As I descend the steps, growing accustomed to the dark, the play of light by the landing arrests me. The undulation of wavy blue light is enchanting and more enchantment awaits.
Pearl, the world’s first (and as yet only) underwater spa is secluded, much like its namesake. Huvafen Fushi keeps this jewel hidden in its meandering network of overwater treatment hubs. But the label doesn’t do it justice; entering the spa is like being whisked off to an otherworldly realm. Beyond its large reinforced glass windows is a lush coral garden with a slew of varicoloured marine fauna. Beautiful doesn’t quite capture it.
The spa complex was recently refurbished and to add more flair, Huvafen Fushi teamed up with skincare expert Teresa Tarmey. Teresa, a regular Vogue and Tatler contributor, is a specialist in innovative products and cutting-edge tech in rejuvenation, resurfacing and anti-ageing treatments. Meanwhile, the resort also offers a combination of ancient and modern, eastern and western techniques and wisdom via Beata Aleksandrowicz’s Pure Massage. It’s a unique style that combines deep tissue and trigger-point techniques. Beata is a renowned wellness expert and is a judge for the World Spa & Wellness Awards.
Moreover, Huvafen Fushi leads the way in incorporating indigenous Dhivehi Beys to therapies. Led by spa manager Aishath Zulfishan (Xubba), Dhivehi Beys draws from ancient, and often secret, remedies that are passed down from parent to offspring.
Today, though, I’m booked for Pearl’s signature treatment: Underwater Dream. It’s curated by Beata Aleksandrowicz and promises profound rejuvenation and improved sleep quality.
My massage therapist, Muja, leads me to one of the two treatment rooms. Curiously, the massage bed is not flat but reclining. Muja lets me know that this is how the signature massage is usually performed.
As the massage progresses over the hour, with slow, purposeful strokes and medium pressure, I feel relaxed yet alert. I open my eyes often, something I almost never do during a treatment. And rather than being a sign of restlessness or discomfort, this desire to observe my surroundings springs from how easy it is to remain present here. The graceful marine life outside the windowpane keeps me centred. Observing their beauty prevents my mind from wandering; this is precisely why Underwater Dream is performed while seated.
The treatment ends. And with honey spiced tea, nuts and fruit, I curl upon the anteroom’s large daybed and peek through the water at the sun; a yellow orb glimmering beyond the surface. A swell rises and small waves surge back and forth. Yet the fish are completely unperturbed and the activity among the coral continues. I hear nothing from the world above. It’s a strange and wondrous feeling; as though, like Huvafen Fushi’s slogan, I’m dreaming wide-awake.