Amid the remote Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in The Maldives, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru sprawls across 44 verdant acres on its own isle. At its center, like a widely opened heart chakra, sits the Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat—a pulsating energy vortex of hope and wisdom. Occupying 2.5 acres of tropical garden and rainforest, the Spa embodies a coterie of thatched-roofed buildings, six of which hover on stilts above the sapphire sea. Though there’s plenty to do at Landaa Giraavaru, from bike riding to manta ray spotting to sundown sails across the Indian Ocean, I choose, instead, to delve deeply into the inner world of this spa. Under its spell, drawn by the aromas wafting from the herb garden and the perfumed melange of so many Indian herbal oils, I float into the spa complex throughout my stay, content to read a book on a day bed overlooking the water, take sunrise yoga classes or, simply, caress the myriad crystals for sale in the tiny shop. Better than the back deck or private plunge pool at my sleek, over-water bungalow, and more relaxing than the bone-white beaches of this island, the spa leads me to repose. This is my inner sanctum, a haven within an already paradisaical resort.
“How do you know?” I ask the Aryuvedic doctor after my consultation, an amenity complimentary to all guests staying at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. He’s just apprised me of my dosha, and mentioned some of my personal challenges. As a pita vata, I’m prone to stomach issues—but I don’t tell him that. He just knows. Aryuveda, the ancient Indian science of life, after all, dates back thousands of years, with proved health benefits. I leave my meeting with a spa plan that elevates my stay. No longer am I just vacationing in Landaa Giraavaru’s version of Eden (which isn’t a bad thing); now, I am taking charge of my mind, body, and spirit, supported by the spa staff of yogis, Aryuvedic physicians, and soulful therapists—a team connected by positive energy and a commitment to spiritual union. During the next few days I’ll have treatments designed for my dosha, and eat according to my dosha, something easy to do here as all restaurants at the resort have marked their menu items according to body type.
Better than the back deck or private plunge pool at my sleek, over-water bungalow, and more relaxing than the bone-white beaches of this island, the spa leads me to repose. This is my inner sanctum, a haven within an already paradisaical resort.
Most touted for its benchmark 14- or 21-day Panchakarma program (a well-being therapy which uses five elimination treatments, each split into three stages to help remove deep-rooted stress and nasty toxins), The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat addresses healing, as well, with less intense forays into ayurvedic living. Popular are chakra blessings, which can be undertaken as single spa experiences, or as a cleansing series lasting five to seven days. I don’t have the time for a week of chakra polishing, so mystical spa director Lucy Kennington, my Ayurvedic physician, and the team determine I need my Muladara (or root) chakra perked up. That makes sense—I am on the go a lot, and have just traveled 40 hours to be here. A sensuous adventure in balancing and centering, the treatment takes place in an over-the-water spa hut, where I can hear the lapping lullaby of the water. Sitting atop a pot, I get a foot wash, while being immersed in comforting frankincense smoke. The crooning of Tibetan singing bowls entrances me. Then, slathered with a spicy oil of vetiver, ginger, patchouli, and jatamansi, I receive a deep, languorous massage. While face down, I peer through the floor’s porthole to see an abundant selection of The Maldives 1,000 species of fish.
With a treatment menu that focus on prevention and enhancement, the Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat draws from the surrounding landscape and the cultures that have impacted The Maldives. But what sets it a part most is the profound energy of its therapists, yogis, and Ayurvedic physicians. They impart something healing, even before one experiences the therapies. According to Kennington, the team meets regularly to chant healing sounds and prepare for the energy transferrals of the day ahead. “The entire spa team is united by a strong currency of connection,” she says.
Indeed, I can feel it.
Becca Hensley is Editor at Large for Insider's Guide to Spas. Based in Austin, she writes regularly about travel and spas. She believes a good story draws you in like laughter in a crowded room, and challenges you to do it justice. Her work appears regularly in Austin Monthly, Travel Channel, Toronto Star and National Geographic Traveler.