Mindful travelers have evolved past the standard wellness experiences and have started seeking a holistic approach to wellness. Holidays are no longer about over-indulgence and excesses. Coco Bodu Hithi island resort, a 40-minute boat ride from Male airport, boasts of archetypical Maldives style – thatched villas on land and water, surrounded by thick stands of coconut palms and lush foliage nestled on the white-sand beach overlooking the azure blue waters. Viki Shah visits this paradise for a wellness getaway and comes back with an empty cup. As Bruce Lee says: “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”
On a clear sunny day, the flight lands at Velana International airport, Male and once you clear immigration, you are greeted by the smiling staff from Coco resorts who escort you to a speed boat for your ride to the island. Within minutes you set sail on the pristine blue waters sparkling in emerald and turquoise colours and you begin to feel a sense of calm. You are welcomed at the jetty by the friendly Guest Relations Officer Cigdem, who is an absolute delight, I later discover. She ushers us through the check-in formalities in a jiffy and we are off in a buggy to explore the lush green island set amidst 50 shades of blue. She points out the various facilities that include the boutique, the Marine Biology Centre, the water sports centre and the turtle rehabilitation centre and the beautifully located spa set in a corner on the ocean.
The entire setting seems to be an embodiment of their philosophy of relaxation, combined with a deeply calming stay at the private island resort. You can walk or take a buggy through the paths under a lush canopy of greenery to get to all parts of the island. The philosophy draws from the surroundings, with facilities, activities and pavilions that combine natural wood, and Kajan thatched roofs.
STAYING AT COCO BODU HITHI
You have a choice of four villas; the Coco Residences, the Escape Water Villas, Water Villas and the Island Villas, all boasting of rustic chic and smart luxury. Peacefully secluded yet close to the island, the lavish Coco Residences are built on stilts over the water and located at the tip of the island, giving you a definitive feeling of solitude as you recharge and refresh. Tastefully designed with the same tropical plantation look of the resort itself, each villa is expansive and comfortable, featuring high ceilings and large windows that provide ample of natural light. There is a separate living room with all amenities that you may need, bedroom with a king-sized bed, a large dressing area and bathroom with a double bath leading out on to the patio overlooking the sea, individual basins and indoor and outdoor showers. All bath products and soaps are vegan, organic and chemical-free. The alfresco terrace area boasts of a four-poster day bed, sun loungers, dining area and your own private infinity plunge pool, and a split-level platform with steps leading into the lagoon. All the doors lead to the ocean! You can get up in the morning and go snorkelling in the clear blue waters and discover a garden teeming with marine life and colourful fish.
The sizable Island Villas are artfully designed retreats that combine the best of Maldivian architecture with the latest in personal luxury. Open plan, yet welcoming, each villa includes a lavish bathing area with a large central tub, relaxing master bedroom with comfortable kingsized bed and a sunken living area. There are two outdoor spaces where you can relax and unwind.
The beach front terrace overlooks the stunning crystal-clear ocean while your private garden is the ideal way to experience sunshine filled days with sun loungers, day bed, swimming pool and outdoor shower. Suspended on stilts above the lagoon, the deluxe Escape Water Villas and the cozy Water Villas with decked terraces reflect the vastness of the ocean with the intimacy of an island hideaway. A wooden deck walkway leads you into a space that is light, airy and luxurious with screen separated spaces. The bathing area includes an indulgently deep designer bathtub. The master bedroom offers every comfort with a large kingsized bed and unforgettable views of the Indian Ocean.
FOOD IS A CELEBRATION AT COCO BODU HITHI
Gratification of body and mind is the main aim here. Five wellappointed restaurants and two bars boast of an extensive and carefully curated local menu along with global favourites to cater to all palates. From fine dining and healthy eating to beach barbecues, there’s something different for you to discover every night. Air is home to a diverse breakfast buffet and themed dinner with live cooking stations. The chefs are always ready to cook up your favourites with an eager smile! Aqua is a fine-dining restaurant with a seafood speciality, showcasing the fragrant delicacy of Thai and South East Asian flavours, in a seasonal menu focused on the day’s local seafood catch. Open for dinner only, it has a characteristically intimate feel. Sitting over the water, it offers spectacular views as well as extraordinary food and service. Simplicity, subtlety, and taste are the hallmarks of Japanese cooking at Tsuki, with every plate taking up this mantle and celebrating the seafood, rice, soya and vegetable bounty of nature. Refined yet unassuming, elegant and satisfying and inherently healthy, the chefs prepare Japanese soups, salads, tempura, sashimi, sushi, hot dishes and desserts.
Latitude is a cocktail lover’s dream and the Wine Loft an oenophile’s heaven. And if you simply do not want to leave the sanctuary of your villa, you can select from an In-villa menu with a wide range of food and drinks, including dishes perfect for little ones. Latitude bar’s attractive seating allows you to take in the magnificent ocean as you sip your almond milk latte. The menu features classics, Coco creations and inventive mocktails. Stars is the harmonious hideaway for that in-between break and is a part restaurant part bar, on the east side of the island standing over the lagoon, within the Coco Residences enclave. Eating the fresh local food reminds us of the fact that how important it is to take care of our bodies and nourish ourselves with wholesome foods. There’s no better feeling than eating foods that nourish your body and leave you feeling energetic and full of life!
WELLNESS AT COCO BODU HITHI
We all know that summer makes us sluggish, allowing for certain habits, foods and routines not serving our mental and physical wellbeing, to sneak in, leaving us feeling overindulged and sluggish. The summer wellness programme at Coco Bodu Hithi allows you to make a fresh start, support healthier choices, and embrace simple lifestyle tools to incorporate into your regular days; a time to refocus and get in a self-care groove as we transition into a new season. The well-curated programme with guest yogis and a tai chi master is all about taking time to relax, unwind, and getting that reboot in your fast-paced life. We go for an invigorating sunset yoga session with Cat Meffan, global yoga teacher, blogger, and YouTuber, who radiates positivity and vibrant energy from every pore; just what we need! Cat believes in the movement and exploration of the body. A creative and dynamic vinyasa yoga session with her, with an emphasis on connecting your mind, body, and soul while moving fluidly on the mat, at the beautiful yoga pavilion over the gently lolling waters of the sea, leaves you completely relaxed.
Harnessing energy from the setting sun and the rhythmic waves of the ocean, Cat leads some gentle asanas, stretches and balancing poses using guided breathwork. Cat’s classes are lively and energetic, and she actually cues you to smile during the sequence, leaving you feeling Calm, yet energised after the session. There are some people in the world who exude passion and positive energy and you can feel the love they put into their work. Cat is one of them. “Personally I would say, even taking a day is so rare, I think we live in this world where we are going from one thing to the next ; if it’s not a work commitment it’s a social commitment or it’s a family commitment or children or whatever and then we go on a holiday. And during holidays we kind of take it to an excess, indulging in a huge amount of food, alcohol and staying up late. I understand that when you don’t get those things in day to day life you crave for them but actually what your body is craving is real rest and that kind of restorative time.
I think even taking a day, 2 days, 3 days is so beneficial to the mind and especially in a place where you can be in nature! If I’m back in the UK I’ll go to Wales, go down to the sea and the beach; just sit by the sea for a few days and just be with nature, go walking, go hiking. The beauty of coming somewhere like this is that it is all kind of done for you, you just need to arrive and there are classes and sessions and spa treatments all packaged to rejuvenate you.
We cannot expect our bodies and mind to keep going at the pace that we constantly work at,” says Cat. The other sessions include Tai chi sessions with Master Shanshan He; a mind-body practice, that helps to improve strength, balance, and breathing. Strength training, mindful yoga are the core principles of the programme led by local yogi Shifana Mufeed.
The wellness programme also includes activities like gymming, diving, snorkeling and water sports for those seeking to challenge themselves. Snorkeling is not tough on the body and is known to have immense health benefits like improved breathing, joint mobility, and a connection to nature; very good for people who suffer from anxiety disorders and ADHD. The crystal-clear azure blue waters have a destressing and calming effect on us!
The restaurants boast of an extensive array of healthy wellness preparations with options for vegetarian and vegan allowing you a complete detox for the days you are there, if you choose to!
BALANCE IS THE MAINSTAY AT THE COCO SPA
Eight rooms, each named after parts of the coconut palm, offer the perfect haven in which to lose the world outside and reconnect with your body and mind. A menu of deeply curative treatments inspired by ancient Indonesian, Thai and Indian techniques and enhanced by natural, carefully sourced products are on offer. You will find yourself relax in the expert hands of skilled masseurs, taking their signature ritual, Journey to the Maldives. This 110-minute ritual as explained by the Spa Supervisor Zion, begins with a foot ritual followed by the signature massage with coconut oil, rekindling senses and allowing for complete relaxation and healing. We live in an increasingly competitive society which is compelling us to find ways to ‘balance’ our energy. The Maldivian journey does just that! The massage is followed by an invigorating scrub made from fresh grated coconut and coconut milk dusted with dry coconut powder, leaving the skin shiny and glowing. You can also choose to have a body wrap made from local Maldivian spices wrapping you in a cocoon of wellness. A quick shower with water to remove the residue and I am led into a tub filled with a warm milk bath.
Just what Cleopatra advised! A refreshing soak while sipping on fresh coconut water overlooking the gently lolling waters of the lagoon lulls you into a dreamlike state. You leave the place feeling energized and radiant. Other treatments on offer include therapies using a blend of island spices and traditional techniques using seashells and hot stones and marine products. Addon treatments at the spa are available to address specific concerns like back pain, knee pain etc. The nurturing spa treatments remind us of a healthier, more balanced way to live. Each room at the Spa offers a serene spot in which to relax after treatments and let the feeling of being pampered linger longer. Guests are free to indulge in the Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, sauna, steam room, sunbeds, boutique and the fitness center.
Panoramic lagoon views and state-of-theart amenities make working out a pleasure.
The staff are all incredibly friendly, from the expressive and engaging Guest Relations Officer Cigdem with her lively anecdotes, to the smiling and helpful Zawhu who offers room service or the ever cooperative Rajmani who organizes whatever you need, in a jiffy, they are all there to serve you with a smile!
YOGA WITH CAT MEFFAN
MY COCO MOMENTS:
It’s funny how sometimes you can find things in places you don’t expect. As extravagant and appealing as the Maldives can be, I discovered a humbling and eyeopening experience on the special island of Coco Bodu Hithi. You definitely experience luxury and beautiful beaches, but what I experienced was much more. Coco Bodu Hithi is the embodiment of a philosophy for healthy living, combined with a deeply relaxing stay at a private island resort. I feel revived and refreshed during my stay amidst the crystal blue waters of the paradise isle. A relaxing 4 days in the sun kissed magical island with yoga, meditation and many more wellness activities were like unwinding into nirvana! The fabulous team at Coco Bodu Hithi has designed a retreat that is useful, inspirational and insightful, to help guests make effective and powerful lifestyle changes. Combining the relaxing nature of the Maldives, with wellness experts from around the world, the retreat is the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to kick-start a lifestyle change during their stay. The Summer Wellness Retreat will leave you feeling rested and recharged, with plenty of time to enjoy everything else the resort has to offer.
I came to the Maldives expecting to find luxury and leisure, but I found much more. I found a new sense of self. I found connection with other beings. And I found a place on earth that sprinkled a little magic into my life!
VISIT cococollection.com | TO BOOK YOU SUMMER WELLNESS GETAWAY TODAY!