‘I’m flying to the Maldives’ I said to my friends as I turned my head, half hiding a smirk. A smirk that only people that have travelled to the Maldives would understand. And a smirk only people who have stayed in luxury in the Maldives would know – luxury such as Soneva Fushi.
The Maldives is a luxurious holiday destination. A picturesque honeymoon, a once in a lifetime memory for a family holiday or some indulgent ‘me’ time. For those that have been to the Maldives, you would be aware that Male international airport can be an abrupt reawakening to reality. Soneva Fushi have bypassed this by picking you up in the latest Tesla, an ode to their sustainability commitment, and whisking you away to their private lounge where the Soneva Fushi experience begins, from the incense burning to the natural drift wood décor and the organic snacks to keep you distracted from the hustle of Male. The service starts here!
I look out the window and what do I see? A cluster of emerald isles rising from the sea.
Many islands are accessible by sea, however, Soneva Fushi adds to its mystique with the adventure of a short seaplane ride allowing the guests to explore the landscape of this island paradise from the comfort of their deck chair. For us, as a travelling family, it was an incredible experience for our 3 year old. He didn’t know planes could land on the sea before this trip.
We give up our shoes, stretch our bare feet, as our hosts on the island we prepare to meet.
Our shoes were hijacked upon arrival, no questions asked, as relaxation was forced upon us with refreshing towels, drinks and smiles. I have been to the Maldives several times, and the island Soneva Fushi had selected took me by surprise. Normally the islands, coral atolls, are desertless clusters holding on to valuable grains of sand before the sea pickpockets the shore lapping the tide. But Soneva Fushi is a robust jungle exploding with growth, the island so beautiful itself that the iconic Maldivian ocean views are almost rivalled with the lush greenery of the treetop views. Mr Friday, our personal butler for our stay, weaves us through the labyrinth into our private abode. The accommodation itself matched perfectly to its surrounds, recycled timber, drift wood and natural colours blend in to the foliage to give you a feeling of secrecy and solitude hidden from view, where you can relax and enjoy your own private piece of paradise. With 5m high ceilings, multiple living spaces, huge bedrooms, a plunge pool and more outdoor showers and baths than our family of four need, this Soneva Fushi resort is designed with one thing in mind – luxury.
My little feet choose a different way, to places I can enjoy treats all day.
Soneva Fushi passionately encourages a sustainable model and to get around we declined the buggy and opted to hop on the retro bikes provided at our villa. The island is relatively flat, so exertion is at a minimal as we take in the surrounds at our own pace and leisure. And of course we headed to the CHOCOLATE AND ICE CREAM PALOUR. This may not rise to the top of the list for every guest but for our sweet toothed family, it was a hit. Our children couldn’t believe that a whole room was dedicated to chocolate and ice-cream – a room of deserts. Nestled alongside a restaurant over a reef, the restaurant OUT OF THE BLUE served fresh delicacies from numerous international cuisine. We especially grazed the SUSHI BAR, as the fish was incredibly fresh, and the healthier options allowed us to indulge in the desserts. Without eating too much in fear of being stuck on the waterslide skirting the roof, splashing at the entertainment of the diners watching our family speed and collide as we rush toward the crystal blue waters filled with sea-life.
Then off I go to The Den of play, where fun and games abound all day.
Soneva Fushi boasted the best kid’s entertainment in the Maldives and even beyond, having travelled extensively with our family of four, I feel like we have put many play areas to the test. THE DEN at Soneva Fushi exceeded our expectations. Generous with room, many kids clubs are an after thought, but The Den was definitely purpose built, from its front door exclusively for children (or Alice in wonderland) to its very own patrolled pool with a waterslide. Our children let their imaginations run wild with a dress up play room, a musical room with a full set of drums. Lego as far as the eye could see and a cleverly created day of activities that both entertain and educate such as the kids recycling paper, then creating cards. Unlike other resorts, as a parent, we almost felt guilty not signing our children into The Den in fear of them missing out on another amazing experience.
Another day ends, the sun says goodbye, our new guests, the stars, take their place in the Skye. The observatory is where we will meet them all, over a delicious dinner designed to enthral.
The Maldives is known for its seascapes, its overwater villas, snorkelling and diving, but Soneva Fushi has something unique that others don’t, a jungle to explore. Soneva Fushi has all of the views you come to expect from the Maldives but they have also opened up the heart of the island with FRESH IN THE GARDEN restaurant over the treetop canopy and a FARM TO PLATE plant based menu leaving us intrigued. The chef guided us through the produce, tasting herbs and vegetables as we passed through the micro farm, learning of sustainable growth, challenges faced and solutions to overcome the difficulty of cultivating crops on a tropical island. Needless to say, the dinner was fresh, with every ingredients plucked from under our nose. Not a glimpse of the ocean could be seen which is unusual for a Maldivian Island. It was more like we had been whisked away to a rural restaurant in the spacious outback, with nothing but crops in sight. After dinner we were delighted to walk a few steps to the observatory where the stars won the show. Far away from the cities distracting lights, we starred through telescopes at Jupiter’s many moons, at star signs and constellations boggling our minds.
A new day dawns, we watch the sun as it rises, our dohni sets sail, promises endless surprises. Building sandcastles, a little snorkelling too, then we soak up the rays, as well as the view.
Of course our days were spent on the beaches, in and out of the water. That is how a Maldivian holiday should be spent, no shoes in sight, only footprints on the sand. A Pristine environment with a plethora of activities such as snorkelling, sailing, surfing, fishing, cooking classes and beyond. The difficulty is choosing whether to partake or succumb to the over empowering pressure to unwind. We chose a mixture of both, the kids wanted to explore and the activities were very child friendly, allowing us to dictate the level of intensity with each activity we partook, and then exciting the kids with time at The Den, allowing us time to ourselves and importantly time to relax.
Soneva Fushi prides itself as a destination of rare experiences, and when compared to other options in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi is definitely unique. The options are boundless and the service is impeccable, but for me, it is their continued commitment to sustainability that impresses me most. To be able to deliver such a luxurious experience while treading on the earth so lightly highlights that Soneva Fushi has found the balance between decadence and the environment. From recycling glass, all cans and metals are crushed and sold to recycling plants, bicycles for transport, solar panels for majority of the island. Farming, crop cultivation & water management and controls. Soneva Fushi genuinely cares about its environment – it is not just for PR – their staff preach the message and train the local communities on neighbouring islands, as the water activities manager told us with a grin from ear to ear, on a wealthier island supplying much of the fish for the region, she had taught them to reduce single use plastics, they burnt over 10,000 bottles a month, by educating and providing solutions such as communal water catchments, ‘family’ 40 litre reusable bottles rather than individual 500 ml. Simple projects, yet the trickle down benefits to these communities, oceans and islands is huge.
A note from Soneva Fushi:
At Soneva, our aim is to create unforgettable, enlightening experiences for our guests, while aiming to illuminate lives and tread lightly on the earth. With that in mind, we make every effort to create and follow sustainable practices, from recycling waste materials, conserving water or preserving communities and ecosystems.
So go on, indulge in a luxurious-guilt free, environmentally friendly holiday that doesn’t bankrupt our eco footprint.
This review of Soneva Fushi Maldives was written and photographed by James and @kelly_beckwith of The Asia Collective.
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