With another long weekend on the horizon, the Maldives, located only four hours away from the UAE, really should be the only place you’re considering traveling to this Eid. And there’s one resort in particular that should be at the top of your must-visit list: Soneva Fushi.
Named after its founders, husband and wife duo Sonu and Eva Shivdasani (who live on the island themselves), this unique property is all about sustainable luxury. Sitting amidst the crashing waves of the idyllic Indian Ocean, the resort is inspired by – and aims to preserve – nature’s vast beauty whilst continuing to provide bespoke, indulgent touches.
Location, Location, Location
Set in the Baa Atoll Unesco Reserve, this slice of desert-island paradise has struck the perfect balance between utmost luxury and stripped-back Robinson Crusoe fantasy. Soneva Fushi is the only hotel to populate the large Maldivian island of Kunfunadhoo, and its 57 private villas dot the edges of its silky white beaches. The island is just a 25-minute domestic seaplane ride from Male airport, and the views while flying over turquoise waters are really worth the extra bit of travel time.
If you’re apprehensive about the connection, don’t be. We were greeted by one of the resort’s private butlers (they’re all known as Mr. or Ms. Friday on the island) who checked in our luggage, walked us to the departure lounge, and even boarded the plane with us – it couldn’t have been easier. This fuss-free service was just a glimpse of what’s to come.
Attention to Detail
After touchdown, we were helped onto a speedboat by our Ms. Friday (our very own personal butler) who would be taking care of everything from dinner reservations to laundry pressing for the duration of our stay. She greeted us by name, handed us fresh coconuts filled with delicious juice, and immediately took our shoes, which she stored in laundry bags. The hotel follows a “no news, no shoes” policy, and you really won’t find any satellite TV or footwear on the island beyond this point. Upon boarding the pier, the breathtaking views provided a picture-perfect moment, which prompted us to wonder: Had we just found paradise?
From here on out, every single detail had been thought of. Luggage? In your villa before you are. Sandy feet? Spiky hedgehog ornaments sit at every doorway for feet cleaning. Oh, and if you favor a particular in-room scent or specific pillow, the hotel will have been informed of that via a questionnaire that you’re asked to fill out while waiting in the airport lounge. We opted for lemongrass and duck feathers.
There is only one word to describe the ‘Crusoe’ villa in which we resided for four nights: special. Hidden amongst dense foliage, but in plain sight of our own private stretch of beach, there was absolutely nothing pretentious about the nature-inspired architecture and decor, though it remained opulent. The extensive bathroom was completely outdoors (and private) with only palm trees and the occasional island animal as our neighbors. Inside, a dressing room, kitchen, laundry area, bedroom, and open-plan living room were decorated with light wood throughout in perfect keeping with the organic theme. Soft music played throughout the entire space from speakers located on the balcony, bathroom, and seating areas, but the pièce de résistance was the private fresh-water swimming pool. It was perfect for when, you know, the crystal blue ocean just wasn’t enough…
For Sonu and Eva, building a hotel that was both beautiful and sustainable was of the utmost importance, and they take their responsibility to the planet very seriously. It’s no surprise that Soneva Fushi has won several awards in recognition of social and environmental sustainability as the resort has left no stone unturned when it comes to innovative ways to lower its carbon footprint, re-use, and recycle. You won’t find a single ounce of bottled drinking water on the Island; instead, (delicious) mineral-enhanced H2O is served in reusable glass bottles, which are made in Soneva’s very own glass factory. The resort also boasts the largest solar plant in the Maldives, natural ventilation throughout, soil made from organic food waste, and furniture constructed from recycled wood. A hotel with a heart? Sold.
Dining With a Difference
When it comes to food at Soneva Fushi, the options really are endless. It’s difficult to know where to start when you sit down for breakfast, so, naturally, we tried one of everything. Everything being homemade pastries, organic yoghurt and berry granola, fried eggs, bacon and mushrooms, and a huge platter of exotic fruits. Fresh seafood is delivered by boat from local fisherman daily, for both lunch and dinner, which is used in pastas, pizzas, and grilled platter recipes. And if that wasn’t enough, the 24-hour cheese, cured ham, ice cream, and chocolate rooms are sure to satisfy your midday, midnight, or all-day snacking habit.
Most noteworthy, however, was outdoor restaurant Fresh in the Garden. Standing amongst the lofty heights of tropical banana trees, this Mediterranean dining experience (literally) rises above all others. The adult tree-house was a culinary and visual delight. Its menu uses ingredients grown in the large mushroom and herb garden, situated just below the very table on which we sat. The surroundings were dimly lit, creating a romantic yet leisurely setting (you’re dining without shoes, remember) in which the beautifully plated food could be admired. The fillet steak and home-grown wild mushrooms were the best I’d ever had.
And if all that wasn’t enough to overwhelm you, the resort does everything it can to provide unique experiences for its guests, stopping the infamous Maldivian island fever in its tracks. The open-air ‘Cinema Paradiso’ was situated a few feet away from the crashing waves, lit only by the blanket of stars above and the huge screen showing classic black-and-white movies. We also chose to try the sunset dolphin cruise, and it was really an experience of a lifetime. We were served freshly prepared fish canapés while the gorgeous sun set into the horizon. We were lucky enough to see a family of wild dolphins playing with each other, jumping next to the boat, and coming close enough that we could almost touch them – a memory that I’ll always treasure.
Due to minimal lighting on the island, the night sky wasn’t affected by light pollution. Being from London and now residing in Dubai, the amount of star-gazing I’ve been privy to in my time is minimal to say the least, and the canopy of twinkling stars over the island really left me speechless. It looked as though a handful of fine, white sand had been thrown into the air and stayed there. The resort’s very own Observatory was the perfect place to appreciate this natural phenomenon. I didn’t even know it was possible, but the in-house astronomers helped us operate the state-of-the-art telescope and, thanks to clear skies that night, we were able to count Saturn’s rings (no, seriously), see the Milky Way, and admire the Gemini, Leo, and Virgo constellations. The perfect ending to a trip full of unexpected moments.
For more information or to book a stay, click here or call reservations on (+91) 124 4511000.