Soneva Fushi is one of the earliest Maldivian luxury resorts (established 1995) and one of the most distinctive too, with its early emphasis on environmental sustainability and barefoot luxury. This visit marked my second visit to a Soneva resort, the first being Soneva Kiri in Koh Hood, Thailand. With similar interior styling and “Robinson Crusoe” concept, great memories from the previous visit resumed ‘seamlessly’ at this lovely resort but even better with views of the beautiful Baa Atoll.
Soneva Fushi is located on the island of Kunfunadhoo in Baa Atoll, one of the largest islands in the Maldives. Baa Atoll was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in June 2011. Covering about 139,700 ha of coastal/marine areas, this site is a showcase of the Maldives’ wide diversity of reef animals, corals, marine turtles, fish, manta rays and whale sharks. A scenic 30 minute seaplane flight direct from Malé International Airport takes you to the resort or a 20 minute domestic flight to Dharavandhoo followed by a 12 minute speedboat ride.
The resort’s down-to-earth personality is reflected in its nature-inspired architecture. If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple – no news, no shoes.
On the way to the resort , our footwear are tucked away in a cloth bag as we sped towards the island on the resort speed boat. It is then delivered to our villa together with our luggage. The next time we do put on our footwear, is when we were checking out.
Our villa for the stay – the Crusoe Suite with pool. At 594m², it accorded us with loads of space and privacy. At Soneva Fushi, there is no water villa as it is the resort owners’ philosophy of preserving the atoll original condition with minimal impact on the ecology.
The villa at night, totally serene with all creature comfort you could wish for.
The rustic Robinson Crusoe concept are the hallmark of Soneva resorts. Soneva Fushi was the first ‘castaway’ resort in the Maldives, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays.
The villa living room. The TV, concealed in the box designed like a traveler’s luggage, does not have cable channels. But a DVD player with a selection of movies are in place in case guests need some entertainment, which is rarely so as there are plenty of nicer distractions, like star gazing or soaking in the villa pool.
The villa dressing corner, certainly a lady’s favourite part of the villa.
The pantry, fully stocked with beverages and snacks . But what I really like are the little thoughtful touches here and there, like the complimentary bottled still and sparkling drinking water produced on the island. Never go thirsty at a Soneva resort .
Spacious outdoor bath with equally huge sunken bathtub. Certainly makes shower time an enjoyable affair and even an adventure too, at the outdoor bath among the lush greenery.
The villa loft cosy area. Honestly, the only time I was here was when i shot this picture , as there so many places to rest at the villa.
Eco-friendly, low-carbon footprint activities are the hallmark of the resort. At the Maldives, there is plenty to do within the natural blessings of the seas and land. The following video aptly carries that Soneva feel.
On the way to our sunset dolphin cruise. Canapes, wine, fruit punch are handed out generously during the cruise. Definitely the most luxurious and enjoyable dolphin cruise I have been to date.
A pod of spinner nose dolphins spotted at the reef not far from the resort. Evening is the preferred time for dolphin watch as they are generally more active at this time of the day.
A local marine resident holding center court and enthralling everyone at the dhoni.
Snorkeling with Marine Biologist
Knowledgeable and passionate marine biologist Margaret, pointing out interesting marine life to us on a snorkeling trip. It was supposed to be a manta ray spotting trip but nature being what it is, we were not able to see any. But the informative sharing session certainly let us know the marine life better.
Large table-sized fish , a Snapper, at the reefs around the resort. The hard corals in Maldives, like in other countries, experienced bleaching due to global warming. But thanks to the eco-sustainability stance of the government and the banning of trawling fishing technique, have resulted in quicker recovery of the coral reef systems.
Chill out at seafront bar
At the resort sea fronting beach bar, certainly one of the most scenic and relaxing place for a drink. Perfect for star gazing as you lie at the cushioned netting or loungers and let the sea breeze work its magical comfort.
A canape comes with the drinks at the sea front watering hole, with style.
Gorgeous venue to witness the retiring of a lovely day and start to a beautiful night.
Dining at Soneva resorts always have that special feel. It might just be a usual Japanese sushi meal held at the jetty after our dolphin sunset cruise but with a singer serenading with her lovely vocals, the evening takes on different vibes. This was a special dining concept aptly named Food Journey, where guests dine as they walk along forest path at a few food stations set up from the jetty to the main dining area.
Nectarine vocals provided a lovely warm ambience to the stand-up dégustation session. Not recorded music but real human voice. This is Soneva’s attention to details.
Wangyu beef skewers, cooked ala minute for all to enjoy. With the BBQ aroma wafting through the air, we are set up for dinner ahead, no appetizer needed.
Another food station set up along the walking path, a seafood session prepared by award winning Maldivian chef Abdullah Sobah.
You know you are in for a real treat when an award-winning chef attends to you. Sobah, who is the resort Sous Chef, competed with 500 other chefs, some local but most of them foreign chefs from resort islands across Maldives. His awards included Faculty of Hospitality and Management Chef 2015, Hot Cooking Lamb Gold, Faculty of Hospitality and Management Best Maldivian Chef and World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
A game station set up to provide some light entertainment for guests. And as you can see, it’s all low-carbon and earth friendly activities.
By the time we arrived at the main dining area, we were almost too full to eat anymore. But who can say no to BBQ seafood cooked with tender loving care ?
Grab your own dinner @ Fresh In The Garden
Surrounded by banana trees, this restaurant without walls rises above the resort herb and vegetable garden. Diners get to enjoy a long, leisurely meal of Mediterranean-inspired dishes, prepared with freshly plucked produce from the surroundings.
Fresh herbs and vegetables all for the picking. This restaurant was included in UK Telegraph “Incredible Outdoor Restaurants” worldwide.
Perhaps a glass of healthy drink with organically-grown wheatgrass for you ?
Let your kids loose @ The Den
Couples with children are well taken care of at The Den. They can entrust their children to the childminders at the Den, and perhaps catch a scuba diving session or two.
Lego bricks all ready for children creativity to run wild. The bricks are “strewn” on the table after feedback from the kids, who preferred the “mess”. Children rules at the Den.
The children movie room. Simply an amazing kids zone with comfortable cushion and bean bags.
The sleeping room, specially designed for children needing that afternoon nap. With built-in drawers to store their toy and belongings.
A wide range of masks and superheroes costumes for young adventurers to live out their fantasy.
Rediscover yourself @ Soneva
The wide expense of the Kunfunadhoo Atoll lets guests luxuriate in her lush surrounding. A resort that is peaceful, serene and not commercialized. Allowing me to recharge and rediscover myself.
Coming from highly urbanised Singapore, where motorised transportation are the order of the day, it was a refreshing experience go human-pedal power when exploring the atoll. Bringing back childhood memories, as that was the last time I rode a tricycle.
A stay at Soneva Resorts is more than a vacation. It is a trip of a lifetime. Memories that will linger on for a long, long time. The impeccable service, ambience, culinary treats and activities are all finely crafted for a unique experience quite unlikely to be replicated elsewhere. The activities mentioned above is just a few available as my stay was just a short one. Many visitors to the Maldives frequently advised staying beyond three days as they will “run out of things to do”. I am very sure they have yet to discover Soneva resorts.
Footnote : All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and Jetabout Holidays and all rights reserved. Stay at this resort is hosted but opinion expressed is factual, honest and that of author.