In this Maldives Edition, The Sybarite had the pleasure of interviewing JOALI’s General Manager Enver Arslan, who discusses with us his experience in the industry and the exciting things happening at JOALI, which opened just shy of two years.
You’ve worked for a number of five-star properties around the world – what led you to JOALI and how do you personally feel about the resort in terms of what makes it different and perhaps unique from the other properties you’ve looked after?
Before joining JOALI, I had been working for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for many years at different resorts around the world including Jackson Hole, Palm Beach Florida, Las Vegas, Riyadh, Egypt and finally the Maldives. I was delighted to then join the pre-opening team of JOALI Maldives in 2017 where I held the position of Resort Director for four years, overlooking all operational departments before, during and after the launch at the end of 2018.
Working in hospitality, I find it very rewarding to be part of a new and independently-owned brand such as JOALI and to see it grow from strength to strength as the Maldives’ first and only immersive art and design resort. I enjoy living life to the fullest and was attracted to JOALI’s “Joy of Living” spirit in which nature, sustainability and the arts effortlessly combine.
How involved are you in lending your ideas for JOALI and is there anything in particular you’re proud of or something that you’ve contributed to the resort that has shaped some aspect of it?
I was lucky to join ahead of the resort’s opening in 2018 and loved collaborating with architects and helping to establish the resort’s broader vision to build a new culture and legacy. JOALI’s “Joy of Living” spirit is very important to me and I like to maximize this across all elements of the resort and its offering.
With your extensive experience and knowledge in the hospitality industry, it must have been something unexpected when the pandemic hit. Has there been any takeaway lessons or thoughts on what the future of travel might look like in your eyes?
The pandemic has taught me how precious and delicate life on Earth is, and I think lock-down has provided a greater appreciation of the beauty of nature in everyday life and the importance of taking care of this. As a result, I hope that sustainable and responsible travel will be of greater importance to everyone, and at JOALI we will continue to strive towards being as sustainable as possible and supporting local communities in the Maldives. We are already seeing guests stay for longer periods of time than ever before because of wishing to fly less frequently and embrace longer, slower stays and we anticipate that this trend will continue.
For those new to JOALI what would you personally recommend they do as an experience? I.e. for couples and for families?
Completely unique to the Maldives, I’d recommend exploring JOALI’s immersive art trail to explore the whole island and discover our fun and immersive artworks dotted around the resort, all inspired by nature with messages of sustainability at their core. Each villa has an art trail map for guests to use to explore the island independently, or of course with a guide if preferred. Artwork includes pieces such as a Manta Ray treehouse in which to enjoy destination dining and sundowners looking out to the ocean’s horizon, a swinging heron bird chair to read your book in while lounging by the main pool, and a ‘Club Tropicana’ mosaic, decorated communal dining table which resembles a colourful coral reef.
Currently, our transparent ‘glass-style’ kayaks in which you can see the ocean floor through are extremely popular with all ages.
How would you describe the JOALI overall resort culture in one paragraph? That encapsulates the spirit of the hotel itself and the island.
The “Joy of Living” and sharing this joy with our guests through art and design, sustainability, culinary arts and wellbeing. The “joy of living” encourages guests to be present and make the most of every moment of the day, and we as a team are continuously working to provide the most special stay for guests, creating memorable moments with loved ones to share for a lifetime.