Soneva Fushi Nestled near the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Hanifaru Bay, is the eco-chic holiday resort Soneva Fushi with its fairy-tale reclaimed-wood villas. These idyllic beach retreats are great for couples seeking the barefoot simplicity of the Robinson Crusoe experience with a luxurious twist. The Resort also happens to be great for families, their “Children’s Den” Kids Club has enough to keep kids entertained during the daylight hours, giving you the chance respite to re-kindle your embered passion in this beautiful paradise.
Dine from herbs & vegetables grown underneath “Fresh in the Garden” A magical Mediterranean restaurant without walls that rises above their organic & pesticide free crops. There are several restaurants with a variety of wholesome international cuisines from European to East Asian fare, plant- based delights. “Out of the Blue” is an over the water dining area where you can order fresh pizzas, something hot off the grill or even visit the on site chocolatier and ice creamery for delectable sweets & treats. The resort does all it can to preserve the natural beauty of the island, as one of the early pioneers of luxurious yet sustainable tourism in the Maldives. they go to great lengths to reduce waste by reusing or re-purposing recyclable materials and generally avoiding unnecessary plastic however possible. Crusoe Villa with Pool
This offer is available from May to October which is best time of year for manta rays and other marine life due to the higher quantities of plankton. Poised on the Beachfront, these rustic Beach Retreats are laid out over two floors with a bedroom featuring either a king sized bed or twin beds & an ensuite toilet. The living room is on the ground floor with a large daybed/sofa and an Bathroom with a separate indoor and outdoor shower as well as a Bathtub. On the exterior of the villa there is a private terrace dining and lounging space and direct access to the beach plus a private ocean water swimming pool.
One Bedroom Villa |Private Pool| Sun Loungers |Two Floors|King Bed |En Suite Toilet |Living Room | Large Daybed |Upper Terrace |Dining Table|Open-air Bathroom | Bathtub | Double Vanities |Two Showers | Overhead Fan | Air Conditioning | Extensive Mini Bar | Personal Safe | DVD Player | Bose Hi-Fi system | Ipod Docking Station | Bicycles | WiFi on Demand| Butler Service | IDD Telephones
Complimentary Service for all Guests:
A Mr. or Ms. Friday butler for all the villas
Welcome drink and cold towel upon arrival,
A basket of welcome fruit in the villa upon arrival.
Delectable Homemade chocolate from the islands chocolatier
Homemade Ice creams with over a dozen flavors to choose from
Delicious Deli items from the Cheese room.
Use of “The Den” facilities (kid’s club), one of the largest children’s clubs in any luxury resorts in the world.
Use of the Observatory, Cinema Paradiso, Yoga and Meditation at designated times.
Use of fully equipped gym and tennis court
Non‐motorized water sports such as Stand-Up Paddleboard
Use of Wireless Internet Access in the villa and designated public areas
Bicycles in each villa for personal use and buggies upon request.
Out of the Blue has just opened – the latest dining destination at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. A stunning two-storey, overwater f&b structure housing five brand new f&b experiences, Out of the Blue is comprised of both intimate settings of just a few diners presided over by famous chefs, to much larger, alfresco shared-dining areas for all to enjoy.
A move set to strengthen the highly lauded f&b credentials that Soneva already boasts, the star attraction of this new offering is arguably the eponymous Once Upon a Table. An unusual horseshoe-shaped table seating a mere eight diners, Once Upon a Table has no menu, and will have a chef cooking for guests directly – meaning dinners are always a surprise.
Central to this new offering is the eponymous 50-seater, all-day dining area Out of the Blue, which hosts a number of different kitchens with international dishes. So Hand’s On is the dedicated sushi counter, seating five diners for lunch and dinner. This outlet is already set to welcome notable young Sushi Master Chef Kenji Gyoten in August – an unmissable treat. In addition: the Chinese Kitchen will be serving modern Chinese cuisine; the Modern Japanese Kitchen, run by Soneva Fushi’s Chef Nikki, is set to serve Japanese delicacies; So Cheesy will be paying homage to all things cheese-related; So Hot, will be meats and vegetable based including the Tandoor Oven, Robata Grill, Josper Grill, Pizza Oven; and finally So Chilled, will be a reincarnation of Soneva’s well-loved chocolate and ice-cream parlour.
Finally, the first overwater organic greenhouse in the Maldives has been created – So Fresh. Allowing guests to hand-pick the ingredients they wish to have in their salad, So Fresh is yet another opportunity for Soneva guests to reconnect with nature.
Out of the Blue launching is a core component of Soneva’s year-long campaign ‘Festival of Colour’, which celebrates the diverse array of guest activities and experiences. Soneva Fushi will be offering a curated series of personal dining experiences with Michelin-starred chefs visiting from around the globe at Out of the Blue. Soneva has confirmed a huge line-up of additional visiting experts in their fields, including authors, wine producers, world-champion free-divers, astronomers, artists, wellness practitioners, tennis coaches and more.
Book a stay as an eco-enthusiast and enjoy five complimentary bonus nights
We invite you to Stay for Good at Soneva Fushi and support our efforts to preserve the environment and enrich the community in the Maldives. Here’s your chance to be part of something meaningful as you work alongside our marine biologists, horticulturalists, mycologists, and community engagement managers to support local sustainability initiatives.
Stay five nights with us at Soneva Fushi, and if you agree to participate in the following initiatives, your next five nights will be on us.
A tailored programme will be prepared for you for a few hours per day, over five days, incorporating the following elements:
Land: Assist our horticulturists, mycologists, and gardeners in maintaining the vegetable gardens and learn how to grow your own vegetables. Deliver the vegetables to our restaurants and learn how to create a seed bank to ensure future sustainability of important crops. Help us to make sustainable bricks in our Eco Centro Waste to Wealth facility.
Water: Snorkel with our marine biologists to help with turtle and shark identification, and coral restoration. Spend time each morning clearing debris from the island that may have washed up, and help us to register the fish caught by the local fisherman. Participate in reef clean ups in the Baa Atoll to reduce marine debris and prevent injuries to marine life. Also, help to send photos of Mantas taken by guests to the Marine Megafauna Foundation to help with their work of Manta identification and protection.
Community: Work alongside our community engagement manager on established projects with nearby communities, which may include local swimming classes, composting projects, beach clean ups, and other education initiatives.
To book the Stay for Good offer, contact [email protected] or call at +91 124 4511000 and quote ECOPKG18.
Upon confirmation of your stay, we will begin tailoring a programme to suit your preferences.
Terms and conditions:
• Stay five nights with us at Soneva Fushi in any villa category and the next five nights will be complimentary in the same villa category if at least one guest in the villa participates in the full programme
• The complimentary five nights are offered on a room only basis, and exclude F&B, transfers, and activities
• The offer is valid between the periods: 12 May – 12 June 2018,21 June – 27 July 2018; 1 – 30 September 2018
• Additional taxes and service charges for the additional five nights’ accommodation will not be levied.
• The bonus nights cannot be exchanged for cash or other equivalents, be transferred, or be taken during a different period.
• The activities are mandatory and if not completed additional room charges will apply.
• The offer cannot be combined with any other promotion.
• The standard Soneva cancellation policy will be applicable.
* The exact programme offered to guests may deviate from the above-listed activities and will be based on the season, and requirements at the time of the visit.
There are few things in life more special than holidaying with a group of friends or extended family – and the latest in the line of Soneva larger villas at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives are designed to ensure bigger parties have room to relax in unadulterated, laid-back Intelligent Luxury. Truly vast multiple bedrooms, tropical open living spaces, romantic outdoor bathrooms… so much attention has gone into creating the perfect holiday hideaway you won’t want to leave.
Soneva Fushi is the only resort in the Maldives with villas housing more than four bedrooms – the recently upgraded and latest line of properties are made of a white-washed wood and clean lines, built to blend in with the natural jungle and beach surrounds.
If you’re looking for a three-bedroom option, take the new one on the end of the island with panoramic views, crafted from sustainable wood and bamboo, a true haven with sprawling terraces, seaside pool and special touches like a personal gym and steam bath. There’s an upgraded three-bedroom sunrise retreat with its suspended walkways connecting the living areas to sleeping quarters – and one bedroom is in a separate bungalow for that extra privacy. And the most recently launched villa has a decadent 2,250 meters surrounding its three bedrooms, an exceptionally large swimming pool and plenty of space to breathe.
Or if you need four bedrooms, there is the choice between the Jungle Reserve or a new residence that hugs a statuesque jungle tree in the hallway. This plush villa with ample space encapsulates everything you could dream of, with four sumptuous bedrooms, a study, a magical den for the children, even a room for their nanny. Not forgetting the huge slide from the upper deck into the seawater swimming pool below.
But for sheer size and spectacle, the nine bedroom villa that opened in September is the largest of any resort in the Indian Ocean, has real wow factor. Imagine a wrap-around sea water swimming pool with slide and over-water trampoline lounging area, a glorious master bedroom with its very own pool, and facilities that range from a children’s playroom to a library and private spa suite for all pampering needs. More of a private estate than a villa at 7,280 sqm, whatever the occasion you’d be hard pushed to find a more breathtaking, fun place to stay whether you’re celebrating a friend’s big birthday or enjoying a multi-generational family rendezvous.
Offering the space and privacy to play, party or relax amidst blissful natural surrounds, with all the resort’s facilities from incredible food to the top masseuses at hand, the Soneva larger villas surpass expectations every time.
Soneva Fushi has a sister resort Soneva Kiri on the island of Koh Kood one hour by private plane south-east of Bangkok. Koh Kood is Thailand as it was years ago. Untamed jungle, pristine beaches, fishermen going about their business. Barefoot Siam, at peace with itself. Also coming soon to the Maldives, is a floating villa concept Soneva in Aqua and a treasure trove childrens’ Den.
Inspired by the Sanskrit word for wisdom, Soneva Jani, the newest Soneva property to launch this October, will embody the brand’s ethos of intelligent luxury.
Inspiring a lifetime of rare experiences, Soneva Jani, set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed in lush tropical greenery, will allow guests to reconnect with nature. When designing and building Soneva Jani, Founder Sonu Shivdasani was mindful that the area should remain as natural and beautiful as the first day he and Eva laid eyes on it.
Guests’ days will be filled with yoga in the morning, bicycling along the island trails to the Eco Centro, discovering the lagoon’s marine life, dolphin cruises and Robinson Crusoe picnics.
And the night life? An evolution of the water villa experience, each master bedroom will feature a retractable roof. Guests will sleep under the stars at a touch of the button, as the roof slides back to reveal the night sky.
After an evening in the Observatory, guests will be able to identify Orion, the Southern Cross, the Bear and more constellations as they drift to sleep, with just the sound of the calm lagoon outdoors.
This is inspiration in its purest form.
About Soneva Jani
Taking bookings from 1st October, Soneva Jani is the latest luxury resort from Soneva. An evolution of Soneva Gili, the brand’s newest offering comprises 24 water villas and one island villa, with additional island villas planned at a later stage. Every water villa has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. Like all other Soneva properties, the spacious villas feature beautifully designed interiors by Eva Shivdasani, one of Soneva’s co-founders, and are made from the highest quality sustainable materials.
The resort’s soft opening is planned for October 01, 2016, while the official opening date is fixed at November 05, 2016. Bookings are now available from October 01, 2016 onwards.
In addition to Soneva Jani, Soneva owns and operates Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand.Soneva in Aqua, an ultra luxurious yacht offering an experiential travel experience, was launched in the Maldives in 2015 and sails out of Soneva Fushi. For more information about Soneva visit www.soneva.com
24 water villas and 1 island villa to open in October 2016 in the Maldives All villas feature a retractable roof for stargazing The resort is set in a 5.6km private lagoon
Soneva, the world-leading luxury resort operator, has revealed details of its newest resort, Soneva Jani, opening in October 2016 in the Maldives. The brand’s newest luxury resort offering will comprise 24 water villas and one island villa, with additional island villas planned at a later stage.
Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The highlight of the resort is its location within a 5.6 kilometer lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. The main island is fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed with lush tropical greenery.
Every water villa has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze. Like all other Soneva properties, the spacious villas feature beautifully designed interiors by Eva Shivdasani, one of Soneva’s co-founders, and are made from the highest quality sustainable materials.
“When we opened Soneva Gili more than 15 years ago, it stood out as a unique and new concept in luxury travel. It is my belief that Soneva Jani is even more revolutionary. There are many small details and improvements, for example at Soneva Gili, guests would often sleep on the top deck so that they could sleep under the stars. In each Soneva Jani Water Retreat or Reserve the master bedroom roof slides back at the press of a button. It closes automatically if it rains,” said Sonu Shivdasani, founder and CEO of Soneva.
“We live in an ever more crowded and developed world. Soneva Jani is one of the lowest density resorts in the world. Just 25 Villas are built in an area that stretches nearly five kilometers. It is not an island resort. It is a lagoon with five private islands where only one of these will have development. When designing and building Soneva Jani, I was very mindful that when we open, the area should seem as natural and beautiful as the first day I laid eyes on it,” he added. “Soneva Jani is one of the most anticipated hotel openings in the Indian Ocean this year. We have already witnessed a huge amount of interest, with the first few weeks fully booked within a few days of opening the booking system to the global travel trade.”
Soneva Jani will include all of Soneva’s popular features including a Spa, a dive centre, an observatory, a children’s den, an Eco Centro, organic gardens and an outdoor Cinema Paradiso. The cinema will be the first ‘silent cinema’ in the Maldives, as guests will be given Bluetooth earphones to watch movies so as not to disturb the nesting wildlife in the area.
The resort will serve global cuisine at five dining outlets, and will feature Soneva’s ubiquitous cheese, chocolate, ice-cream and charcuterie rooms that are complimentary for all guests. Various destination and specialty dining experiences will also be available.
“Soneva Jani is a place of incredible natural beauty. The waters in the lagoon have the most vibrant shades of blue that I have not seen anywhere else in the Maldives. We have an extensive array of marine life, including turtles, rays and occasionally dolphins, and the lagoon is an excellent place for kayaking, sailing and swimming as it is calm, shallow and extends for miles and miles. The villas are stunning and include all the attention to detail that Soneva is renowned for. Construction is progressing quickly and we are on track for an opening in October 2016,” said Olivia Richli, the Pre-Opening and General Manager of Soneva Jani.
Soneva Jani includes 18 units of one-bedroom Water Retreats, four units of two-bedroom Water Retreats, one three-bedroom Water Retreat, 1 three-bedroom Water Reserve, and one four-bedroom Island Reserve.
In constructing the resort, Soneva kept its environmental impact as low as possible. The pools use seawater with UV filtration and the villas have been built over the sandy floors of the lagoon, with no damage to any part of the reef. Furthermore, solar PV will be a significant source of power generation at the resort, all waste-water will be collected and treated on-site, and water will also be produced on-site, including drinking water. Soneva’s Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre will ensure that waste is recycled, while the extensive vegetable garden will give local produce for the restaurants based on organic principles.
The resort’s soft opening is planned for October 01, 2016, while the official opening date is fixed at November 05, 2016. Bookings are now available from October 01, 2016 onwards.
In addition to Soneva Jani, Soneva owns and operates Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand. Soneva in Aqua, an ultra luxurious yacht offering an experiential travel experience, was launched in the Maldives in 2015 and sails out of Soneva Fushi. For more information about Soneva visit www.soneva.com
Soneva Resorts and Residences, the world-leading luxury resort operator, has announced that Heinrich Morio has joined the company as the new Managing Director – Maldives, responsible for overseeing its flagship resort Soneva Fushi as well as its latest luxury offerings Soneva in Aqua and Soneva Jani.
A dual US and German National, Heinrich’s hospitality career spans more than 35 years, most of which have been spent in the management team of some of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels and resorts.
Prior to joining Soneva, Heinrich was the General Manager (opening) of the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai, and formerly the General Manager of the Burj al Arab, as well as the General Manager of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, both also located in Dubai, UAE. Before moving to the Middle East, Heinrich was the General Manager of several One & Only properties in Mauritius and Bahamas, as well as luxury resorts in the United States. He will join Soneva in July 2016.
We are very excited to have Heinrich on board with us. He has impressive hospitality experience in iconic properties around the world and we look forward to leveraging his expertise to further enhance Soneva’s service offering. He will work closely with Olivia as we ramp up to open Soneva Jani by October 2016,” said Sonu Shivdasani, Founder and CEO of Soneva Resorts.
In October 2015, Soneva welcomed Olivia Richli as the new General Manager (opening) of Soneva Jani, Soneva’s newest property in the Maldives, which is currently under construction. The resort is being built on a large island surrounded by four smaller islands in the middle of a large, five-kilometre turquoise lagoon in the Noonu Atoll, Maldives. Four of the five islands will remain untouched so it will be, by far, the lowest density development in the Maldives. Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani comprises 24 over water villas and 32 island villas.
The resort is surrounded by crystal clear waters, with pure white beaches, islands covered in rich tropical vegetation and set in a vast sparkling lagoon.Soneva owns and operates Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand. Soneva in Aqua, an ultra luxurious yacht offering an experiential travel experience, was launched in the Maldives in 2015 and sails out of Soneva Fushi. For more information about Soneva visit www.soneva.com
Joins hands with LightBlue Environmental Consulting to tackle fundamental problem affecting global hospitality industry
Soneva Fushi, the multi award-winning luxury resort in the Maldives, has recently joined hands with LightBlue Environmental Consulting to implement a food waste audit, to understand and address the problem of food wastage that affects the entire hospitality industry and to reinforce its position as global leader in sustainability.
The United Nations recently highlighted that food wastage was one of their most urgent priorities and countries all over the world are beginning to realise the true negative impact of food waste. The United States has announced plans to cut its food wastage by 50 percent by 2030; and while the European Union has set itself the same target, it hopes to do it by 2020. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “The impact of food waste is not just financial. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming.”
A detailed Food Waste Monitoring System was implemented by LightBlue across the Soneva Fushi operations for seven days, and included hands-on training as well as raising awareness among kitchen employees, stewards and service staff.
Employees sorted, weighed, defined and recorded waste for every shift (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to establish a food waste baseline (grams of food waste per cover) and understand where they could focus their efforts on.
The detailed audit helped answer crucial questions related to food waste: How much (in kilogrammes), where (in four categories: spoilage, preparation, buffet and customer plate waste), when, why, and what food is discarded. The assessment also reviewed how much it cost, and how much could be saved through the implementation of strategic recommendations along the food chain, mainly during purchasing, receiving, storage, prep, communication, buffet, and service.
“I think part of the benefit of a detailed audit like this is that it increases everyone’s mindfulness about what they are doing with food. This has really helped everybody throughout the food and beverage team and the organisation as a whole just to think about what they are doing,” Gordon Jackson, the Waste to Wealth Manager at Soneva Fushi.
“There was quite a dramatic reduction to the organic material being sent to out to composting site. So we are down by about 50 percent already,” Gordon said.
At the end of the comprehensive review, Soneva Fushi received the LightBlue “Certificate of Completion” marking its genuine effort in readdressing a problem that affects the entire hospitality industry. Resort employees who showed true commitment received a personal Food Waste Champions Certificate of Achievement.
“It was a genuine pleasure working with the Soneva Fushi team. I’ve never experienced such dedication from employees to understand, implement and address the food waste issue, which was pivotal in the successful implementation of the audit. I feel that this is the result of a genuine commitment from Soneva to integrate sustainability in every aspect of its operation, and it shows once again that sounds environmental practices translate into substantial financial benefits,” said Benjamin Lephilibert, Managing Director of LightBlue Environmental Consulting.
Soneva Fushi inspires the imagination with 57 spacious, multi-bedroom luxury beachfront villas that are hidden among dense foliage for ultimate privacy. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday personal butlers who know what you want before you want it.
About Soneva Fushi:
In 1995, award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. It has a pristine Biosphere UNESCO protected reef and is known for its legendary service.
Fifty-seven private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.
Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from and nine dining options.
If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.
About LightBlue Environmental Consulting:
Light Blue is a Bangkok-based boutique consulting firm offering expert auditing, advising and capacity building services to hotels willing to improve performance and minimize their social and environmental footprint.
Based on resources, needs and objectives, our hand-picked specialists deliver tailor-made solutions to cut operational expenses, increase employees’ efficiency and loyalty, as well as to improve the reputation of hotels operating more responsibly.
Light Blue’s methodology has been recognised as aligned with the United Nations’ Food Loss and Waste draft standard.
“May I take your shoes?” asks Xain our personal Mr. Friday. Our sandals disappear into a cotton bag, where they will remain for the duration of our stay. We have arrived by seaplane at Soneva Fushi ‘international airport’, a small pontoon in the UNESCO-listed waters of Baa atoll, and are whisked by speedboat to Kunfunadhoo Island. Stepping ashore barefoot feels like an initiation rite into the Soneva FushiSLOW LIFE ethos.
I have come with my 17-year-old niece, who loves bling bling, make-up, fancy clothes and, like most teenagers, needs her daily dose of wifi. I am curious how she will take to the ‘no news, no shoes’ policy of Soneva Fushi where wifi access is restricted in public areas, phones are discouraged, and understatement is the order of the day. There is an unspoken ‘dress down not up’ code; think classy bohemian – simple linens, ethnic robes, yoga attire, cotton bags stamped with your local bookshop’s logo instead of expensive designer handbags.
Opened 20 years ago by the innovative husband and wife team, Eton-educated Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmstrom, a former Swedish high fashion model, the resort is a flagship of their unique brand. The award-winning resort has pioneered many concepts that now define the Maldivian tourism industry, including barefoot luxury on a castaway island. Today this concept has matured into what they call ‘intelligent luxury’. “Our belief in luxury is about combining the traditional opposites of sustainability and wellness with luxury,” says Sonu. “We believe that these things actually complement each other.”
Sustainable luxury begins by sourcing responsibly grown materials to achieve the resort’s signature Scandinavian-design-meets-the-jungle aesthetic of blond woods, driftwood features and bright colours that bring the natural environment inside. “We avoid teak and favour bamboo and eucalyptus: both fast growing trees that we grow in plantations and that are just as beautiful as rarer materials,” says Sonu.
Driftwood straight off the beach and recycled woods artfully assembled into beautiful functional items, give the resort its Robinson Crusoe look. The mosquito net over my bed is held up by a driftwood frame and promises dreams of being stranded on a desert island; slabs of driftwood combine into a giant mirror frame in our enormous, jungle-clad outdoor bathroom; the toilet paper is dispensed from a miniature bamboo ladder; and the chairs and tables in the main lunch and breakfast buffet area look like they could indeed have been made by Daniel Dafoe’s fictional Mr. Friday.
“Sustainability is in the DNA of Soneva,” says Kevin Christison, curator of Soneva Art and Glass. Soneva’s Glass Studio is the latest edition of Eva and Sonu’s innovations that push the limits of sustainability on a tropical island. “Traditional ways of dealing with glass waste, has a huge carbon footprint,” says Kevin, who is a long-term collaborator working with chief designer Eva. “So we thought, let’s do it at the source, let’s up-cycle, not recycle.” A prototype range of plates, bowls, and glassware is being designed in collaboration with the chef of Fresh in the Garden, to match function with form. It is due to be rolled out officially for Soneva’s big 20th birthday party on November 21st of this year.
Soneva Fushi also employs a full-time Waste to Wealth manager, Gordon Jackson, who takes us on a tour of the Eco Centro recycling station. All of the resort’s food waste is recycled instead of dumped in the deep sea, as is common practice in the Maldives. Some of the compost, which sits heaped into gigantic mounds, is sold to other resorts for landscaping. There are plans to build a regional composting centre, he says, which would allow all of the resorts in the atoll to produce their own compost instead of buying it from Sri Lanka.
Getting rid of plastic bottles seven years ago, in favour of water bottled on-site (sparkling and still), now practiced by an increasing number of resorts throughout the Maldives, was a no brainer says, Gordon. He points to a patch of soil baking in the hot midday sun, where the resort’s second batch of solar panels – the first and biggest of its kind in the Maldives at the time was installed in 2009 – is about to be installed, to further reduce its reliance on diesel energy consumption. Another no brainer, it would seem.
Gordon leaves us at the Organic Vegetable Garden, one of two gardens where much of the resort’s fresh produce is grown. Lunch is a delicious sampling prepared by a Sri Lankan chef in a pop-up restaurant, right there in the garden. Our favourites are the eggplant and pumpkin curries and the simple fresh green garden salad, which actually tastes as a homegrown salad should.
On our way back to our villa we get lost on the 1.4 km long island, which is large by Maldivian standards, and come out at the construction site of the new Children’s Den. More like a resort within a resort exclusively for kids, this 5-star adventure wonderland enveloped in the jungle makes me want to be a kid again.
And that seems to be the point of this resort. Roaming barefoot through tangled jungle on old-fashioned black bikes, that look like they too have been recycled, takes me back to the carefree days of my childhood.
My niece also becomes an instant Soneva devotee; the room full of homemade chocolates and the selection of 30 daily changing icecreams – available all day until late on a help yourself basis – will seduce any teenager. I watch her become a little child again, kneeling down to pet a black and white bunny rabbit – there are a dozen or so roaming wild near the vegetable gardens.
Crossing the suspended wooden bridge swaying above the treetops to reach Fresh in the Garden, an exquisite treehouse-like restaurant, we shriek like excited kids. The composting toilet in the treetops, complete with the signature driftwood aesthetic and 180-degree views of the surrounding jungle, should not be missed.
Dinner under the stars above the treetops is followed by stargazing at the observatory, which is reached via another wooden bridge above the treetops. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has looked through this same telescope on his visit, Shameem the in-house astronomer proudly points out. Like many long-term employees here, this local Maldivian speaks with more than a hint of Sonu’s Eton accent.
We cycle back to our villa through the jungle. Earlier in the day we’d found the wifi button and flat screen– discreetly hidden in a mock travelling trunk – but we decide to indulge our Robinson Crusoe fantasy and switch off everything, including the air conditioner. Opening up all the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows feel like our massive coconut-wood beds sit right inside the thick jungle. We fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean, cooled by the natural breeze.
At Soneva Fushi the Robinson Crusoe fantasy is paired with an extraordinary display of high-quality foods and wines. The breakfast the next morning is the best I’ve ever seen or tasted (because as hard as I try, I can’t taste all of it). The charcuterie and cheese room takes me from castaway island to Italy and France; the extensive menu of fresh juices reminds me to combine luxury with health, and the extensive coffee menu includes Eva’s Special Cappuccino. A short black with a large hood of frothed milk, it is the cup of coffee I have tried and failed to order countless times anywhere I go. This resort truly speaks my language.
We never get to meet the couple behind the Soneva ethos, who call this island home. Eva is in residence, but very busy with the Children’s Den, and Sonu left the week before, but he promptly answers my questions via email.
“Luxury is what is rare to us,” he says. “Our theory is that a new luxury is emerging based on what is now missing in everyday life: nature, sustainability, and good health.” We couldn’t agree more.
Hidden among dense foliage within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi inspires the imagination. The award-winning resort truly defines the essence of barefoot luxury with Robinson Crusoe simplicity. The resort’s down-to-earth personality is reflected in its nature-inspired architecture.
Soneva Fushi Maldives is the original desert island hideaway. A jewel of an island – large by Maldivan standards – with perfect beaches, a vibrant reef, a colony of nesting turtles and its very own world-class observatory. There are few more beautiful locations on earth.
Vast, multi-bedroom luxury villas and private residences are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine, Biosphere UNESCO protected coral reef, making it the perfect resort for diving enthusiasts. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers who know what you want before you want it.
Every visit makes you feel young again. And children are well looked after too. Cycling around the island, never knowing when you might have to swerve to avoid bunny rabbits or lizard. Watching movies in Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the Observatory. Deciding between sixty flavors of ice cream. Eleven types of pillow. Five hundred different wines. Three to nine bedroom villas. And nine dining options too.
If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.