Pioneering hospitality brand Soneva and international wellness enterprise ORGANIC INDIA have partnered to launch the first-ever SOUL Festival in the Maldives. Taking place from September 29 to October 8, 2023, the health and wellbeing-focused festival will be held at the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi, located within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Over the course of ten days and two weekends, the intimate festival retreat invites guests from across the world to explore wellness in all its forms, from personal to planetary.
Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a focus on wellness and living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle has never been more important. Champions of innovation and positive change, both Soneva and Organic India are committed to nurturing the wellbeing of their communities and the environment. Proceeds from the sale of SOUL Festival tickets will go to the Soneva Foundation and ORGANIC INDIA Foundation to support the development of projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.
A life-enriching festival with a purpose, SOUL offers guests a verdant space to move, eat, explore and be creative, while celebrating ancient healing traditions and modern innovations that benefit individuals, communities and the planet. Each weekend, the festival will include a diverse programme of panel discussions with globally acclaimed health and wellness leaders, interspersed with group yoga and meditation classes, healing rituals, live music performances and barefoot gala celebrations on the sand.
Weekdays at SOUL will focus on a more immersive wellbeing journey for guests, with intimate, experiential workshops each day, and one-on-one consultations with world-renowned wellness specialists and practitioners.
Idyllic venues inspired by Soneva Fushi’s breath-taking island location elevate guests’ wellness experience and invite them to rejuvenate and relax, while delicious, wholesome menus will be specially curated to support guests’ wellness goals, with an emphasis on plant-based cuisine and adaptogenic foods that rebalance and restore. Rare, one-of-a-kind experiences also offer the chance to reconnect with nature and embrace the Slow Life in between sessions: from ziplining through the rainforest to dine in the treetops, to snorkelling with expert Marine Biologists, to swimming with manta rays or escaping to a private sandbank to watch the sunset.
The inaugural edition of SOUL will welcome a global line-up of visionaries, thought leaders and wellness pioneers to further explore the frontiers of health and wellbeing. The list of international speakers includes psychologist, scientist and social entrepreneur Shamini Jain; gastroenterologist, neuroscientist and author of The Mind Gut Connection Dr Emeran Mayer; clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert Shauna Shapiro; Goi Peace Award recipient and best-selling author Bruce Lipton; renowned spiritual leader andmotivational speaker Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati; award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Jo Marchant; American director, producer and cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg; thirteen-time best-selling author and founder of Bio Blends Dr Libby Weaver; award-winning science journalist Gaia Vince; naturopathic doctor and doctor of Oriental medicine Dr Lilly-Marie Blecher; Ayurvedic doctor and author Dr Robert Svoboda, who is the first-ever Westerner to graduate from a college of Ayurveda and be licensed to practice in India; and anxiety and mindfulness coach Amanda Huggins.
“We are so proud to host the first edition of SOUL Festival at Soneva Fushi,” says Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and co-founder of Soneva. “Wellness permeates all that we do at Soneva: our sustainable, barefoot philosophy that reconnects our guests to the earth; our life-affirming natural locations; our delicious yet health-focused cuisine; and our life-changing guest experiences. The festival’s remarkable programme is an opportunity to explore every facet of health and wellbeing, and I cannot wait to welcome the line-up of outstanding wellness experts to our shores.”
“SOUL Festival is a rare opportunity to experience a deeply immersive journey with some of the world’s leaders in wellness, health and regeneration”, adds festival director Chris Deckker. “From keynote talks and interactive panels to immersive workshops, intimate dinners and remote Island adventures, this unprecedented festival retreat is unlike any other in the world, hosted on one of the most magical Islands in the Maldives.”
Throughout each day during their stay, guests will be able to explore and indulge in everything that Soneva Fushi has to offer: miles of pristine sandy beaches edged by tranquil turquoise waters; exquisite private villa accommodation, with Barefoot Guardians on hand 24/7 to anticipate every request; exceptional dining destinations serving the finest cuisine from across the world; and unique experiences that create memories to last a lifetime.
In addition to the live, in-person sessions for Soneva Fushi guests, SOUL’s sessions will also be streamed to a vast global audience. Online participants will be encouraged to make a donation to support the event, further raising funds and knowledge about the causes and initiatives supported by the Soneva Foundation and the Organic India Foundation.
For those wanting to attend SOUL Festival, Soneva’s exclusive offer starts from USD 6,900 for two guests for a minimum three-night stay. This includes two festival tickets and full access to the entire programme during guests’ stay, with luxurious private villa accommodation alongside daily full board at selected dining destinations and complimentary round–trip wheeled plane domestic transfers.
Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry
In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.
Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.
After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.
Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.
In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.
As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.
Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.
Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.
As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.
A remarkable tale of wanderlust: Naito Takashi’s 103rd journey to the Maldives
The azure waters of the Maldives have long been a magnet for travelers seeking paradise on Earth. Among these wanderers, one name stands out – Naito Takashi, a Japanese tourist whose boundless enthusiasm for the Maldives has led him to visit this tropical haven a staggering 103 times. His unwavering love for this island nation, coupled with its mesmerizing beauty, has turned his visits into a remarkable testament to the allure of the Maldives.
For the past 24 years, Naito Takashi has visited Maldives between three to five times annually, embarking on a journey that has spanned more than two decades. His tale is one of dedication, passion, and a deep-rooted connection with the captivating landscapes that the Maldives offers. Each visit is not just a vacation; it’s a renewal of his profound relationship with the natural wonders that have captured his heart.
Naito Takashi’s 103rd arrival to the Maldives was met with a warm and heartfelt welcome from none other than the Tourism Minister himself, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. This gesture symbolizes the deep appreciation the Maldivian people have for their loyal and devoted visitors. The ceremony held aboard the M/V Blue of the Fun Azul Fleet was a fitting tribute to a traveler who has become an honorary ambassador of the Maldives.
The M/V Blue, Fun Azul Fleet, holds special significance for Naito Takashi. As an avid diver, he has found his perfect companion in this cruise boat specialized in diving charters. The vessel offers schedules tailored to explore the best dive spots around the Maldives’ islands, making it an ideal partner for a diving enthusiast like Naito Takashi. The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives have witnessed countless underwater escapades orchestrated by this intrepid traveler.
The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has lauded Naito Takashi’s enduring passion for the nation’s beauty. Their tweet acknowledging his multiple visits serves as a testament to his unique and cherished relationship with the country. He has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the Maldives, from its pristine beaches to its vibrant marine life, and has undoubtedly contributed to the thriving tourism industry.
Naito Takashi’s story also reflects the profound impact that travel can have on an individual’s life. His unwavering commitment to exploring the Maldives has not only enriched his own experiences but has also brought attention to the natural wonders of Maldives. It stands as a reminder that the act of traveling is not just about ticking off destinations from a bucket list; it’s about forming connections, fostering appreciation, and creating lasting memories.
As Naito Takashi continues his journey through the Maldives, his story resonates as an inspiration to fellow travelers and a tribute to the unyielding allure of this island paradise. His 103rd visit is not just a numerical milestone; it’s a celebration of an extraordinary bond between a traveler and a destination, a bond that has grown stronger with each passing year and promises to endure for years to come.
Amari Raaya Maldives opens its gates to paradise
In a grand celebration of luxury and nature’s wonders, Amari Raaya Maldives resort has officially opened its doors, welcoming its first guests to experience a slice of paradise in the Maldives. The exclusive event was attended by the resort’s management team, as well as Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, the developer behind this magnificent project.
Nestled on a pristine natural island in the heart of the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, Amari Raaya promises to be a sanctuary for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape amidst the archipelago’s breathtaking beauty. From the moment guests arrived via Manta Air seaplane, they were greeted with warm hospitality and a taste of Maldivian culture, as they were presented with traditional cultural items and treated to mesmerizing Maldivian dances.
Atul Chordia, the visionary behind Panchshil Realty, and Yuthachai Charanachitta ONYX Hospitality Group’s CEO marked the official opening of the resort by cutting the ribbon, signifying the culmination of a labor of love and dedication to creating a unique haven for luxury travelers.
With 187 villas offering a variety of luxurious experiences, Amari Raaya ensures that every guest’s stay is truly exceptional. Visitors can choose from an array of accommodation options, including the Beach Villas, Beach Pool Villas, and interconnecting Family Beach Villas, perfect for creating cherished memories with loved ones.
For those seeking unparalleled luxury and seclusion, the Ocean Villas and Ocean Pool Villas provide panoramic views of the azure waters teeming with marine life. Sunset enthusiasts can revel in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldivian dusk from the privacy of their villas, opting for the Sunset Ocean Villas or Sunset Ocean Pool Villas, promising an unforgettable experience.
Amari Raaya Maldives goes beyond offering captivating villas; it has curated an extraordinary culinary journey for its guests. With eight distinct dining options, visitors can embark on a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. From the signature Amaya Food Gallery, serving famous street food and hawker delights, to the rooftop bar Ampers&nd, where guests can savor sunset snacks and cocktails, the resort promises to delight all epicureans. Poolside Italian favorites, freshly caught seafood infused with Maldivian and Asian flavors, and the fun and playful experience of enjoying mobile snacks and drinks served from a bus all add to the culinary magic of the resort.
In the evenings, guests can find a sense of community and immerse themselves in the local culture through live music, traditional Boduberu nights, and regular cultural events and festivities, making every moment at Amari Raaya Maldives an enriching and memorable one.
Amari Raaya Maldives is developed by Panchshil Realty, a name synonymous with excellence in luxury real estate in India. The resort is managed by Onyx Hospitality, renowned for its exceptional and personalized hospitality experiences.
With its official opening, Amari Raaya Maldives invites travelers from around the world to discover the allure of the Maldives in unparalleled comfort and style. As guests arrive at this oasis of luxury and natural splendor, they are sure to find themselves enchanted by the timeless beauty of the islands and immersed in an experience that will linger in their hearts forever.
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