**A version of this travel piece appeared in Harper’s Bazaar Interiors Magazine**
Rub your eyes and open them wide. Sand made of sugar, swaying palm trees and a hundred shades of blue? This is the place where those cliches come alive: welcome to the Maldives. True, the colors are so vibrant that it looks like an Instagram filter has been applied directly to real life (Juno, to be specific). But with so many beautiful hotels and beaches around the world, what exactly is it that lures people to the islands? And how do you decide where to stay when every hotel looks postcard-perfect?
You could spend hours doing research and asking friends, or you could save yourself time and choose the name that seems to come out on top everywhere you look: COMO resorts.
The beauty of the COMO offering is that you can easily experience two properties in the Maldives that have different offerings. There’s simply no room to get bored. While COMO Cocoa Island is small, intimate and gives you a Robinson Crusoe, castaway feeling, COMO Maalifushi is a large resort on a much bigger island. You can take a quick seaplane ride straight from one hotel to the other to uncover a different side to the Maldives.
Welcome: COMO Maalifushi
After being greeted with a coconut and friendly smiles on a wooden jetty, we were lead to an airy reception area to begin check-in. It was hard to keep our eyes away from a scene that seems tailor made for Instagram in front of us: a long infinity pool in front of a clean stretch of beach facing the bluest water I have ever seen. A docked blue Dhoni boat rocks gently near the shore, with an array of wooden swings and palm trees all beckoning me to come and strike a pose… I couldn’t resist the siren call of the Maldives…
Because the island is quite big, we can take golf carts to get to our room or we could enjoy the bliss of riding a bicycle to get around. When is the last time you rode a bike with the freedom that children have? There’s a liberating feeling of wearing a flowy dress over a bikini, the sun warming your back as you ride a bicycle along a sandy path in jungle-greenery on your way to the beach.
Truth be told, after having a baby and an extremely busy period at work, a bit of gentle exercise, sunshine and getting away from daily responsibilities revived me in a way that I desperately needed. These simple ways of taking care of myself in a way that I hadn’t in years reminded me of how important it is to take time out every now and then.
A treatment in COMO Maalifushi is almost a spiritual experience.
The main spa area breaks out into spacious, individual overwater villas that can be reached by private wooden jetties.
No matter what type of room you have booked, a trip to the spa a great way to experience a quintessential Maldives overwater villa. Book a couples massage and enjoy having your feet washed in scented, warm water before being led to a massage tables that face floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea.
There is a type of room to cater to every whim at COMO Maalifushi. Families and big groups will feel right at home in a Beach Villa or Suite. These spacious lodgings have wonderful wooden interiors and four poster beds that face the sea. They all come with a private outdoor terrace, grassy garden (a rarity in the Maldives!) and a private stretch of beach.
Even walking to the private beach in the beach villa is photo-worthy:
There are also large Overwater Villas with several rooms that can house big groups, all with a central private infinity pool and dining area. You won’t need to leave your room at all!
Parents will especially appreciate the fantastic Play by COMO kids club, a major drawcard for large families with lots of fun activities to entertain the little ones.
Couples will adore the privacy and majesty of overwater villas made for two. These modern rooms are tastefully decorated in white and wood.
They come with private sundecks and infinity pools that overlook an unobstructed view of the sea. The best part is a private ladder leading down into the sea, where the promise of underwater wonder awaits.
In an area nicknamed ‘The Garden’, a shallow expanse of sea in the middle of a circular row of overwater villas makes for excellent snorkeling that’s even safe for children. Prepare to be in awe of white-and-black striped fish with bright yellow tails passing by to say hello.
Adrenaline lovers will also love that COMO Maalifushi is the only resort in the South Atoll in the Maldives, making for excellent diving. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, sign up to swim with the serene whale sharks at night (don’t forget your underwater camera). During the day, the resort has some of the best breaks in the Maldives ideal for windsurfing and paddleboarding.
All that activity is sure to work up an appetite and the menus at COMO Maalifushi don’t disappoint. For breakfast, try the blueberry hot cakes or get a taste of local culture with a morning curry that will add a bit of zing to your day. The array of fruits alone is mouthwatering.
The salads at Thila, a laid back spot for lunch and dinner, are creative works of art, featuring greenery from a large local garden grown on the island and a mix of ingredients including feta, nuts, watermelon and grapes. Look how beautiful the gardens on the island are, with rows of basil, spinach, bok choy, and plenty of other plants that fit into COMO’s ethos of wellness:
Dinnertime is an affair to look forward to, with fresh seafood barbecues right on the beach. The scent of grilled tiger prawns mixed with the salty sea air will make your mouth water. Make sure to pair a main dish with decadent, triple cooked sweet potato fries.
If you’re in the mood to switch the flip flops for high heels and a dress for a night, book for dinner at Tai, a Japanese restaurant offering reef fish sashimi and dishes like Wagyu beef if you need a change from seafood. Grab a table that overlooks a neighboring, uninhabited, green island and spend the evening chatting underneath a sky full of stars.
For a truly unique experience, kayak out to Lavadhoo, a nearby uninhabited island, where the hotel can prepare a castaway picnic lunch for you. The views will be as awe-inspiring as the fresh food.
These days, learning how to properly relax is not easy. Between deadlines at work, hosting children’s birthday parties and having lunch with the in-laws, winding down means falling asleep on the couch at 9 pm while Netflix episodes play on into the night. A stay at the COMO resorts in the Maldives is a chance to unplug from the demands of daily life. When you return home, you will feel rejuvenated and have a smile that’s even more vibrant than your tan. It will make you appreciate your life with fresh eyes. Because that’s the magic of the Maldives: long after you’re gone, the relaxed attitude lingers.
You’ll need an outfit that pops with color, is chic and yet comfy enough for bike rides, and relaxed and glam at the same time. Lol. Here’s some sartorial inspiration:
1,060 AED – harrods.com
295 AED – topshop.com
475 AED – macys.com
110 AED – macys.com
1,820 AED – neimanmarcus.com
810 AED – neimanmarcus.com
90 AED – belk.com
88 AED – jcpenney.com