Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with Intelligent Luxury

Soneva Fushi

“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 Fushi SLOW 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.

Soneva Fushi

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.

Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi
Bar(a)Bara overwater bar

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

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.

Soneva Fushi

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.

Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi

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.

Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi

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.

Soneva Fushi
Fresh in the Garden
Soneva Fushi
Fresh in the Garden

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.

Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi

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.

Soneva Fushi

All photos are by Kerstin Pilz

Herathera Rebrands to Canareef Resort Maldives

Herathera Island Resort, the first resort developed in Addu City has been rebranded and relaunched as Canareef Resort Maldives. This four star, 271 room property will be managed by Singapore’s Crescendas Hospitality Management Pte Ltd. Canaries Pte Ltd bought Herathera in 2014 for 33 million dollars, from MTDC, who developed the resort.

Canareef Resort Maldives
Canareef Resort Maldives

The 271 villas comprise  of 80 Sunrise Villas, 71 Sunset Beach Villas and 120 Jacuzzi Villas from sizes of 76sqm – 97sqm. Three restaurants, Kilhi, Meera, and Dhoni is served by the culinary team lead by Executive Chef Kampa. The restaurants offers International Cuisines, from local Maldivian delights, to Sri Lankan and French Cuisines. A well-equipped fitness gym is available 24 hours a day for the fitness enthusiasts who prefer exercising in the comforts of an air-conditioned environment.

Jacuzzi Villa, Canareef Resort Maldives
Jacuzzi Villa, Canareef Resort Maldives

The Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed who graced the ceremony held in Malé for the rebranding, said that this resort will open more job opportunities especially for the people of Addu City. Addressing the ceremony Chairman of Crescendas Hospitality Management Lawrence Leow announced plans for increasing the number of beds at Canareef Resort Maldives by introducing over water bungalows.

Canareef Resort Maldives
Canareef Resort Maldives

As an opening promotion Canareef Resort Maldives is offering a very low price of US$65 per room per night including breakfast for two, excluding tax and service charge. The resort offers from Dolphin Cruises to Manta Ray dives and the largest World War II shipwreck, ‘The British Loyalty’, to local Island Tours in Hulhumeedhoo for local cultural experiences. The Equator Crossing to the resort would be one of the key highlights of the domestic flight to the resort. All guests to the Island via domestic flight will receive a personalised Equator Crossing Certificate from the Captain of the airplane.

Maldivian Underwater Playground

Dive into Crystal Clear Waters at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

All other diving experiences will pale in comparison to that of diving in the Maldives. ‘Dive’ is in the name for Maldives for a reason. The underwater playground is filled with adventure – tropical fish, coral and even a shipwreck just off the coast of Centara Grand Island Maldives can be explored.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives focuses on reducing their impact on the environment in every part of their operations. As part of Centara’s core values, sustainable initiatives include the marine environment. Through Green Fins Project, the world’s first and only set of environmental standards for scuba diving and snorkeling centres, Centara Grand Island Maldives is able to better facilitate diving experiences for guests while protecting the precious marine life and ecosystem.

Centara Grand Island Maldives has additional innovative initiatives such as a reef growing programme, which was designed to rehabilitate parts of the reef that have stopped growing and promote the growth of new coral.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Recently, Centara Grand Island Maldives and Best Dives Maldives Dive Centre were honored to be recognized as one of the Green Fins Top Ten Dive/Snorkel Centres, among other resorts from all over the world. This recognition further encourages the team at Centara Grand Island Maldives to continue to work hard to preserve the natural beauty that surrounds them.

The PADI certified Best Dives and Water Sport Centre at the resort provides services for everyone, a starter or a pro. Several other water sport activities such as catamaran, snorkeling and wind surfing lessons are available and are free-of-charge. Wake-boarding, kite surfing, banana boating and para-sailing are also offered.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Family-friendly Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll, about 25 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport, or 15 minutes by speedboat from the domestic Maamigili Airport.
Surrounded by a glorious white sandy beach, it is the only resort in the Maldives designed in a colonial style, with whitewashed timber buildings and meandering boardwalks. Surrounded by palm-fringed beach and a shimmering lagoon allows for an escape on and off land. Just steps down from the terrace in a newly renovated Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, dive into the ocean or enjoy the 12-square-metre private plunge pool with views across the ocean. The Deluxe Family Water Villas offer an added level of comfort for families with a children’s sleeping area with bunk beds and entertainment equipment along with secured access to the terrace for safety of the little ones.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Receive a 20% discount when making diving arrangements at the time of booking. For more information please click here or contact [email protected].

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort Announces Wedding, Honeymoon and Romance Packages

The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, which opened 1 August, has announced wedding, honeymoon, and romance packages to match the splendour of the resort’s romantic setting in the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the south of the Maldives.

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort

For couples about to be married, a Deluxe Wedding Package at US$3200 (net), includes a six-course dinner with champagne, in-villa breakfast the morning after the wedding, a Navasana Spa treatment for couples and romantic turndown service. A US$2500 package is also available.

All weddings on the romantic coral-fringed island include a dedicated wedding coordinator, MC or priest, exclusive wedding venue, a ring and vow exchange ceremony, and a guarantee that no other wedding will be taking place on the island that day.

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort

In addition, all wedding couples will receive guaranteed early check-in, late check-out, a wedding cake, a palm arch or white-draped pavilion, a bottle of champagne, local Maldivian musician performance, and a symbolic wedding certificate*.

Honeymoon and anniversary couples have a choice of two value-added packages.

The Romancing Package (US$1430 net per couple) includes a bottle of sparkling wine, one in-villa breakfast, a candle-lit dinner on the beach, an in-villa Navasana Sweet Dream (30-minute bath and 60-minute body massage), a 60-minute body scrub or body wrap, a 60-minute facial treatment or 60-minute after-sun soother, plus 15% off a la carte spa treatments.

A Pampering Package (US$940 per couple) includes a bottle of sparking wine, an in-villa dinner, a bath ritual decoration with candles and rose petals, romantic bed decoration, a 60-minute aromatic massage and a 120-minute romantic spa ritual comprising 90 minutes of aromatic massage and 30 minutes floral milky bath.

Double Beach Pool Villa Exterior, Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort
Two Bedroom Beach Pool Villas, Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort

“The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort is made for romance,” says the resort’s General Manager, Mr Pascal Billon. “Whether on the beach or over the water, all of our magnificently spacious villas have private pools. Couples can also take a speedboat to a choice of remote private islands for the ultimate romantic experience.”

Further information: [email protected] Tel: +960 684 7771.

* The wedding ceremony is symbolic and not legally recognised.

Two all-time aquatic experiences with Manta Rays and The Golden Wall At Anantara Kihavah

Encounters with Manta Rays and Anantara Kihavah Villas‘ house reef ‘The Golden Wall’ are two lifetime experiences snorkellers of every ability shouldn’t miss out on. The manta ray is one of the most mysterious and largest fish in the ocean with wingspans of up to 5 metres or more and Anantara Kihavah Villas offers your best opportunity to encounter these amazing creatures in their natural annual migration to The Maldives.

Manta Ray and snorkeller at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Manta Ray and snorkeller at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villas
Manta Rays and snorkelling at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Manta Rays and snorkelling at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villas

“This year’s migration to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is particularly exciting,” says Joseph Lassus, Anantara Kihavah Villas resident Marine Biologist. “According to reports from the Manta Trust research team based in Baa Atoll, when the mantas arrived in May this year, there were more sightings of pregnant mantas than in the last 10 years. We are noticing this as well with the mothers getting bigger as the season progresses. With a pregnancy term of 12 – 13 months, this means that next year we can expect to see a lot of baby mantas in Hanifaru Bay. Already on a recent snorkeling trip we came across a newborn pup, which is really quite rare to see, roughly measuring 1.2 metres from wing-tip to wing-tip.”

Manta Ray pair and snorkeller at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Manta Ray pair and snorkeller at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villas
Manta Rays at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Manta Rays at Hanifaru Bay, Anantara Kihavah Villas

Curious, friendly and, unlike stingrays or eagle rays, mantas do not have stingers. They feed on a variety of plankton, which accounts for their large, gaping mouths. Hanifaru Bay is situated in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO marine protected biosphere covering an area of 303 hectares. From May to November each year, huge amounts of krill and plankton here attract all kinds of marine life, making it the world’s largest natural manta ray feeding destination.

The Golden Wall House Reef , Anantara Kihavah Villa
The Golden Wall House Reef , Anantara Kihavah Villas

Being the best place to spot manta rays in the Maldives, access to Hanifaru Bay is regulated by park rangers, who have close contact with Elements water sports centre at Anantara Kihavah Villas, giving our guides information on sightings before they head out on the 20 minute boat ride to the protected area. With no previous snorkelling experience required, tours depart 3-4 times a week from Anantara Kihavah Villas. Our tour guides scout the spots where mantas frequent, usually in Hanifaru Bay or in nearby currents where plankton and krill swim. Once in the water, snorkellers are then treated to an amazing underwater ballet whereby giant mantas glide and somersault in mesmerizing patterns. The mantas often swim within centimetres of snorkellers, always managing to avoid contact at the last second. On any given day visitors to Hanifaru Bay can see anywhere from a couple of mantas to more than a forty depending on plankton levels. Getting this close to these majestic creatures is truly an experience of a lifetime.

Colourful coral on The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Colourful coral on The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villas

At Anantara Kihavah Villas itself, the house reef has become known by the local divers as ‘The Golden Wall’. Joseph explains, “The beauty of this dive site results from the incredible amount of sedentary life forms inhabiting the wall, completely covering its steep surface, edges and overhangs. This provides an immense variety of habitat to many local species of fish, lobsters, sea stars etc. The area is clearly dominated by widespread colonies of soft corals, these being of many different species displaying a huge range of colours, such as the orange, magenta or mauve spiky soft corals and cauliflower soft corals. To have this quite literally on our doorstep means an amazing dive no matter what the conditions are. Among all the bright colours displayed, the particular presence of yellow and golden coloured variations make it clear to any diver why this reef is best called The Golden Wall and a “must dive” reef when in the Maldives.”

Colourful coral on The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villa
Colourful coral on The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantara Kihavah Villas provides a stylish haven just 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé. The Ocean Discovery Package for two persons is bookable on Anantara.com and includes five nights’ accommodation in a Beach Pool Villa or Over Water Pool Villa, daily buffet breakfast, and both guests enjoy a Dolphin Discovery excursion, a Turtle Quest or Manta Ray Snorkelling excursion, a choice of one Scuba Dive or one Scuba review course, a 30 minute Seabob water sport experience and a local island visit.

The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villa
The Golden Wall, Anantara Kihavah Villas

Arena Beach Maldives

Arena Beach Maldives is located in Maafushi island in South Malé Atoll (Kaafu Atoll) Maldives. Arena Beach is conveniently situated right across the beachfront giving guests a spectacular view of the northern seashore and blue lagoons of the island.

Arena Beach Maldives offers deluxe and superior room standards. All rooms are equipped with 24-hour complimentary tea/coffee and water, in-room safe, mini bar and wireless broadband internet. The hotel also provides laundry service.

Arena Beach Maldives also provides a wide variety of daily excursions and day trips.  These excursions include scuba diving, snorkelling, night fishing, sand bank picnics, dolphin cruise, manta watching, whale shark watching, picnic island trips and day trips to resorts.

The Spice Route Challenge 2015 Finale Indian Cuisine Cooking Challenge for Non-Indians

Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives will host the finale of the Spice Route Challenge 2015; a cooking competition of Indian Cuisine by Non-Indians at Azur Restaurant at the rooftop. The finalists who excelled at the semifinal round on 29 August 2015 are four aspiring Maldivians; Miss Aminath Abdul Rasheed, Miss Aminath Maeysha, Miss Aishath Shifa and Mr. Mohamad Ashrag.

Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives

Hotel Jen General Manager, Ms Vathsala said “the finalists spend the last week at Hotel Jen familiarizing and working with their respective appointed buddy-chef of the hotel. They worked along and featured their dishes daily in the recently held one-week long BollyFOOD festival at Lime which showcased cuisines of various regions of India.” And for their efforts, Hotel Jen will honor the Most Popular People’s Chef Title. This title is the choice of the people, our BollyFOOD daily diners at Lime, who cast their votes for their most favorite dish and chef-finalist.

Hotel Jen General Manager, Ms Vathsala said “the finalists spend the last week at Hotel Jen familiarizing and working with their respective appointed buddy-chef of the hotel. They worked along and featured their dishes daily in the recently held one-week long BollyFOOD festival at Lime which showcased cuisines of various regions of India.” And for their efforts, Hotel Jen will honor the Most Popular People’s Chef Title. This title is the choice of the people, our BollyFOOD daily diners at Lime, who cast their votes for their most favorite dish and chef-finalist.

Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives

The finale today happening on the highest dining peak in the Maldives, at Hotel Jen’s Azur Restaurant will starts from 4.30pm with arrival of guests and competition proper from 5.00pm to 6.00pm. Judging and Prize Ceremony will take place between 6.15pm to 7.00pm at Lime Restaurant followed by celebratory refreshment.

The Spice Route Challenge is part of a bigger program called “The Taste of India” which is a month long festival organized by the High Commission of India in Maldives in conjunction to Golden Jubilee Friendship Celebration between Maldives and India; with collaboration with Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives for second year running and new partner, the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies of Maldives National University. This festival comprises of a series of activities from August 2015 including Spice Route Challenge, Kitchen Khiladi, Cultural Events and the BollyFOOD festival hosted by Hotel Jen from 7th to 11th September 2015.

Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives

Ms Vathsala concluded saying her special thanks and appreciation to the partners High Commission of India and the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies and also the sponsors including Ooredoo, State Bank of India, NBCC, Salsa Royal, Residency Resorts, Taj Exotica, Maldivian, Mohan Mutha, Agora, Coco Cola, Nisran Pvt Ltd, TVM and Maldives Gas who kindly provided the gas cylinders for the finale and the priceless efforts of all local media throughout this month long festival.

3RD ANNUAL MALDIVES WHALE SHARK FESTIVAL 2015

Maamigili, the largest island in South Ari Atoll, is hosting the 3rd annual Maldives Whale Shark Festival (MWSF).

Local artists and some of the organizers are already in South Ari Atoll for the event.

7 local islands will be participating in this event which will see a special performance by famous singer Unoosha. She will be performing as part of the event’s finale to help raise awareness on the conservation of whale sharks in the area. This year, MWSF has been scheduled to coincide with International Whale Shark Day.

Unlike previous years, a science fest will be held prior to the event.

ScienceFEST will take place on the afternoon and evening of Friday 28th August on the island of Dhigurah, which was the first island to host MWSF. So, in addition to celebrating what is unique about the Marine Protected Area of the South Ari Atoll we will be supporting the sharing of vital resources and knowledge between Conservationists, Marine Biologists and Educators in the Maldives.

Maldives.com is proud to be the online partner of this very important event which has been playing a important role in bringing communities together to celebrate marine diversity and natural beauty of South Ari Atoll and the Maldives.

About Maldives Whale Shark Festival

Initiated in 2013 by Maldives Whale Shark Research Program (MWSRP), with the support of UK based artist Chloe Osborne and in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Festival is designed to provide the island communities of South Ari Atoll with the opportunity to celebrate the whale shark and the marine diversity of their atoll whilst fostering environmental sustainability and conservation at a grass roots level. Seeding the idea of an international collaboration between marine biologists and artists as well as by promoting the use of community art as a key tool for social and environmental education and engagement, the project seeks to boost local and national awareness and tourism to support future generations.

The MWSF is a collaboration between marine biologists, conservationists, artists, schools and island communities and aims to:

  • Celebrate the marine diversity of South Ari Atoll and its marine protected area (SAMPA)
  • Promote environmental awareness and conservation
  • Bring communities together through creative workshops
  • Support and showcase Maldivian culture through storytelling and craftsmanship
  • Contribute to the national cultural calendar
  • Invest in eco-tourism and support civic participation
  • Catalyze knowledge transfer between scientific researchers, island councils, educators, artists, students and community members to safeguard the future of the whale shark and it’s natural habitat

1030  Whale Shark Quiz

1130  Break for prayer, and lunch at school

1245  Island groups prepare for the parade

1315  Presentations on stage

1400  Start of procession

1515  Break for prayer, and afternoon tea at school

1545  Announcement of winners and host of 2016

1545  Bodu Beru performance with kite flying

Finale performance by Unoosha

1700  End of Festival

Soneva Fushi’s Chef Sobah Wins ‘Best Chef in the Maldives’ Award

He competes against 450 chefs from across the Maldives to scoop top accolades in multiple categories

Chef Sobah, Soneva Fushi’s Chef de Cuisine at Mihiree Mithaa restaurant, has taken top honours at an International Culinary Event by winning the ‘Best Chef in the Maldives’ Award.

The talented Chef also scooped numerous other awards at the event, including the Best Chef in the Maldives (Maldivian category); Best Chef (International category); Hot cooking Lamb Gold Medal; Hot Cooking Beef Gold Medal; and Hot Cooking Seafood Bronze Medal; among others. The annual Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives (FHAM) – International Culinary Challenge & Exhibition was held in August 2015 and attracted more than 450 Chefs from across the Maldives.

Chef Sobah, who has worked at Soneva Fushi since 2011, currently cooks at Mihiree Mithaa, Soneva Fushi’s open air beachfront restaurant that offers guests a wide selection of buffet dining options. Soon, Chef Sobah will head the new dining outlet at Soneva Fushi, aptly named ‘Sobah’s’; a fine-dining Maldivian restaurant set to open in the next few months.

Chef Sobah with Laurie Burr, Soneva Fushi's GM
Chef Sobah with Laurie Burr, Soneva Fushi’s GM

Built on the uninhabited island of Mendhoo, just 15 minutes by boat from Soneva Fushi, Sobah’s will serve traditional Maldivian cuisine with modern twists using traditional cooking methods. Sobah’s beach restaurant will seat 18 for dinner and will be open six days per week, subject to a minimum number of eight diners and weather conditions.

Chef Sobah learnt to cook at the Faculty of Hospitality in the Maldives. He specializes in preparing Maldivian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and Thai food using skills he learnt while living and working in those countries. He is famed for his Maldivian cuisine, which uses healthy, natural and fresh ingredients to produce clean flavours.

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. For more information about Soneva visit www.soneva.com

Maldives Floating Islands Plans To Takeoff

Christie’s International Real Estate, the company formed in 1995 by one of the world’s oldest art auction house Christie’s, has joined hands with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop luxury floating private islands in the Maldives.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands photo by Dutch Docklands Maldives

The ‘Amillarah Private Islands’, by Dutch Docklands and New York based Christie’s International Real Estate, are unique tailor-made floating residences designed by famed Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, who was named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

Amillarah in Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives means “own island” and are completely self-sustainable floating islands. The famed oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society is engaged with the project to ensure the homes are free from environmental impact, safe from rising sea levels, and to create a new underwater habitat for sea life. The project is to feature 10 exclusive villas on portable islands, complete with a private beach, a pool and a jetty to moor yachts.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

Dutch Docklands, that gained global media attention in 2011 for plans to build an 18-hole floating golf-course in the Maldives, was awarded five lagoons in Kaafu Atoll, all within 25 minutes of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (Malé airport) as part of a joint venture with the Maldivian government in 2011. The five-lagoon plan also includes 185 overwater luxury villas and a convention center.

A Dutch Docklands’ official said the designs for the floating islands are yet to be approved by the tourism ministry. However, the company hopes to begin construction by the end of the year.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

The luxury islands will be leased said the official. The Maldivian constitution was recently amended to allow foreigners to own land for the first time, but a US$1billion investment is required.

Dutch Docklands has previously said the five-lagoon project will cost US$500million. The Maldivian government holds five percent in the joint venture.

Dan Conn, the CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate said: “Buyers are able to customize the size, shape and style of their residence, within the broadest range of locations, beginning with this first opportunity in the Maldives.”

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

“Each of these homes is an eco-friendly work of art that can be lived in, allowing consumers to not only create, but enjoy whatever kind of paradise they desire,” added Rick Moeser, Senior Vice President, Christie’s International Real Estate.

“We have not only created a new luxury global brand with ‘Amillarah Private Islands’ but also a new industry of private island development to cater to our most discerning clients,” said Paul van de Camp, CEO of Dutch Docklands, according to a press release.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

Dutch Docklands said the project will be the biggest floating development in the world “diversifying Maldivian fame and turning rising seas into prime real estate.”

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

The five lagoons consist of 800 hectares of water. The environmental impact assessments for Dutch Docklands’ first project, the Ocean Flower, is complete and villas will be done within one and a half years. They cost upwards of US$1.5million.

Amillarah Private Islands
Amillarah Private Islands

Amillarah properties will be launched in Dubai and Miami next, Christie’s has said.