Cocoon Maldives: marrying Italian design with nature to bring out ‘cultural luxury’

If there is any postcard destination in the world, the Maldives deserves the top spot. With islets of powder white sand topped by tropical palms and vegetation, and strung like pearl necklaces onto dreamy atolls that seemingly float on the turquoise ocean, the Maldives provides the perfect setting for the best luxury beach resorts in the world.

Rightly so, the Maldives has come to be known as the ultimate luxury travel destination, favoured by celebrities and high net worth individuals from the world over. It has pioneered barefoot luxury and several innovative concepts such as overwater villas and so on. Great design, unostentatious luxury and personalised service coupled with utmost exclusivity and authentic experiences have made each and every resort in the Maldives the perfect beach holiday destination.

And nothing like that still exists anywhere in the world!

But travel trends are changing across the world with the emergence of millennial travellers that are on the lookout for something beyond the usual luxury. The Maldives too is inevitably adapting to these changes as well, and this phenomena is evident nowhere else more than at the recently opened Cocoon Maldives resort.

Opened in December and officially unveiled in March, Cocoon Maldives is developed on the 6.9-hectare island of Ookolhufinolhu in the northern Lhaviyani atoll. Nestled in a relatively large lagoon even by Maldives standards, Cocoon Maldives is accessible by a 30-minute scenic seaplane from the main Velana International Airport.

An aerial view of Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

As the seaplane brings you directly to the arrival jetty, your first impressions may very well be the same as when you arrive in another resort in the Maldives. But at Cocoon Maldives, there is a whole world for you to admire and explore, as Italian design and the Maldives natural beauty creates a harmony never seen before. Through simple and chic interiors exclusively designed by world-renowned Italian design firm LAGO, Cocoon Maldives takes its guests through a cultural journey with a contemporary outlook. Here, Italian design takes a unique turn as it sets about telling a story of a culture that is deep-rooted in arts and crafts.

“My friend Alessandro Azzola [Managing Director of Cocoon Investments which owns and manages the resort] asked me to come to the Maldives to have a look at his island. I came down here when it was just another island in the Maldives, and I was awestruck by the natural beauty,” Daniele Lago, the Chief Executive Officer and Head of Design at LAGO, told Maldives Insider.

“Every design has a story, but we live in the present. So Cocoon Maldives presents that story with a contemporary twist.”

Daniele Lago (L) and Alessandro walk past a collection of water villas at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ IBRAHIM ASAD

The story begins as soon as you reach the reception where simple, modern swings that pay tribute to the traditional swings often found in isolated islands complement woven chairs set inside the thatched building. There is nothing much here except a desk with a computer system and shelf to hold necessary items for the operations. From this point on, guests are invited to leave the complexities and complications of the world behind, and embrace their own well-being in an environment beautiful beyond imagination.

The reception area of Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

In the 150 guest villas — including Beach Villas, Beach Suites, Family Beach Villas, Beach Suites with Pool, Lagoon Villas, Lagoon Suites, Lagoon Suites with Poo and a separate Cocoon Suite — a floating bed welcomes guests to a ‘cocoon’ of solitude where a carefully planned view constantly links eyes and landscape, and preserves and highlights its natural surroundings. Walls beaming with calming shades of powder blue and peach match with wooden details of the room and the bathroom, while the wallpaper projects an endless image on the facing wall when lights in the room are turned on.

“The main focus of the design is to reflect the vivid blue of the ocean and the natural beauty of the Maldives. The beds, chairs and tables are all suspended using glass bottoms. This reflects the crystal clear waters of the Maldives,” Daniele said.

A ‘floating’ bed in a Beach Suite at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

This simplicity and tribute to culture is seen across all dining venues of the resort as well. The main Octopus restaurant is a large open area with large oak tree tables where guests can enjoy freshly cooked meals while letting their mind drift away and forget about time. Deep into the greenery, a LAGO Community Table tears down all cultural barriers, and brings different worlds and people together. In the speciality overwater Manta restaurant, tables suspended with glass bottoms come with tabletops made from ceramic tiles decorated with traditional art.

LAGO tables set on a sandbank at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

As Maldives has come to be synonymous with luxury tourism, so has its resorts. Properties across the archipelago are constantly adding new features to satisfy those that splurge on their vacations — from private residences, in-villa pools to branded amenities and spa treatments.

But Cocoon Maldives keeps it simple. Here, food is simple but great tasting. Villas have minimal furnishing and basic amenities. Spa treatments are ordinary but especially designed to ensure peacefulness of the mind, body and spirit. Recreational facilities and activities are not grand but exhaustive. All in all, Cocoon Maldives does not go overboard; instead, the resort offers a well thought-out and elegant holiday experience with the feeling of lightness and joy.

“We have conceived a design resort that is deeply connected with the unspoiled natural surroundings and crystal clear water. Every space in the resort has been created with meticulous precision to give life to as fantastic an experience as the environment they belong to,” Daniele explained, still paying tribute to the Maldives, which he enthusiastically described as “paradise” on several occasions.

“This is the new luxury. It’s cultural luxury born from the environment.”

The simplicity offered by Cocoon Maldives brings a new face to the luxury that the Maldives is known for. Starting from the swings at the reception to villas and dining experiences, this is the place where luxury is redefined to connect with one’s mind and soul. This new form of ‘cultural luxury’ does not disconnect you from the breath-taking environment and scenery of the paradise island, but allows you be at ease. At Cocoon Maldives, as you ‘float’ on one of the swings, on your bed or while you are dining, your troubles float away as well.

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