Best of the Maldives: Private Spa – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - private spa outside

When we first started visiting the Maldives, most resorts didn’t have spas and a few had resident massage therapists on contract who would do a treatment on a table tucked in some makeshift area in the inner part of the island. Eventually, the resorts matured to the point where pretty much every one had a dedicated spa facility. As the resorts grew increasingly luxurious, new spacious residences often featured spaces where guests could get treatments in the comfort of their own villa. But for those who want that much more privacy for their treatments (even from their own fellow guests), JA Manafaru’s Royal Island Suite (which is more like a compound than a villa) includes its very own spa building. The personal spa facility includes a steam room, sauna and massage treatment room.

JA Manafaru - private spa 2

Best of the Maldives: Perimenopause/Menopause Retreat – Amilla

Amilla - Menopause Retreat

Today is June’s New Moon and it fall right in the middle of Amilla’s newly introduced “moon” of it own. There are “honeymoons” for starting the chapter of your life with your “honey”, “babymoons” for starting the family one, and now Amilla has introduced the first ever Maldives “menomoon” for ladies embarking on that “The Big Change”. Which is an especially apt name as the root “meno-“ in “menopause” comes from the Greek word “menos” meaning “month”, and the word “month” comes from the Old Norse word “menon” meaning “moon” (which is itself, coincidentally, “meno”). So really, it is a “moonmoon”.

And if my experience with Lori going through that “certain age” is any indication, then if there is ever a time a women could use an idyllic retreat, it is then.

Amilla describes:

  • “Even though it is a natural stage in life, many women find it daunting to navigate changes in their hormones during perimenopause and menopause, and all that comes with it – hot flushes, mood swings, lack of sleep, brain fog, weight gain around the middle, anxiety and dwindling confidence. But help is at hand! Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences is the first resort in the Maldives (and one of just a handful of resorts around the world) to have created a women’s perimenopause and menopause retreat…The three Perimenopause/Menopause Retreats at Amilla Maldives Resort will run between June 23rd to July 7th, 2022. It will be led by renowned naturopath and wellness coach, Claire O’Sullivan. The five-day journey has been developed to give women the tools they need to adapt to the changes in their bodies in a healthy and positive way, enabling them to tune into themselves rather than fight nature. With these tools, they will address physical, emotional and lifestyle issues, improving their habits and renewing their energy.”

  

Best of the Maldives: MediSpa – Heritance Aarah

Arrah - medispa 2

The pandemic COVID testing has introduced at least medical testing procedures to most resorts, but Heritance Aarah has extended medical grade procedures to its spa menus with an innovative range of diagnostics (see photo at bottom) and treatments.

A few examples include:

  • “Aesthetics – State of the art diagnostic scanning to pinpoint problems, allowing effective prescription of remedial medical aesthetic treatments. Reverse signs of ageing, reduce appearance of fine lines and resolve pigmentation problems. When you want to feel younger than the mirror is telling you, we have the solution.”
  • “Medical Assessment – Unique predictive software provides the most comprehensive medical assessments test to detect current health conditions and evaluates future disease risk to drive prevention that will increase your health span, as well as your lifespan.”

Other procedures include “nanoneedling” and “microneedling” for facials as well as “HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound)” for skin conditioning (“HIFU” is indeed a medical technique and in one of my previous day jobs heading up a med-tech company, we worked with HIFU for prostate cancer ablation).

The “Non-Surgical Facelift and Contouring” is also distinguished as possibly being the most expensive spa treatment available in the Maldives:

  • Upper Face Lift 60 min – $ 300.00
  • Double Chin Reduction 60 mins – $ 500.00
  • Mid Face Lift 90 mins – $ 800.00
  • Full Face Lift 120 mins – $1000.00
  • Full Face and Neck Lift 150 mins – $1500.00

Aarah is certainly putting the “treatment” into spa treatments.

Arrah - medicspa

Best of the Maldives: Highest Meditation Area – Soneva Jani

While the Maldives is renowned for its flatness, when a bit of elevation does poke its head into the air, the vistas are extra dramatic. Especially, with the destination’s signature tapestry of blues mottling the tranquil ocean below. Soneva Jani’s Soneva Soul Yoga Champa is perched above the palm tree canopy proving a breath-taking view for taking your Ujjayi breathes. Just the perfect place to channel your “yogi sitting on top of a mountain” spirit.

DiscoverSoneva’s Instagram feed has also shared its own panorama of this striking vista.

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A post shared by AKSHAM (@ishotmaldives)

Best of the Maldives: Wellness Concierge – Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi

Waldorf Ithaafushi - wellness concierge

One of Maldives Complete’s initial objectives was to help people sort through the myriad resort options. Options which have only expanded with the resort growth and the profusion of diverse room types. It’s almost like Maldives Complete is a “resort concierge” (or “room concierge”). When we first started visiting the destination in the 90s, spas were an anomaly, but now they are standard fare. And spas at the luxury properties have as many bewildering choice of treatments as the Maldives has resorts. So Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi has introduced its own “Wellness Concierge”:

  • “Aqua Wellness Centre, featuring a brand-new Hydrotherapy Pool, Maldives first-ever wellness concierge as well as unique spa treatments, all surrounded by a lush botanical garden facing the Indian Ocean. The brand new 7,735 square-foot elaborate Aqua Wellness Centre features a custom-built Hydrotherapy Pool, ice fountain, steam room and sauna. Set atop the crystal Maldivian waters, the 2,906 square-foot outdoor pool is designed in zones, where each station of the pool targets a different part of the body. The zones – which include jet bath, air jets, shower jets, and massage lounger.”

Best of the Maldives: Over-Water Beauty Therapy – Jumeirah Maldives

LUX North Male Atoll - overwater Beauty

In the early years, the “spa” was relegated to some small rooms in sequestered in the middle of the island. With the rise of wellness tourism, resorts brought the spas front and centre to the main stage of the destination – over water. Now, an over-water spa common fare among the five-star Maldives properties. And yet, within the spas themselves, the massages are the main event and most of the treatments rooms are designed and reserved for the treatments. The spas will often feature beauty treatments – eg. facials, manicures, pedicures – but they are most often found near the entrance with a limited ocean view. But, the Jumeirah Maldives spa gives the aestheticians the same pride of place as the masseuses with an over-water room with floor-to-ceiling windows on 3 sides. Good looking out for those getting their looks good.

I’ve realized with this post that I need an “Over Water” tag for all those over water treats (but keeping the overwater villa features separate).

 

Best of the Maldives: Water Villa Sauna – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - water villa sauna view

I’d actually been on the lookout for something like this my latest “Not Yet Seen” draft when I came upon an outdoor sauna pod doing Christmas shopping. Not a sauna, but a steam bath at Soneva Jani with a bonus twist of being perched on the deck of one of their water villas. The room was sensibly designed with two large floor-to-ceiling walls facing the turquoise vista of the lagoon (I didn’t get to try it out to see how much the steamed glass affected the view). Still, I love the idea of relaxing in the soothing heat coming from something other than rays of sunshine while still taking in the outdoor scenery (as opposed to being sequestered away in some nook of a spa facility).

Steamy room with a view!

Soneva Jani - water vill sauna

Best of the Maldives: Aesthetician – Vakkaru

Vakkaru - spa aesthetician

Many top Maldivian resort spas host visiting yoga instructors and others who run special classes, but visiting practitioners are less common and I’ve not yet come across a resident aesthetician like Vakkaru’s Merana Spa is featuring:

  • “Vakkaru Maldives welcomed UK-based aesthetic practitioner Daisy Whitear to the resort for a short-term beauty residency. With over 30 years of experience within the medical aesthetic and beauty industry, the founder of Wilbury Clinic has a lifelong professional mission to help people feel beautiful both inside and out.”

You’ve come all this way for the perfect selfie backdrop so it makes sense to have yourself just as striking. Why use Instagram filters when you can refresh the real thing?

Best of the Maldives: Spa Alchemy – Amilla

Amilla - alchemy bar 1

For a scent that is not just reminiscent of the Maldives experience, but evokes your Maldives experience, Amilla’s Javvu spa features its own “Alchemy Bar”. There you can concoct your own magic potions to conjure up the golden moments from your visit. You are guided by a recipe book that shares its properties and other information about it (see sheet on “Moringa” below). Many of the ingredients are grown right on the island.

Travel Trade Maldives featured an interview with Spa and Wellness Manager, Laura Pagano, who developed the concept:

  • “It’s an interactive laboratory where we teach our guests to make their beauty potions and bath products, so it brings a special touch to their experience. During lockdown, the first thing we made was a bath sachet from herbs like lemongrass and neem growing on the island, then we started making our own sea-salt. Then from the dried herbs we realised we could make powders. From there realised can make face masks, teas and more – the possibilities are endless. There were only seven of us ladies working on the island, so we used to have our own girls’ nights with our own homemade face masks, moisturisers, hair masks etc. We even made our own deodorant because we were running out of it in the shop! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used, I swear. I’ve been using it since my garden work and it really works, nobody was running away from me!”

  Amilla - alchemy bar 3

Amilla - alchemy bar 2

Amilla - alchemy bar 5

Amilla - alchemy bar 4

Best of the Maldives: Maldives Inspired Beauty Range – LUX North Male Atoll

LUX North Male - Maldives spa range

The sense of smell is supposed to be the most evocative of all our senses for memory and emotion. The Maldives itself will provide an olfactory smorgasbord from salty sea breeze to tropical coconutty delights. LUX North Male sought to distil and bottle these scent sensations by enlisting “world renowned aromatherapist” Shirley Page to develop a special range of essential oils for the resort. Page had a residency at LUX for three months where she refined the collection testing the oils for the Maldives conditions and alignment with feel. The end results are provided to all guests in their rooms. Also, the spa offers a range of signature treatments using these oils perfumed with the essence of the Maldives.