THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES ON EARTH LIKE THE MALDIVES, WHERE VIEWED FROM ABOVE, THE ISLANDS ARE DOTTED BELOW LIKE PERFECT LITTLE INK DROPLETS SPREADING OUT FROM THE CLEAREST TURQUOISE THROUGH A RAINBOW OF FLAWLESS BLUES. THIS IS THE ULTIMATE ESCAPE TO PARADISE AND AMIDST THIS PERFECTION LAYS COCOA ISLAND, A SHINING SAPPHIRE IN THE COMO HOTELS AND RESORTS CROWN.
Located on South Male Atoll, the island is a short boat ride from the airport and offers 33 sublime suites and villas fanned out over the aquamarine water beneath, making a dip into azure a luxurious routine any time. Displaying the best of tropical aqua architecture, Cocoa Island has a selection of suites that surpass even the highest standards of the Maldives. Boasting the eminent COMO Shambhala wellness retreat, a hydrotherapy and infinity pool stretch to the sea. A world-class restaurant, specialising in raw cuisine, is nirvana within an idyllic location, customised to refresh the senses.
The Dhoni Suites utilise the classic silhouette of local fishing boats called dhonis. From the outside they are exact replicas of the original and charming craft, leaving you to wonder if you are in a resort or sailing the Indian Ocean. These fishing boats have been used for centuries by Maldivian fisherman and have lanteen sails resembling the romantic Arabian dhow boats. Pulling on the rich history and symbiotic relationship between sea and man in the Maldives, all the rooms boast full-length windows blending the barriers between inside space, sea and sky seamlessly. Clean lines and interiors provide a modern balance to the outside aesthetic, featuring an intimate space for couples or the addition of lofts for families. All rooms come with flat screens, Wi-Fi, espresso machines, and iPod docking, but this may just be the ideal place to turn technology off.
As well as its delightfully different dhonis, the Maldives also has a culture all its own, reflecting upon the influences of historic trading routes from the Middle- and Far-East that have shaped this archipelago of immaculate islands. History here is recorded as far back as the ancient Greeks who thought they had discovered Atlantis; indeed you might believe that as well after spending a week in this utopia. The language Dhivehi is a dialect shaped as intricately as its history and although the main religion is now Islam, it has gone through Buddhist and pagan periods that still influence islanders today. This creates an interesting mix of people, traditions and friendly faces to encounter.
The ultimate in exclusive escapism has to be the signature COMO villas that are marine mansions suspended in their sophistication above spotless sand and sea. These two-bedroom villas again draw from the traditional sailing culture in design and harness the natural gifts of their pristine position. Bedrooms are connected by a living and dining room with vast outdoor and indoor living areas, serviced by private butlers and approached by an exclusive jetty; this is the ultimate in castaway chic.
The Maldives is obviously famous for being one of the premier snorkelling and diving destinations in the world. It is hard not to be astounded by the flamboyant fish that envelop you even mere metres from the beach, or observed from your terrace. For more experienced divers there is an underwater world just under the shimmering surface. Fish come in every size and colour, elegant manta rays glide past, turtles, reef sharks, octopi and moray eels intermingle and thrive in what is one of the greatest natural wonders in existence. Enjoy all this natural beauty just by snorkelling off the house reef or take a sunset fishing trip and allow yourself to dive into the deep mysterious indigo. The shallow lagoon is the perfect place for scuba beginners or learners and as all diving in the Maldives is drift diving, it is suitable for all levels and ages.
A signature of COMO is their dedication, not only to some of the most sophisticated destinations in the world, but also to wellbeing that is intrinsic to their ethos. Complimentary yoga classes are a balancing and blissful way to start or end the day. There is also tutelage in the pranayama meditation techniques, or for a truly therapeutic and pampering experience head over to the minimally magnificent spa. Amongst the treatments on offer is a range of massages, such as hot stone and pre–natal, facials use the in-house PURIFY range of products along with tailor made Ayurveda treatments. Ayurveda originates in Kerala on the southern most tip of India, close to the Maldivian archipelago and its influences have been felt here for centuries. People are divided into having one of the three humours or dosha – pitta, vata or kaptha and can be treated according to their body type.
To truly take advantage of the vast array of intoxicating treatments, it is worth booking a day of pure heaven and indulgence. You can choose from one of the ‘Wellness Paths – Purification, Relaxation, Rejuvenation and Restoration’. The Purification Path uses Ayurvedic techniques suited to you and starts with massage, scrub and then the Shirodhara treatment, which involves a continuous stream of warm oil being poured on the forehead. This promotes an intense feeling of wellbeing and melts away the stress and strains that can plague the mind. Followed up by a facial, it is designed to detoxify by releasing excess energy and stress. Top this off with a plunge in one of the few hydrotherapy pools in the Maldives for a day of exotic equilibrium.
The wellness theme flows through to the Uufaa Restaurant that focuses on the intricacies of South Indian cuisine with a menu that incorporates flavour sensations from other Asian and Mediterranean shores. Choose from melded healthy delicacies such as Cucumber and Pineapple Gazpacho or Steamed Grouper with a Fragrant Broth.
As would be expected from this paradigm of perfection, the private dining experience can be arranged to suit your perfect desert island fantasy. A Sandbank Dinner can be served on a pristine blanket of soft sand accompanied by a canopy of sultry shining stars. Complemented by a carefully crafted five–course gourmet meal and champagne, you are served by a butler in the most intimate and romantic setting imaginable. Alternatively if you are accompanied by your little tearaways, then castaway picnics and fishing cruises may be in order for the day, any daydream island desires can be conjured up by the expert team.
The Maldives is still held up as one of the most desirable destinations on the planet due the perfection and pristineness of the amazing twenty-six atolls that make up this island nation. COMO Cocoa Island has set a standard as the best in a place where exceptional realities are created everyday.