COMO is a way of life which revolves around a holistic approach to wellness from nutrition to meditation to yoga. Basically COMO is synonymous with a healthier state of being. Executive Edge Leisure Travel Advisor Cate Cave experienced ‘the COMO way’ in the Maldives at two COMO private islands. COMO Cocoa Island and COMO Maalifushi define unparalleled service and a deep commitment to holistic wellness. Each resort caters to different clientele with COMO Maalifushi ideal for family gatherings and COMO Cocoa Island perfect for a couple’s romantic escape.
Q: COMO Maalifushi is the only resort to open in the Maldives’ Thaa Atoll. With such exquisite isolationism in luxury, tell us about the setting of this sublime property in Maldives’ southern archipelago.
The magic began with the smooth seaplane flight from Male. My first glance at COMO Maalifushi was from above. Looking down at this idyllic island from the seaplane gave me a bird’s-eye view of the jungle vegetation, white sand beaches and turquoise waters. One word – breathtaking.
Q: The wellness specialty of COMO lies in the individualized and detailed approach given to each guest about their health requirements and objectives. How is a stay at COMO Maalifushi customised to guests’ preferences?
Each guest can chat with the COMO Shambhala Retreat expert therapist to gain an understanding of what is offered, guiding guests towards a better state of personal wellness. Many Asian-inspired therapies such as Thai, Taksu or Indonesian massage, Indian head massage, relaxation and remedial, reflexology and beauty treatments help mind and body heal. There is also yoga, meditation and core connection instruction, an amazing fitness centre, outdoor yoga pavilion and pool for laps. Packages are available where you can combine yoga or meditation with a massage and various treatments and therapies can also be combined, as discussed with your expert therapist.
Q: COMO Shambhala is renowned for its intuitive and empowering experts, from yoga masters to life coaches to nutritionists to chakra healers. Describe the COMO Shambhala treatments you enjoyed whilst at COMO Maalifushi.
I was lucky enough to experience a 60-min ‘COMO Shambhala Signature Massage’ in one of the 8 open-air pavilions set over the water. I just relaxed and listened to the sounds of waves and birds and the breeze – how rejuvenating! The COMO Shamhala-accredited massage therapists are hand picked by COMO Founder Christina Ong after extensive training.
Q: Nutrition is also valued as an intrinsic part of the holistic experience at COMO properties worldwide showcasing raw, delicious and healthy foods with essential enzymes, vitamins and minerals, which complement energy. Luckily, COMO Founder Christina Ong produced a cookbook for guests to take home which features many of the signature dishes from her hotels in The Pleasures of Eating Well. What were your favorite dishes at COMO Maalifushi?
The food is divine, healthy and so delicious. Even their ‘hot chips’ are healthy! Breakfast was a favorite – fresh fruit and juices, on-site baked bakery items, and choice of regular or COMO Shambala menus. For me, the nut and seed toast with avocado and island- grown tomatoes, and the egg-white omelettes were a standout. But it’s all good. Don’t miss the Maldivian egg curry, whole wheat pumpkin pancakes and stir fried prawn and noodles. Oh, and don’t forget about the fresh fruit smoothies.
Q: Describe the dining venues at COMO Maalifushi – Madi, Tai, Thila Pool & Bar Lounge. Did you have a favorite?
All three restaurants have views and meals to die for. Madi offers a great start to the day with sunrise and breakfast-of-champions, but also triples as a casual lunch and dinner venue with Maldivian, Mediterranean, Indonesian and Thai dishes served. Thila is great for a relaxed round-the-pool lunch, wood-fire pizza, salads, smoothie or fresh juice. And Tai is where you go for an aperitif to watch the sun set on another perfect Maldivian day, before sitting down to the most special Japanese-inspired dinner. Try the sushi, sashimi and wagyu beef – to die for!
Don’t forget you can also order in with 24-hour room service.
Q: COMO Maalifushi has spectacular private dining experiences. Explain a few…
Imagine surprising your loved one with a champagne breakfast for two set on the beach at sunrise, or a romantic picnic lunch on a deserted island or candlelit dinner on a secluded beach… This can all be arranged by the team at COMO Maalifushi, whose attention to detail is bar to none.
Also, enjoy a special event – like the ‘Island BBQ Lunch’ where you are whisked over to a private beach to snorkel right off the edge of the beach, swim or sit in the shallows with a glass of champagne. Or partake in a ‘Middle Eastern Feast’ with a communal table set up on Madi beach with sunset drinks followed by a 3-course dinner before sitting around a cozy beach bonfire.
Q: What are the most incredible features about COMO Maalifushi’s accommodation?
The size and the views… wow! Minimum size starts at 72 sqm for garden rooms, and suites start at 101 sqm for a beach suite or 107 sqm for a water suite. Sunrise or sunset view, your choice!
The overwater villas are spacious at 120 sqm, offering a bedroom with separate dressing area, separate bathroom with double sinks, sunken bathtub and indoor and outdoor showers, large lounge area with sufficient space for two kids to share a sofa bed, and a private deck, sala, pool and steps leading down to the ocean for a quick dip.
You don’t really have to leave your villa but there’s so much more to do on this island, it would be a shame not to explore and enjoy all the facilities and activities. To name but a few.. surfing, diving, snorkelling, dolphin, whale shark and turtle watching, fishing, complimentary rentals of catamarans, stand up boards, snorkelling equipment, kayaks, windsurfers, kids activities and learning centre, etc.
COMO Cocoa Island
Q: Taking the sea plane from one property to the next, how was the view from the air?
Spectacular! The colours need to be seen to be believed as your photos will never do justice to the many colours of the islands, beaches and atolls. And what a fun way to get around.
Q: Tell the truth, at COMO Cocoa Island, the ultimate romantic place in the world, didn’t you wish your husband was with you?
Yes, very couples-oriented resort and very romantic. But also a lovely place for a small group of friends to just chill out and enjoy the location.
It’s a very low-key island – Robinson Caruso barefoot luxury – so just chill, relax and forget about everything. It’s the perfect place to do a bit of something or a lot of nothing.
Q: With only 33 all overwater suites and villas, you can slip right into the turquoise lagoon to explore the house reef right from your villa. How was the snorkeling right off the villa?
Right off the back deck, down four steps and slide into the gorgeous warm water to snorkel and view coral and fish.. and small and harmless reef sharks and sting rays!
Q: Describe the Overwater Suites.
Here they are called ‘Dhoni’s’ (traditional curved wooden fishing boats).. so cute! Each Dhoni is made from New Zealand pine with Kajan thatched roofs. I stayed in a Loft Dhoni, so lounge room and large bathroom were on the ground level and stairs up to the king size bed and small powder room in the loft which overlooks the lounge with its huge floor to ceiling windows out to the reef waters.
Q: Tell us about your yoga sessions.
Yoga was offered in a tree-house style pavilion, overlooking tree tops with peaks of white sand and turquoise waters. So peaceful.
Wellness options are still plentiful – fitness centre, pool, yoga and pilates sessions, and COMO Shambhala Retreat with Asian-based therapies and treatments and body and facial care. Unique features at COMO Cocoa Island are the hydrotherapy heated pool and visiting wellness experts and practitioners.
Q: Was it the best seafood BBQ of your life at Ufaa, COMO Cocoa Island’s fine dining venue?
BBQ night was fit for a king! First up, cocktails on the sand outside of Faru Bar where all guests could mingle together and meet the General Manager Benjamin and his team, followed by the most amazing seafood BBQ featuring crayfish, prawns, fish, fresh oysters, Kingfish ceviche, lobster cocktails, salads, greens and then yummy desserts and cheeses plus divine wine.
Ufaa is the main restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a regular healthy menu and COMO Shambhala menu.
Q: Faru Bar is COMO Cocoa Island’s chilled, foot-in-the-sand resort bar serving up refreshing cocktails, fine wines, classic cigars and light snacks. What was your drink of choice as you watched the sunset on your final evening in the Maldives?
Experts in the art of cocktail making, my barman was very inventive, and created a tropical passionfruit version of my go-to cocktail, the Margherita. So delicious!
Q: After experiencing both properties, do you recommend doing a combined stay at both?
Yes! Combining the activeness of COMO Maalifushi with the quieter, undisturbed tranquility of COMO Cocoa Island is the perfect pairing for an amazing COMO Maldivian getaway.