Step off the seaplane at Constance Moofushi and you are invited to take off your shoes. This is a ‘no news, no shoes’ island, so you can unwind and just enjoy the soft white sand and warm water of the lagoon. The spacious villas with their thatched roofing are built out over the sea and reached by boardwalks.
The U Spa has its own boardwalk out to six individual treatment rooms. Each is angled so you can open the sliding doors and look out to sea. It’s quite a view. The sea starts off turquoise in the shallows, then gets gradually darker as it deepens, until far out, it meets the clear blue sky.
I have the Island Ritual (90 mins, $400). Anna, my therapist, greets me with a foot ritual and tells me that this treatment is ‘all Moofushi’. A massage with warm Moofushi coconut oil is followed by hot poultices filled with sand from the beaches on the island. I climb on the treatment bed, say goodbye to that wonderful view, look down and realise that under the bed is a glass panel that allows me to see the brightly coloured fish in the sea under the treatment room. This, plus the gentle lapping of the water and the soft breezes through the open doors, is enough to let me drift off.
Anna, who is tiny and softly spoken, begins the treatment with warm oils to inhale, a sweeping application of that oil across my shoulders and down my spine, followed by firm holding massage through the fine deep blue cotton sheet that covers me. She then begins to massage in earnest.
At the beginning I blithely said that I liked a medium massage pressure, but my shoulders tend to be very tense, and Anna had nodded wisely and said let’s begin with that. And she does. Her strong hands and the warm oil allow my muscles to relax and I am just drifting away again when Anna returns to those nasty knots in my shoulders and begins to really work them. It’s an ‘ouch’, but a wonderfully releasing ouch. The same happens on my puffy ankles. Anna works on the soles of my feet putting pressure on the acupuncture points. Then she returns to the ankles and really works on reducing the puffiness.
I am not usually a wimp, but I have to resist the temptation to ask her to go easy. I know I need this good firm massage, so I breathe through it and focus on the brightly coloured fish swimming around the stones in the water. Just as Anna is finishing and I am relaxing, a smallish shark appears. He is actually quite attractive, with a pale creamy body and black tips on its fin and tail. I am just glad to be safely above him.
Anna moves onto the hot sand poultices next. She taps them onto each set of muscles. They are hot, very hot, but Anna times it perfectly so that the heat gets into the muscles without feeling burning. It’s wonderful and I almost melt into the bed. I don’t want this to stop but eventually Anna asked me to turn over and she repeated the procedure on my front.
The final session is a massage on my face and the application of a rich serum (which makes a real difference to my skin given how hot and dry and sunny it is).
I end up totally relaxed and blown away by how effective a massage can be when delivered by someone as tiny but as strong as Anna. I loved every minute of the treatment. Afterward, I sit on the spa balcony, in the shade by the water and have a cup of ginger tea and a wholesome cookie. The treatment and the setting are perfect. I am so relaxed I don’t want to leave either the spa or the island.
For more about the Constance Moofushi in the Maldives.
11th December 2019
Warm treatment beds; fragrant steam rooms; therapists who listen to what you say; unexpected treats such as back massages that start with hot towels on your feet.
Small towels; crowded changing rooms; black mould in the showers; therapists who sniff; anyone who doesn't take my lavender allergy seriously - until I'm actually sick on them!
Behind the scenes