A disappointment, but Joali prepared for it: sumptuous interiors, evoking rose gold and emerald green, a bed that generated naps, a spa that offered a timely massage “inner strength and resilience”, which gave the impression of being unrolled like a sheet of cookie dough. There is no shortage of taste delights: sushi and pasta designed by Michelin-starred chefs, biryani as good as its counterparts on the subcontinent, Turkish breakfast buffet with an olive bar that rivals Whole Foods. But I always came back to a simple, creamy and tangy reef fish curry, which I had ordered three days in a row before asking for the recipe.

Then there were the lessons. Yoga and HIIT, yes, but also: gin tasting, wine tasting, sake tasting. We signed up for the last three and in doing so we befriended the resort’s head sommelier, Gandip Khadka, and his business partner, Tushar Patil, who invited us to the most exclusive meeting place in the property: the staff bar, hidden behind a grove of palm trees. trees. As in Lux and the majority of resorts in the Maldives, the staff members live on the island with the guests, and this is on our last night, sipping gin and tonic while Bruno Mars played the speakers , that we were able to engage in the kind of conviviality that travel offers, and that the pandemic has prevented. We shared Netflix’s recommendations with a bartender from Costa Rica, discussed Dogecoin with a server from the Philippines. “Pfizer or Moderna? “” AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson? Everyone had an opinion, a story about the side effects, the perplexity over which vaccines resist.

We met a German couple, travel companions who were on their fourth trip to the Maldives and had been roaming the islands for weeks. “Like maybe everyone, after last year I wanted total relaxation, a way to clear my mind of all the negative news,” said Teresa Wendrich, who works in the airport’s marketing department. Munich International. “The Maldives is the place where I feel most alive, where I can say thank you to my soul and to my body.”

Towards the end of our stay, a friend texted me asking if the Maldives “was worth a million hours to fly” “even if it’s actually just a beach”. You can’t blame the uninitiated for having that impression (I certainly did). Not even our departure from Joali – which, due to the weather, meant taking a speedboat to a wobbling barge like a stationary piece on “American Ninja Warriors” and trying to stand while stepping on it to board. a seaplane – might cloud my enthusiasm for the Maldives. In the air, once the clouds cleared, the islands below glowed like geodes, a last dose of sensory overload.

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