Autoban designs the much-anticipated JOALI in the Maldives hotel – Raa Atoll, Maldives

The Maldives’ reputation as a luxury resort destination continues to strengthen with all eyes peeled on the newly opened Joali on the sugary white beaches of Muravandhoo island in the northern Raa Atoll. 

Architect Cüneyt Bükülmez of Istanbul-based firm Atölye4n, has laid out the resort to include a show-stopping arrival jetty – its undulating thatched roof said to take its cues from the rise and fall of the ocean – 73 private beach and overwater villas, that line a boardwalk that stretches as far as the eye can see; seven FB outlets including a liquid nitrogen ice cream corner; a Flower Garden that offers botanical workshops; and a Store that is packed with local and international artwork and specially curated artisanal knick-knacks.

Most of the interiors are by Istanbul-based outfit Autoban, who layered the resort with local timber, bamboo, terrazzo flooring, custom-made furnishings and hand-carved wooden panels in neutural tones that don’t detract from the aquamarine blue sea outside. Tokyo-based Studio Glitt, meanwhile, are behind SAOKE, the overwater Japanese restaurant, where subtle concealed lighting highlights the smooth timber interiors, free-flowing ground-level water channels and a soaring ceiling made up of timber blocks that create a Jenga-like effect. 

Art curators Zeynep Ercan and Asliala Onur of Istanbul-based company No LaB, are behind the resort’s international roster of guest artists – from London-based Glithero to New York-based Misha Kahn – which can be found in the Art Studio Gallery and dotted throughout the property. Don’t miss out on the giant Heron head by Cape Town-based Porky Hefer, or the dramatic ceramic coral-like sculpture by Israel-based artist Zemer Peled.

If that weren’t enough, other diversions include snorkelling with manta rays, wakeboarding, and chartered yacht and dhoni excursions among others. Personally though, you’ll find us lounging on our private over-water deck as we marvel at the sea life in the clear-blue waters below. §