Soneva Fushi

Baa Atoll, The Atolls, Maldives Book from

Reviewed by Liz Williams
An escapist’s dream resort: eco-luxury, unquestionable service and rare privacy on one of the largest islands in the Maldives
Set on the idyllic and otherwise uninhabited island of Kunfunadhoo, Soneva Fushi was the first Robinson Crusoe style hideaway in the Maldives. Created by Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, whose vision was 'intelligent luxury', it has been designed to have minimal impact on the environment. The island's natural beauty has certainly been retained. From above, Soneva Fushi is hidden among the trees; thatched rooms are set apart, even bathrooms have a garden. Natural indigenous materials are used throughout, giving a simple, rustic-chic look (the stereo, TV, DVD player and other accessories are disguised behind coconut wood and water hyacinth). Add to the equation thoughtful personal touches and a dreamy spa for total rejuvenation, and this is eco-friendly luxury at its most memorable.

This is a place to step ashore, kick off your shoes (you won’t need them again until you leave) and leave the real world behind. Now owned by Six Senses, it has collected almost every award going - and it's not hard to see why.

Highs

  • The approach by seaplane: spectacular views of sand-fringed atolls in a turquoise sea
  • The friendly personal service and attention to detail
  • The world-class diving at the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll and, for us, being able to snorkel a 'drop-off' just metres from our door
  • The back-to-nature feel combined with subtle luxury, perfect for families and romantics alike
  • The layout of the resort - all rooms and villas are discreetly tucked into verdant jungle and most have their own stretch of white-sand beach. At times you can imagine it’s your own island!

Lows

  • Having personal preferences pre-empted is slightly disconcerting (at first!) - a personal 'guest officer' is at your beck and call 24 hours a day
  • Beyond diving, watersports and excursions to other islands, there is little to do other than relax and be pampered
  • Being the Maldives, it isn't cheap
  • Some feedback suggests the furnishings need updating

Best time to go

Depends on priorities. October to April are the months when any rain is least likely, with Feb-April being the hottest and driest period of all. This naturally means more visitors and higher prices during these months. June to October are the monsoon months, when rain is more likely, although the islands are still warm and weeks can often go by with no sign of it. The European holiday in August can send prices up even during this time. The Christmas/New Year period of course sees them rocket. Divers should refer to the general Maldives section for general guidance - or dive books for more detailed information.

Our top tips

Make time to take an early morning walk or jog along the island’s deserted beaches (stopping off in well-positioned hammocks en route) - the colours and peacefulness are unrivaled.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Eco
Honeymoon
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 65
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
  • Observatory
Room: Crusoe Suite

Rooms

One of Soneva Fushi's most attractive features is its rooms, tucked away in the trees like a little home. All are warmly inviting, with natural materials hiding luxurious accessories. There are several grades of accommodation, ranging from the various 1-bed beach front villas through to the 2-Bed Crusoe Villa with pool.

Each category gets bigger and progressively more swish - in some cases the accommodation becomes split level too - but all rooms are lovely with kingsize beds and open-air garden bathrooms.

In ours the huge double bed was draped in soft muslin to keep non-existent mossies at bay. Wood, bamboo and rattan predominated, interspersed with colourful cushions. Champagne greets every guest, there's an extremely tempting minibar, and the telephone has direct dial buttons to the Head Chef (very important!), Dive School and Spa. In the bathroom, complete with big fluffy towels, bio-degradable lotions and stepping stones into the garden, there was a powerful ‘open’ shower, plus a bath under overhanging thatch.

Other nice touches include coconut pots; mats made from logs; a bristly hedgehog at the door, and a small urn to wash sand off (all available in the shop). All rooms have a private outdoor seating area leading directly to the beach.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The cuisine at Soneva Fushi wouldn't be out of place in a gourmet restaurant in a cosmopolitan city. And the fact that it's being served on a remote island only adds to the experience.

High quality ingredients, flown in regularly, are supplemented by the organic garden and a wide selection of fresh fish. The central Kana restaurant serves Western and Asian favourites, with regular buffets. The Me Dhuniye (sunset) restaurant’s fusion cuisine, served in a cosy beach setting, includes a weekly 6-course meal with specially selected wines. There is also the Mihiree Mitha lunch, an international deli experience.

For private dining, room service includes many favourites and you can eat out on your private terrace. More notably, the chef will do his utmost to provide any personal requests (including any special diets). One of the highlights of our trip was having our ideal meal cooked for us in the Sunset Restaurant - it was amazing.

There are also sandbank BBQs, desert island picnics, sunrise breakfasts on Turtle Beach… something for every day of the week.

For drinks, the main bar is open until the last guest leaves. Sunset sees champagne on the sandbank, and even private cocktail parties. And the impressive wine cellar boasts a truly international selection, tapped into upon request; with a weekly wine tasting on Sunday.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Windsurfers, hobie-cats, canoes, water-skiing and wake-boarding

  • Supervised snorkelling to the house reef. Alternatively, Soleni Dive School offers top-level tuition (PADI), with small dive groups

  • The Six Senses Spa is a true retreat, with an endless array of relaxation and pampering treatments including massage, acupuncture, reflexology, holistic, thalasso, affinoderm and Bach remedies, plus an air-conditioned fitness centre

  • You can also have massage lessons, with two 90-minute sessions

  • Weekly cooking classes (subject to a minimum of 4 guests), led by the resort's chef, demonstrate simple recipes utilising local and organic ingredients

  • Regular cultural excursions to nearby islands; you'll see around local villages and perhaps schools too

  • Chill out in your room- there's a library of CDs, videos and board games to borrow

  • Ball games, including tennis on the clay court, volleyball, table tennis and boules – plus badminton

  • Bicycles are provided for getting around more quickly

  • Take a Dhoani sunrise and sunset cruise

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and there is a huge range of activities for the little ones to try out in the fabulous Den (kids club, which is open 12 hours/day and is free to use), and the castaway style villas are the stuff of fantasy with private butler service, open-air private garden bathrooms, and private outside sitting areas - many have a private pool. Arriving by sea plane and staying here would be a magical and memorable holiday for families! Bicycles are provided for all villas.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The villas have space for at least one extra person and many can interconnect. For those who can really go to town, the Soneva Fushi Villa Suite with pool and Tree House, and 2-Bed Crusoe Villa with pool have the most space. There are also beautiful beach front villas available.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots available on request
  • Bicycle with training wheels

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

The Den (new summer 2015) has two pools, zip wire, water slide, pirate ship, lego room, dress up room, DJ corner, kitchen for cooking classes and dining, mocktail bar, indoor cinema, a light and temperature controlled baby sleeping area. Marine biologists and waste-to-wealth specialists run occasional activities. The Den is open 12 hours a day and is free of charge

Children's meals:

  • In Nine restaurant, three course kids menu to choose from that includes soup, fish fingers, spaghetti carbonara, chicken breast, fried rice, prawn kebabs, chocolate cake or raspberry macaroon see Rates
  • By the beach has children's collection more Asian-style snack menus of Shio salmon, stir-fried noodles, tempura, tropical fruit
  • High chairs

Kids Activities on site:

  • Quiz time
  • Sand Bank Cocktail - join friends and family to watch the sunset, build a sandcastle or play some frees bee
  • Treasure Hunts
  • Scarecrow workshop at the jungle club
  • Dancing and gymnastics classes
  • Children’s corner - decorate a box to save holiday treasures in
  • Cooking classes
  • Movie night in the Library under the observatory - popcorn and drinks supplied
  • Reduce Reuse Recycle – Create and make something out of recycled material
  • Face painting
  • Make postcards for family and friends
  • Find your own coconut, drink it and turn it into a bowl for your ice cream
  • Mini Olympics on the beach
  • Spa Session for kids: paint nails, have a shoulder massage, try some temporary body art
  • Water sports - snorkelling gear supplied
  • Kids' yoga
  • Swimming

Distances:

  • Airport: 35 minutes
  • Hospital: 7 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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