Soneva Fushi is the original desert island hideaway in the Maldives. It practically invented the “castaway chic” fashion all on its own, with the honed-to-perfection service and atmosphere of a fairytale stay.
We couldn’t ask for a better place to welcome us back to our favorite 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 Soneva Fushi’s “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. All this put us right in the holiday mood.
Given the age of the resort, you’d expect that the villas should be 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 easy access to the beach, and they feel very private as if each were set up on its own deserted island.
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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 want to get.
At other times the resort invokes comparisons to a 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 (Don’t miss 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.
Not many resorts in the Maldives serve as idyllic an island holiday experience as Soneva Fushi.
Of course, the entire island and the surrounding sea is a playground, and we had our favorite things. One example is the reef. We only snorkeled, 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 than just a sailing boat, it 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 parlor 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 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 it 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.