Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives

The original barefoot desert island Maldivian retreat, Soneva Fushi Resort is an eco-chic jungle hideaway with Robinson Crusoe-style villas along a white sandy shore. A scenic 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé, the dense tropical vegetation of the interior is surrounded by a magnificent UNESCO-protected coral reef.

 

Designed with locally sourced natural materials to blend seamlessly into its surroundings, this boutique resort is an eco pioneer, with a vegetable garden, recycling and solar power plant, and a glass-blowing studio where guests can turn waste into works of art.

 

Soneva Fushi’s philosophy is “no news, no shoes and no pretensions”. We’d add “no worries” too, thanks to the intuitive service provided by the Mr. and Ms. Friday butlers assigned to your villa. They seem to know what you want before you’ve even thought of it.

 

What sets Soneva Fushi Resort apart is its well thought out guest experiences. Alongside the classic kayaking and sunset Dhoni cruises are star-gazing with the resident astronomer in the resort’s Observatory and snorkelling accompanied by a marine biologist. Also on offer are desert island picnics, an open-air cinema and a fabulous weekly sunset cocktail reception on its own private sandbank, a few minutes’ boat ride away. A stellar Six Senses Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments, expert yoga tuition and meditation therapy.

 

Soneva Fushi is an excellent choice for families. Everyone cycles around the island, and hideaways have been created for children to explore and restaurants have kids menus, high chairs and drawing materials. The world-class kids club has The Den, a whimsical two-floor open-air playground with a Nemo-shaped toddler pool, a saltwater pool with a slide and a pirate ship as well as a musical instruments, a dressing-up area and a bar for mixing mocktails. Babysitting can be arranged for those aged under four. Babies cots come with mosquito nets and parents can borrow everything from prams to monitors.

 

Soneva Fushi’s 65 thatched-roof villas range from a playful one-bedroom Crusoe villa to the Private Reserve (with 4, 6 and 9 bedrooms to comfortably accommodate your whole tribe). Breathtakingly beautiful (and highly original) each villa is surrounded by verdant jungle (with geckos and flying foxes) paces from the beach. Mixing authentic island craftsmanship and locally sourced materials with luxurious home comforts, they have driftwood furniture, billowing mosquito nets and discreet technology such as televisions concealed inside vintage trunks, and al fresco bathrooms bigger than most London flats. Terraces come complete with hammocks and daybeds and most have a private pool. As part of Soneva’s commitment to protect the fragile coral reef there are no overwater villas.

Mihiree Mitha (meaning “Here it is”) is the relaxed setting for a leisurely breakfast or lunch with your toes in the sand. Overwater lunch spot Out of the Blue, perched on wooden stilts over the ocean has 30 The resort has nine dining options. With chunky wooden furniture set right on the beach, top-tier chefs visiting throughout the year. Its diverse menu includes grilled seafood, teppanyaki, wood-fired pizzas, fresh sushi and secret chefs’ menus.

 

Unique dining experiences in the evening range from Fresh in the Garden, a treetop restaurant high enough over the jungle canopy, accessed by an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge to Down To Earth’s buffet on an uninhabited island, a 15 minute boat trip away.

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