Soneva: Where luxury blends castaway fantasy seamlessly
Soneva’s two iconic resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, have both island and overwater villas that embody sustainable luxury with castaway chic designs. Soneva Fushi’s recently launched One and Two Bedroom Water Retreats, of which there are only eight, are the largest one- and two-bedroom overwater villas in the world.
The Soneva Stars programme, which runs year-round at both resorts, sees visiting Michelin-starred chefs, famous authors, astronomers, athletes and wellness practitioners offering guests money-can’t-buy experiences.
The Den, Soneva’s children’s club, and its ever-changing programme of activities keep younger guests entertained and engaged throughout their stay.
Getting to the Maldives has gotten even easier for Russian guests, with Russia recently resuming direct flights twice a week to the island nation.
The One Bedroom Water Retreats (584 sqm/6,286 sqft) and Two Bedroom Water Retreats (857 sqm/9,224 sqft) are the largest one- and two-bedroom overwater villas in the world.
The spacious interiors and exterior living spaces give guests more to love, as well as making them perfect for families.
As each of the rooms in the Water Retreats can be sealed off, the doors out onto the deck can be locked, and the children’s room is located at the back of the master bedroom, they are child-friendly and suitable for young Soneva guests of all ages.
The One and Two Bedroom Water Retreats, all with water slides, opened their doors to guests on Friday.
The interior colour palette consists of light blues, greens, and soft beiges, bringing to mind the colours of the ocean around Soneva Fushi. The décor comes to life in a contemporary castaway style, similar to the resort’s newer villas (Villa 37, 38 and 43). The lighting systems are from PLH Italia, known for their sleek and discrete design.
Last year, Soneva Fushi gave its one- and two-bedroom Crusoes (villa numbers 20-30), a long-anticipated refurbishment and design update.
Set within extensive tropical gardens, just steps away from pristine white sands and tranquil waves, these villas are located on the sunrise side of Soneva Fushi.
Each villa now features its own private pool, as well as outdoor showers and bathtubs. Multiple new terraced and decked areas offer vantage points no matter what time of day, whether relaxing on a shaded swing to escape the midday heat, or enjoying sundowners with postcard-worthy views of the magnificent natural surroundings.
The two-storey villas have been completely redesigned to maximise a sense of space and luxury and make the most of the villas’ stunning and secluded beachside setting.
The iconic white-washed Water Retreats at Soneva Jani all include a 13m private pool on the outdoor deck, a pantry with minibar, uninterrupted lagoon views with direct access, and many of them have water slides from the top deck into the water below.
This is in addition to a top deck dining area, an outdoor patio with a sunken dining table, a study and a sleeping area for children (conveniently located within the master bedroom so that parents can be assured their children are never too far from them in an overwater environment).
The Soneva signature retractable roof over the master bed lets guests stargaze from the comfort of their bedroom.
There are 24 overwater villas in total, ranging in size from one to four bedrooms.
On the island, three villas preside over the white sandy beach; the newest additions are the Two Bedroom Crusoe Residence and the Three Bedroom Island Reserve.
The three-bedroom reserve is wholly unique in that there are no straight lines in the design, and it comes with a viewing tower that is crowned by a dining table. This is also the only villa with its own ice cream and chocolate room.
While most luxury hotels and resorts around the world organise pop-ups with Michelin-starred chefs, it is usually just a few chefs over limited periods.
Soneva incorporates the visiting Michelin chef experience into its year-round operations. The dinners are intimate, with plenty of interactions with the chefs, and opportunities for bespoke, memorable and unique encounters such as picnics on a deserted island or cooking classes with the chef.
Some of the chefs to have hosted dining events include Julien Royer (three stars), Kiko Moya (two stars), Claus Meyer (the co-founder of Noma), and Chiara Pavan (one star).
Over 50 Michelin-starred chefs have since visited Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives over 18 months, most with two or three stars. All chefs were invited to curate a special Soneva menu by making their signature dishes using our organic and locally sourced ingredients.
Dining options at Soneva Fushi include the intimate chef’s table, Once Upon a Table, where award-winning chefs show off their culinary skills.
Out of the Blue, the overwater dining destination also houses Out of the Blue by Sobah, So Hands On and So Bespoke, a restaurant featuring Asian cuisines a sushi counter and Teppanyaki table, respectively.
Other dining experiences include the plant-based Shades of Green that marries Nordic cooking techniques with South Asian recipes, Mihiree Mithaa where breakfast is served daily, as well as buffet lunches and dinners throughout the week.
Down to Earth is inspired by the age-old tradition of gathering together for shared meals, with a menu of Asian and international dishes.
Fresh in the Garden, high above the fragrant herb gardens, focuses on Mediterranean cuisine.
Destination dining lets guests create bespoke menus under the guidance of the resort’s Executive Chef.
Soneva Jani’s The Gathering houses the all-day dining outlet, Down to Earth, where breakfast kicks off the day, before buffet lunches and dinners.
The toes-in-the-sand dining at the Crab Shack is a homage to crustaceans and seafood, with Alaskan and Mud crabs regularly appearing on the rotating menu.
Cinema Paradiso by Chef Nikki is a contemporary Japanese restaurant with a Maldivian twist that overlooks the overwater Cinema Paradiso screen.
For stargazers, So Starstruck’s set menu dinners are accompanied by gazing through the resort’s Eleos telescope with the resort’s astronomer.
The weekly Guess Who’s Cooking dinner experience involves a secret menu, by a secret chef, held on the beach. Towards the end of the meal the chef will reveal themselves and explain their menu concept, inspiration and story behind the dinner.
Of course, Soneva’s food and beverage offerings would not be complete without the famous complimentary ice cream, chocolate and deli rooms, which are open all day long. An ever-changing selection of resort-made ice creams, sorbets, chocolates, truffles and more tempt any guest with a sweet tooth, with interesting flavours like screw pine, rosemary, and chilli with pineapple.
The deli rooms feature premium cold cuts, cheese, preserves, freshly baked bread and more. The Sommeliers at the resorts are more than happy to organise blind tastings, wine pairings and more.
Soneva’s signature experiences mean that there is always something to do, whether that is taking a glassblowing class in the only hot glass studio in the Maldives at Soneva Fushi, or joining the resident marine biologist for a guided snorkelling session.
The complimentary water sports available include kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and kite surfing (lessons with an instructor are chargeable).
Dive the vibrant atolls with the Soleni Dive Centre, snorkel with manta rays or try the world’s first fully sustainable surfing programme, Soneva Surf.
Private astronomy sessions, cooking classes with speciality chefs, or cruising the waves looking for playful dolphins at sunset are also available.
Soneva recently launched its Conscious Experiences, which centre around learning and delving deeper into Soneva’s philosophy and sustainable practices. Guests can take part in marine conservation under the guidance of the resort Marine Biologist, learn how to track wildlife on the island, or learn about the organic gardens and pick ingredients for their lunch.
Soneva Stars, focuses on five key periods including February half term, the Easter break, August holidays, October half term and the end of year Festive holidays.
The new, annual programme promises an eclectic line-up of thought-provoking experts and rare experiences from across a thrilling spectrum of interests and disciplines – from best-selling authors, daring explorers, and sporting heroes to leading wellness practitioners, motivational speakers and Michelin-starred chefs.
Throughout the year, guests are guaranteed to encounter bespoke experiences with Soneva Stars’ fascinating array of talent, whether those are hosted dinners, engaging talks or enriching one-on-one sessions.
Guests can expect fitness gurus to lead boot camps or get invaluable training from some of tennis’ sporting legends such as Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson.
Soneva is known for its children’s clubs, called The Den. Every day there are countless activities to take part in, from arts and crafts, recycling, cooking classes and more.
The Den teams organise experiences for children and teenagers around the resort, from joining the Marine Biologist for a guided snorkelling session to learning about the organic gardens with the resort gardeners.
Tours of the Eco Centro waste management centres allow Soneva’s young guests to learn about sustainability practices and what they can do to give back to the environment and local communities.
Soneva Fushi’s Den is a sprawling playground for the imagination. Children can explore a pirate ship, splash in two swimming pools, go down the spiralling red water slide, play in the Lego and Duplo room, dress-up and makeup area, and watch movies in the cinema.
There is also a library, learning area, and music room filled with instruments, and more. During family time, parents can head over to The Den with their little ones to enjoy their very own shallow pool.
The Den also has a separate lounge area dedicated to teenagers.
At Soneva Jani, The Den is not just in The Gathering, it also includes the whole island itself. Creative and learning-inspired activities happen all day long, while water sports around the lagoon include kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkelling, sailing and so much more.
There are plans to build a much larger children’s club on the main island in the near future.