News Article

In Conversation with COMO Maldives

18 December 2023

Wellness the order of the day at Como in the Maldives

A cursory flick through the COMO website and a couple of things are plain to see. The group’s 19 hotels and resorts across the globe ooze an understated elegance and style, everywhere from the handsome townhouse of COMO The Halkin in London to the sprawling 12th century palazzo nestled in the Tuscan hills. They also place a healthy premium on their guests’ wellbeing, with a litany of stories, pictures, and experiences that speak to their ideal that these are more than just places to stay.

It was with that ethos in mind that we sat down with a handful of employees from the group’s Maldives hotels: COMO Cocoa Island and COMO Maalifushi. Each is very much in keeping with the brand but also – as Assistant Director of Sales for the Maldives, Josefine Norrman, is quick to point out – imbued with its own identity. Whereas Maalifushi is the bigger, perhaps more vibrant and family-orientated private island resort, Cocoa trades on a personalised, intimate atmosphere.

That’s something to which Kadek, a chef at Cocoa, can attest. There’s no booking system at the hotel’s restaurant, with tables instead allocated based on what guests have enjoyed previously. That guest preference then guides the whole service ethos, as Kadek runs us through how restaurant staff go about their business. They record exactly how people like to eat, down to details as fine as olive or olive-less bread, and they tailor their service accordingly. The dinner menu rotates daily, meaning that no two days are the same, and there’s space, too, for speciality set menus on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

It’s the Thursday Japanese style barbecues that really take our fancy, though, as Kadek describes an evening where guests cook their own meat and local seafood over a central beach grill; an experience available to book personally as well.

He’s keen to stress, too, that Cocoa Island caters to every taste out there, with a Signature COMO menu focussed more on vegetarian and wellness influences, as well as a healthy dose of the Sri Lankan and Southern Indian influences that give Maldivian cuisine its unique flavour profile.

It’s that word again – wellness – that defines the hotels’ spa experience: COMO Shambala. Fadzil, a manager at Cocoa Island’s spa, lights up when talking about the effects that he and his team have had on guests in the past. A massage or treatment, he tells us, is so much more than an hour or so of luxurious pampering. Fadzil takes immense pride in the long-term emotional and physical benefits of their wellness programme, citing examples where guests have significantly relieved long-term pain and seen marked upturns in their mental states.

The work is hands on and intimate with the guests, elements of the job that Fadzil clearly enjoys, again telling us with a real sense of pride about the relationships he’s formed and nurtured with guests. It’s not just his safe hands you’ll be in when you fancy a visit to the spa, though, as he manages a team equally as zealous about the wellness benefits available at COMO. It’s pretty clear that we’re talking to someone who knows their stuff, in no small part due to the regular training that all COMO Shambala employees receive at the hands of the head trainer, who spends up to a month at a time at each location to refresh employees’ skills – however long they’ve been there.

It’s clear that a trip to one of COMO’s Maldivian paradises is one to savour; in what you eat, how you’re treated, and what you take away from it. Josefine agrees, telling us that they want to make a genuine difference to their guests’ lifestyles and that, at the very least, the COMO experience is one that extends beyond the trip, to back home. Purpose, she says, is at the heart of everything they do: for their guests, for their brand, and for their wider impact in the places where they operate.

“It’s clear that a trip to one of COMO’s Maldivian paradises is one to savour; in what you eat, how you’re treated, and what you take away from it.”

When she puts it like that, it’s very hard not to agree, so we finish up our call with plenty of food for thought: how trips and experiences can be more than just their face value, how connecting with a different sort of travel could open up a whole new world of opportunities, and how, as the nights draw in in Europe, a Thursday night beach barbecue sounds as close to heaven as we can imagine right now.

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