Inside the Soneva Fushi Resort in The Maldives
If you were hoping to stay at one of the Anantara Resorts in the Maldives, sorry, but you're out of luck as the hotel has been booked out by a Saudi prince for the next month. But there's another option to try, Soneva Fushi, one of the island's sustainable luxury resorts. Here with a full review of his stay this past December, is TeddyWorcester who we followed on his Great American Road Trip a few summers back. Enjoy and fingers crossed, no Saudi princes book this hotel up!
Can a Resort Be Both Sustainable and Luxurious? The Soneva Fushi Is
The Maldives is one of the most remote nations in the world, comprised of 26 atolls and situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Before the ‘70s, tourism barely even existed in the region but in the last 30 years, over 100 resorts have cropped up, playing a significant role in the country’s GDP.
Now, the world’s most prolific hotel brands have leased their own atolls from the Maldivian government and built luxury resorts. With brands like the Taj, Shangri-La, and Four Seasons, it’s tempting to choose a property that is “safe,” where you know you’ll get luxury and service. However, if you know anything about the current environmental state of the Maldives, you may opt for a resort that prides itself on sustainability. Climate change is real and imminent, with rising water levels threatening to engulf atolls and increasing water temperatures killing off fragile coral.
With plans to head to the Maldives, I searched for a resort with a strong emphasis on sustainability and I am incredibly fortunate to have stumbled upon Soneva Fushi. The 65-villa resort sits on a 1,400 meter long island in the Baa Atoll. I booked a “Soneva Fushi Villa with pool,” which will set you back about $1,243/night. This rate does not include the seaplane transfer from Malé to the resort, which will cost you $550 per person (roundtrip).
The 30-minute flight from Malé, the main island, gave us a stunning aerial view of the countless tiny islands, and was certainly worth the additional cost (not that we had a choice). We landed next to a tiny dock in the middle of the water, dubbed the Soneva Fushi International Airport. Our butler Mohamed greeted us on a boat and took us to the island. Upon arrival, we had a brief tour and went straight to our villa. No checking in, no crazy forms. There was only one rule for the week: no news, no shoes.
The Soneva Fushi Villa was spacious and comfortably accommodated four adults, with one queen bed and two twin beds. They designed the villas to feel natural and rustic – everything is covered with wood, even the A/C remote control. The beachfront villa has a decent sized saltwater pool that is candlelit every evening during the turndown service.
The large outdoor bathroom is the best feature of the villa, with a large bathtub that sits next to a rock wall waterfall and large ankle deep pool. There is also one large shower and a second rinsing shower. My first impression was that an outdoor bathroom lacked privacy but it is laid out in a way that is completely private and protected from outside eyes. In fact, with only 65 villas on an island of this size, the villas are quite spaced out, offering a great amount of privacy.
The island is really quite large, relative to other island resorts in the Maldives. As a result, Soneva features an extensive range of amenities, such as an observatory, four restaurants, a wine cellar, library, and a spa/gym. The main restaurant even had complimentary chocolate and cheese rooms, with a wide selection of cheeses from all over the world. Our favorite hangout spot was Bar(a)bara, a small bar and restaurant at the end of a dock, jutting into the Indian Ocean. Netted sunbathing beds line the end of the dock, where you can relax and enjoy a cocktail and lunch. It’s not unusual to see dolphins and hundreds of different species of fish from this spot.
Soneva is a true island experience, void of the sterile feel that often accompanies chain resorts. It is no surprise that Paul McCartney and Madonna have frequented the resort in years past. In our short five-day stay, the service and amenities far exceeded our expectations. With a boutique feel and top-notch service, consider Soneva if you’re booking the Maldives and want a unique unforgettable experience.
[All photos: Teddy for HotelChatter]