Having visited the Maldives a few times now we are partial to the opinion that any other beach holiday experience pales in comparison. This time the first resort we stayed at was Soneva Fushi, the place that basically invented “castaway chic”. We couldn’t ask for a better place to welcome us back to our favourite island destination.
The Soneva experience begins even before arriving at the resort. As we landed at Male, the courteous Soneva representatives greeted us at the airport and ushered swiftly to the tranquil lounge, designed in the brand’s hallmark eco style. There we were checked-in and offered drinks and snacks, on which we munched while waiting for the seaplane.
The highlights of the seaplane journey that followed included some fantastic ocean views… and the final arrival at the Soneva Fushi International Airport. Which, as far as the “International” airports go, must be the cutest of them all. It’s just a small wooden platform offshore from the resort.
As we switched crafts for a short boat ride to the jetty we were presented with welcome drinks in the way of two coconuts, and our shoes were confiscated, in compliance with the “no news no shoes” policy. Needless to say, all the above put us right in the holiday mood.
Soneva Fushi is one of the original luxury resorts in the Maldives so given its age, you would be excused expecting that the villas should come across as dated. But they are nothing of the kind. The “Robinson Crusoe” feel of the thatched roofs and the organic shapes of the walls have timeless appeal.
Soneva is a brand of rustic aesthetic and eco-aware philosophy. At the Fushi resort, this approach is fine-tuned to match the impossibly blue sea, the wild greenery of the island and the white-sand beach surrounding it.
The sixty-or-so villas are tucked away amongst the lush foliage, all with an easy access to the beach, and they feel very private as if each was set up on its own deserted island.
Dream of an island
The castaway theme extends to other aspects of the resort experience. The butlers are called Mr Friday (or Ms Friday), the dress code is casual and low-key and one of the activities on offer is an intimate “desert island picnic”, set up on a tiny private islet… which is as close to the real Robinson Crusoe experience as you’d really want to get to.
At other times the resort invokes comparisons to some kind of fairytale. This must be especially true to families with children. The Den, Soneva’s concept children’s club is out of this world (though maybe not as spectacular-looking as what we saw at Soneva Kiri—check out our review). Build in the middle of the island’s jungle, The Den at Fushi is packed with creative ideas, cool surprises and spaces to play and explore. There is even a “pirate ship”.
Plus, there are bunnies on the island, just casually hopping around. Pinch us… or maybe don’t. From this dream, we don’t want to wake up.
Of course, the entire island and the surrounding sea is a playground, and we had our own favourite things. One example is the reef. We only snorkelled, but this was enough to give us an idea of the beauty and richness of the sea around the island.
Returning to the surface, a new addition to the Soneva Resorts family is Soneva In Aqua. Rather that, essentially, just a sailing boat, it actually is more like a floating villa, merging the resort-level amenities and service with a private yacht experience.
The food at Soneva Fushi deserves a special mention. Breakfasts are heavenly, dinners the best we had since we don’t know when, and the free chocolate & ice cream parlour had us as frequent customers. Another hangout we couldn’t get tired of was the overwater bar, which features a string of hammocks suspended over the waves. It’s absolutely perfect for a sundowner.
However, the most appealing aspect of the resort experience has to be the honed-to-perfection approach of the staff. The Soneva Fushi is in its own league when comes to the level of service, and the atmosphere this creates. Guests here enjoy a very special sense of luxury, making them feel more like a member of the family.
We could go on but in the end… what else can we say? Soneva Fushi is simply the barefoot luxury at its best.