Cuckoo for Cocoa Island
There are few things better in this world than a name you can trust, and one such name is Christina Ong. On a recent visit to Cocoa Island, the Maldivian outpost of her COMO hotel group, I found that this style maven is still at the top of her game.
I think Mrs. Ong and Trufflepig have much in common, though I imagine she might recoil in horror reading this. When building high-end custom trips, our job is to translate the clients’ unique tastes, style and interests into the language of their chosen destination. We become Rosetta Stones of a sort. For Mrs. Ong, a fashion icon with a very particular sensibility, I imagine the process is much the same. Each time she sets out to open a new hotel, she must manifest her vision and values using the native building blocks of that place. In this context, Cocoa Island succeeds in speaking the Maldivian tongue with inflections of Soho sophistication, Bangkok bling, and a whole lot of Bali bliss.
One of the greatest assets of Cocoa Island is the island itself (go figure). Endless and unspoiled views from each suite belie its proximity to Malé airport, just a short boat ride away. A long spit of sand curls away from the main resort like a comet’s tail, giving walkers plenty of runway when the tide is out. And the water itself is beyond description—I won’t blame you for thinking my pictures have been doctored, but I assure you they haven’t. The many shades of turquoise alone are worth the price of admission.
The suites themselves are built like dhonis, or local wooden sailing vessels, all strung together by an endless walkway that spans the entirety of the house reef. Many are set up like split-level loft spaces—expansive and airy with the bedroom upstairs and downstairs living spaces and decking overlooking the lagoon. Personally I love the style, which features rich woods and masculine fabrics set against stark white walls and the light pouring in from all sides. They are a departure from the pastels and coral tones of so many other properties, and give Cocoa Island a certain urban sophistication in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
For guests seeking total seclusion and privacy, best to book the COMO villas as the rest of the suites are fairly close to one another. None of the suites have plunge pools (standard issue in The Maldives these days), and while the food was delicious there was only one restaurant, which might be a concern for guests staying more than five days. But hey, this is Mrs. Ong’s vision after all, and her real passion is on display at the spa, now a shrine to the best massage of my life. I think she might be onto something, for once under the hands of her distinguished therapists, nothing else matters anyway.
Insane with jealousy after gazing at photos of these white-as-snow beaches? Speak with Greg; whether you wish to berate him for his good fortune, or simply take advantage of his trip planning.