28 February 2021
A pioneer in sustainable, barefoot luxury for quarter of a century, Soneva describes its extraordinary resorts in the Maldives and Thailand as ‘guardians of places that have existed long before us’, and set up the Soneva Foundation to help develop projects with positive environmental, social and economic impacts. These include ocean stewardship, forest restoration and water-filtering not just for its own properties but for local households, guesthouses, cafés, schools and businesses.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
A regular on Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold List of the world’s best resorts, Soneva Fushi invites guests to tour its Eco Centro and organic gardens to see how island coconuts are used and to pick greens and herbs for their lunch. You can also commune with nature by stargazing from the resort’s own observatory and camping Bedouin-style on a sandbank, and there’s even a tech-free Den to encourage kids to run wild. This is true toes-in-the-sand luxury in castaway-style villas – some with up to nine bedrooms that make them perfect for extended-family getaways. Lavish extras include private gardens and butlers, and some have private pools and often their own spas, saunas and fitness rooms. Some even feature specially designed children’s bedrooms and waterslides. Relax on your own stretch of beach, dine on an uninhabited island, feast on Michelin-starred cuisine, escape into Six Senses Spa, join in a yoga session in a glass-walled sala (pavilion) with forest and ocean views, and watch classic movies on the beach – it’s hard to know where to start. Dining venues include Fresh in the Garden perched over a canopy of banana trees, showcasing vegetable and herbs grown onsite. For kids, the Children’s Den embraces eco-friendly activities such as collecting coconuts and palm leaves to create locally inspired artworks. Guided snorkelling with a marine biologist go down a treat with couples or families, and there’s complimentary non-motorised water sports, surfing, diving with PADI-certified instructors, and even a luxurious yacht for overnight excursions beyond the Baa Atoll.
‘Conscious’ activities at this ultra-luxe resort spread over five private islands include the chance to see turtles lay eggs in the sand and perhaps even help the resident marine biologist aid tiny hatchlings. You can also tour the organic fruit, vegetable and herb gardens that lower the resort’s carbon emissions while providing fresh produce for its restaurants; the horticulturalist will even let you pick ingredients for your garden lunch and plant a tree sapling to commemorate your stay. Other ways to commune with nature in this stunning part of the world are stargazing and sunrise astronomy in the on-site observatory. Then there’s guided reef snorkelling with the marine biologist, diving with PADI-certified instructors, surfing (seasonal) and kayaking, plus outdoor spa treatments in champas in Soneva Spa, and yoga in the pavilion. Food connects you with your surroundings too, with bespoke dining offerings such as castaway picnics on deserted beaches, tea ceremonies and sunrise breakfasts in addition to restaurants including a pop-up beach venue with Maldivian specialities. The overwater and island villas each have a stretch of private lagoon; some have exclusive features such as retractable star-gazing roofs on the master bedrooms, fitness rooms, cute children’s sleeping areas and even waterslides into the lagoon. This being an eco-friendly resort, the kid’s club is heavy on outdoor activities and nature discovery, including lagoon exploration, nature photoshoots, trail hiking and scavenger hunts.
Good to Know
Soneva Fushi’s resident Ayurvedic specialist dispenses the immune-boosting supplement Andrographis Paniculata to staff and recommends it for guests. Front cover credit: Fresh in the Garden at Soneva Fushi.
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