If you’re looking for holiday inspo, here it is.
By Roshni Sachdev
Imagine a destination where you are surrounded by hues of blues and greens, a place where dense foliage meets white sands and turquoise waters. Now, what if I told you that I have been there?
Located in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi is a one-of-a-kind island resort offering an experience of laidback privacy and luxury. The resort can be reached by a scenic 30-minute seaplane flight direct from Malé International Airport, or a 12-minute speedboat ride from the domestic Dharavandhoo Airport.
We arrived at the latter, where our very own Robinson Crusoe-inspired Ms. Friday greeted us with a wai, and informed us that she would be on call twenty-four hours a day, always only a speed dial away. We were escorted to the resort island on a Soneva luxury speedboat, offered a refreshing welcome drink, and invited to take off our shoes to feel at one with Mother Nature for the entire duration of our trip. Before we knew it, we had arrived, the property now engulfed under a field of stars, sand in our toes, taking in the aromas of sea salt and the tropics.
Our Family Suite Villa was fitted with its own pool, floor-to ceiling glass windows, and a luxe open-air bathroom with a sunken bathtub embedded within a garden oasis. I was most enamoured by the tranquillity of the upstairs observation deck that would allow us to bask under the sparkling night sky, as well as gaze upon the panoramic views of clear azure waters during the day. The villa also included a second bedroom, making it suitable for both couples and families.
Despite the fully stocked pantry in our room, our hosts presented us with a bottle of wine and a smorgasbord of cheese, sandwiches, and fruits as a warm welcome after our travels. It was in that moment that we realised the impeccable service that Soneva Fushi had to offer, as they left no stone unturned in ensuring that we would be well looked after. After our midnight feast, we climbed into our grand four-poster king bed, excited for what tomorrow would bring.
After an undisturbed rest, I woke up bright and early longing to explore the resort and spend time under the Maldivian sun. I tiptoed to our veranda, leading to the warm white sands amongst the villa’s lush vegetation. Swaying in the hammock, I felt a sense of serenity I had never experienced before, one that helped wash away all the stress of work that was so present the day before. I could feel it; I was in paradise.
When we were ready, our Ms. Friday greeted us at the door. We followed her on our villa’s own bicycles to breakfast, encountering friendly bunnies and lizards on the way to Mihiree Mithaa. Situated right on the beach, the restaurant presented immaculate views of the sea, the desert island sandbank where you can enjoy Sonu’s Picnic prepared by your very own personal chef, as well as spot Soneva’s ultra-indulgent luxury yacht, Soneva in Aqua, moored in the deep blues of the ocean. The extensive variety at breakfast included an assortment of coffees and cold brews, Ayurvedic tonics for diverse health needs, an essential à la carte eggs menu, a waffles and pancakes station, traditional Sri Lankan and Indian options, cold cuts, sashimi, and salads, as well as a pastry room with homemade delights.
After a fulfilling morning feast, we were given a tour of the resort on bicycle. Within the resort itself, the array of activities included opportunities for restorative treatments at the Six Senses Spa, glass-blowing classes using recycled bottles, stargazing with trained astronomers in the Observatory, and an outdoor screening of major films at Cinema Paradiso. Soneva Fushi also offers a wide assortment of excursions beyond the resort like snorkelling with the manta rays, a sunset dolphin cruise, eco-friendly surfing, and fully equipped PADI diving courses. With an extraordinary kid’s club designed to unleash wonder and imagination, The Den embodies an island-style Disneyland supervised by qualified child experts.
Opting to spend our afternoon exploring the island’s marine diversity, we grabbed our snorkelling gear and headed to Out of the Blue. When we arrived, as if by fate, a pod of about twenty spinner dolphins frolicked past. I was in awe. We marvelled at the surrounding crystal clear blue lagoon, and decided to enter in style via the large slide from the second floor. With a tickling sense of adventure, we were propelled into the turquoise waters where we spent hours exploring the reef’s treasures, encountering black-tip reef sharks, turtles, vibrant schools of fi sh, and exquisite coral. As we worked up an appetite, we indulged ourselves at So Cool, where we were spoilt for choice with over 60 tantalising flavors of homemade ice creams and sorbets. Situated right next door, So Guilty allowed us to live our very own Willy Wonka fantasy, filled with irresistible chocolates, truffles, and pralines.
Living on Soneva Fushi’s time zone an hour ahead of Maldivian local time, we were granted more sunlight hours to holiday at our own pace. We spent sunset with a cocktail in hand, gazing out into the horizon in hope of more dolphins. As dusk fell, we headed to dinner at Fresh in the Garden, nestled high above Soneva’s organic gardens where the aromas of fresh herbs drift up from below. Soneva Fushi’s dining options did not stop there, with six restaurants in total, including tours of their garden, private beachfront dining, and Michelin star experiences.
During our time at Soneva Fushi, I was also given the opportunity to learn more about environmental conservation. I was deeply inspired by Soneva’s vision to reduce their carbon footprint with the development of vast organic vegetable gardens. The resort is also entirely self-sufficient in producing and bottling their own drinking water, and as a result has saved an estimated 150,000 plastic bottles each year.
Soneva Fushi has taught me that nothing is impossible, that splendour and adventure can come hand-in-hand with social and environmental responsibility. It is unmistakable that Soneva’s philosophy of ‘SLOW’ life speaks more than just about unwinding, and further embodies the Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Wellness values to prove that personal and external wellbeing can be a symbiotic expression of true luxury.