Soneva unveils ‘new normal’ protocols

Soneva has unveiled its new guidelines, processes and procedures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak with a video: The New Normal: Soneva’s Response to COVID-19

Soneva’s goal is to make each private island resort a Covid-19 free environment, so that guests can relax and feel comfortable in the knowledge that everything is being done to prevent Covid-19 from reaching its shores.

All procedures highlighted in the video are to ensure the highest standards of safety and wellness for Soneva’s guests and hosts.

These decisions were made following the best practices recommended by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as numerous consultations with leading experts in virology and infectious diseases in the United States, Singapore, India and the United Kingdom. 

On arrival

All guests landing in the Maldives will be greeted by a Soneva airport host and escorted to undergo a Covid-19 test using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test report machine. All guests (adults and children alike) are required to undergo these tests – they are slightly uncomfortable, but only last a few seconds. There will be no costs to guests for this test.

All of Soneva’s airport hosts, lounge hosts and transfer hosts will be wearing masks, disposable gloves and will follow the highest standards of hygiene at all times.

Soneva requests that until test results are received, all guests wear a face mask. Soneva’s hosts will also be wearing masks until the results are received.

All vehicles used by Soneva for airport transfers, including the Tesla cars, will be operated with the windows down and they will be thoroughly sanitised after every ride. Soneva aircraft and transfer/excursion boats will also be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after each ride.

At the resorts

On arrival at the jetty, guests will be greeted by a Mr./Ms. Friday who will be handling all arrivals for that particular day and who will take guests to the island.

All hosts at the resorts will be wearing face masks and Soneva asks that guests continue to wear their mask as well.

Guest luggage will be thoroughly sanitised before it reaches the resort or the villa. The guest villas will be exhaustively sanitised/disinfected and are thoroughly cleaned before and after every check-in and check-out.

Guests will be escorted to their villa and are requested to remain there until the test results are received and are negative. Soneva does not expect this process to take more than six hours, but it could take up to a maximum of 24 hours.

As a result of this inconvenience, Soneva will offer all guests a credit voucher that can be redeemed against F&B or experiences. Guests can enjoy In-Villa Dining at regular published prices and the food will be delivered according to Soneva’s health and safety protocols.

On receiving a negative test result for Covid-19, hosts will come to the guests’ villa to extend a warm welcome.

In cases where the Covid-19 test result is positive, the resort will ask the guests, their family, friends and others travelling together to isolate in their villa.

As an exclusive privilege, Soneva will immediately waive the daily room rate of the villa for the next 14 days and the only charges will be meals and other incidentals. All guests under isolation are welcome to make full use of the facilities within their villa, the surrounding private gardens and adjacent beach.

To ensure guests’ comfort and enjoyment even while in isolation, the full In-Villa Dining service, as well as general housekeeping services, will continue to be available to isolating guests, delivered in-line with strict delivery and service operating procedures.

The resort medical teams have been trained on how to look after Covid-19 positive guests and observe them.  If there are no serious complications, guests will be allowed to socialise in the resort 14 days after a negative test or 10 days after the outset of the first symptoms, following the recommended guidelines by the US CDC.

Should any guest develop severe symptoms and have to be hospitalised, the Maldives has built sufficient hospital and medical capacity to treat Covid-19 effectively. The hospital on Soneva Fushi’s neighbouring island of Eydhafushi — only 10 minutes away by speedboat — has a new ICU unit with 20 beds. There is also a new hospital in capital Male with 159 beds and international healthcare standards.

Soneva can also organise emergency private jet repatriation or medevac for guests. 

Soneva requires that all guests have their temperature taken daily. The Mr./Ms. Fridays will provide a digital thermometer each morning and will be in touch later that day to ask for the results.

On the fifth day of stay, Soneva asks that guests take one more real-time PCR test depending on the prevailing circumstances.

To enhance guest safety and comfort, Soneva has purchased the Life Cycler 96 testing machine from Roche. The samples will be sent to Male for testing at the ADK Hospital.

A Covid-19 lab is also being set-up at Maafaru International Airport in association with ADK Hospital to facilitate safer, faster and more convenient testing of Soneva’s guests. Guests will not need to isolate in their villa while waiting for the results of the second PCR test.

Soneva has also implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols across each resort in collaboration with hygiene certification organisations. There will also be plenty of hand sanitiser available for guest usage at all times.

Soneva is working with one of the world’s leading inspection, testing, verification and certification companies to provide enhanced control in the current hygiene protocols to manage and reduce Covid-19 risks and to provide increased assurance to guests.

All cutlery and crockery will be thoroughly sanitised in accordance with internally accepted guidelines.

Each of the resort restaurants, facilities and experiences remain open and operational, with some modifications.

For example, the Chocolate Rooms will now be manned by Pastry Chefs, who have moved there so guests can watch them make (and serve) the chocolate. Soneva’s famous breakfast and lunch buffets will remain; however, Soneva’s hosts will now be there to serve guests. In the spas, while the therapists will have been tested regularly, guests will still have a choice on whether they wear a face mask or gloves.

Soneva has strict deep-cleaning and disinfection protocols in all common areas, specifically high-touch points such as door handles.

All hosts are required to undergo the same Covid-19 testing procedures as the guests, while all materials and produce brought onto the islands will undergo proper cleaning and sanitisation procedures prior to being brought onsite.

Holistic wellness

Wellness has always been at the core of Soneva, and now it is more important than ever. From a holistic wellness perspective, clean sea air and daily sunshine that generates Vitamin D are natural ways of boosting the immune system. 

Soneva encourages guests to enjoy the healthy foods served, whether those are Ayurvedic elixirs at breakfast, Andrographis Paniculata (a known Ayurvedic immune booster) that Soneva offers complimentary each day, or the many other healthy anti-viral ingredients that feature in dishes, such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, red onions, cinnamon and cardamom.

A regular programme of yoga and meditation, as well as other visiting wellness practitioners are also available for guests.

Soneva currently runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, and luxury yacht, Soneva in Aqua. The world-leading luxury resort operator also operates Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand.

In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with intelligent luxury.

Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden amongst dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Eight new one- and two-bedroom Water Retreats, perched above the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, are scheduled to open to guests by May. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.

Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from, six different restaurants and countless destination dining options.

In November 2015, Soneva launched a floating villa concept, Soneva in Aqua, a treasure trove children’s Den and a multi-purpose facility encompasses a glass gallery, boutique and studio where guests can learn the art of glass blowing.

Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives.

Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi.

Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa, with additional villas to be built in phase two. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.

Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.

Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.

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