALI.
Don’t you worry, we’re not going all Grinch on you. If you’ve been planning on spending the holidays at JOALI, you’ll be delighted to hear there’ll be plenty of Christmas-themed activities to keep you busy. Between 21st December and 09th January, the Maldives’ first-of-its-kind art resort will be throwing one big holiday extravaganza, hosting both its very own Christmas tree lighting ceremony as well as the unveiling of a bespoke gingerbread house. Even Santa himself is said to be making a stopover at JOALI to make sand angels on the beach and spread holiday cheer in (we’d like to think) a pair of faux fur-trimmed Speedos.
But this being among the Maldives’ most talked-about resorts in recent years, JOALI has curated a more experiential holiday programme to wow guests and celebrate not merely Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but the idea of new beginnings as such: a bespoke range of activities invite holidaymakers to learn novel skills and ring in 2021 with a renewed focus on wellbeing. There are seabob rides, the first-ever JOALI triathlon and private tennis lessons with tennis pro Stefan Mijuskovic for part-time athletes eager to burn off some calories from all the holiday feasting. Beachside archery lessons and ceramic art classes with artist in residence Nataliya Kuleshova will also be available, though the gourmets we are, we can’t think of anything more festive than learning a new recipe or two: luckily, the resort’s chefs will be at hand for tailored sushi rolling and Italian cooking classes, as well as an educational, five-course garden-to-table experience featuring all vegan ingredients – where do we sign up?
In line with the raison d’être of its hotly anticipated sister property JOALI BEING, which is set to open doors this November, physical and mental wellbeing will also play a significant role in the resort’s upcoming celebrations. So much, in fact, guests can look forward to finding complimentary consultations with health guru and devoted yogi Dr. Sohal Shah under their Christmas palm tree. The whole initiative sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holidays, if you ask us: one thing that’s been missing from our lives throughout the pandemic is meaningful travel; the kind that’s about more than simply lying on a beach and eating your way through a mouthwatering menu (although there’s that, too!). For many, a vacation over the festive period will be the first long-haul trip in quite some time, while others will reunite with family members from abroad; either arguably being celebrations in their own right. A journey bursting with new experiences and plenty of ‘together-time’ is just what’s needed after so many months apart.
And, in case you were wondering, JOALI will be throwing one hell of a party to ring in the new year, as well: the ‘Phantasmagoria’ event promises to close off 2021 with fireworks, a traditional ball drop and a sensational feast. If you’re lucky, Santa himself might make a return for the party – we certainly prefer the Indian Ocean to the North Pole in December.
Photography courtesy of JOALI