The W Maldives serves up its healthy offerings with a side dish of chic brunch vibes, making it a fun, sun-dappled stop for detoxing, retoxing and repeating.
Yoga classes at hotels – even high-end, fitness-focused hotels – tend to be disappointing when compared with the many incredible studios in the UAE. I’ve had some real disasters. At one, the instructor kept throwing terrified glances my way while whispering the moves. We were on a windy mountaintop and I heard nothing. At another, the instructor had us lie down quite quickly into savasana, and then just stay there, like one giant nap hour. But W Maldives, to put it simply, does yoga right.
Set amid the postcard-perfect blue waters and white sands of the Maldives, with an incredible house reef of colorful coral and hammocks nestled between heavy palms, W Maldives is certainly serene enough for a wellness retreat. But it’s not just all detox and green juices. True to the brand, W Maldives embraces a whole “detox, retox, repeat” culture – just in a relaxed island-vibe fashion. For someone like me, who doesn’t really party but enjoys live DJs once the sun sets (W has the only live-in DJ in the Maldives), it was perfect.
As mentioned before, fitness classes here are a worthy pursuit, not a schedule-filler. The yoga, which is done on a pier bathed by the rays of each sunrise, is challenging enough to get your heart rate up while still being accessible to beginners. The beach boxing classes had guests dripping in sweat. There are daily morning runs and plenty of bookable one-on-one experiences. My only complaint would be the gym which, while functional, was pretty small and rammed full of equipment. At just 77 rooms, W Maldives is walkable and pleasantly intimate.
Most mornings, I chose to work out in my room. Or, more specifically, outside of it, on my own balcony that went straight out into the sea. Here I could dip into my private plunge pool or lounge on my own hammock floating over the water. Not all rooms were designed over water; some lead directly to the beach and have more of a treehouse feel but in general the design is light and airy, with thatched roofs, white linens and bright blue accents.
Food was customizable but easily healthy. Breakfast is focused on detoxing, with chatty staff serving up yogurt bowls and shots of ginger juice. For lunch, there were antioxidant salads made with goji berries and matcha dressing, or fish steamed in the traditional Sri Lankan way served with fresh vegetables. Dinner was slightly more glamorous, with the romantic steakhouse vibe of Fire, or the fresh all-you-can-eat sushi and sashimi offering at Fish.
When not swimming around the property’s own incredible coral reef (one of the few remaining that I’ve seen in the Maldives) or jogging along its endless beaches, I visited the spa. More than 65 square meters of indoor and outdoor space draw on dhows for inspiration. There’s fresh fruit to start and sorbet after, with incredible (if expensive) massages and facials in between.
All of this – food, spa, rooms, staff – comes with a hefty dose of the W’s signature chilled trendiness. Relaxed lounge music whispered from the overwater walkways as I strolled along. Tiny virgin “gin and tonic” cans are scattered at complimentary stations around the island. Guests linger around the pool bar and mingle with each other and the staff are witty and knowledgeable.
A wellness escape here will set you back a hefty sum, as rooms start at around Dh4,000 per night, plus flights to Malé (followed by a 45-minute seaplane to the property). But for a special occasion health retreat, with a touch of retoxing, this gorgeous venue might be just the thing.
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer