Paradise at the flick of a switch

August 18, 2017 in MALDIVES | Comments (0)

Returning to the tropical island of Soneva Fushi after more than three years, it seemed as laid back as ever. But there was a new special switch on the wall of the family villa.

It brought  us  closer to paradise in the way intended by the visionary Sonu and Eva Shivdasani…

The Maldives’ first barefoot luxury resort was founded 1995 and it still evokes feelings of paradise. It is not just that you have a palm fringed villa on a white beach by a luminous lagoon, with your own hammock in your jungle-wrapped garden, attended to by your warm and thoughtful butler Mr or Ms Friday….

It’s not just the vast buffets with mountains of fresh organic choices, or the complimentary icecream room open all day, or all the other generous details.

It is that you can have a holiday away from all the buzz and agitation of our modern world at the flick of a switch (or check up on the world when you need to.) and feel the peace of a coral island.

There are many unlabelled switches in the villa but this magic switch is clearly labelled wifi. A few years ago you didn’t get wifi in the villas – now you can switch it on or off – especially useful when you have kids in the second bedroom of your adorable villa.

The 11 year old  already chats on Snapchat and launches videos on Musical.ly. These are rather addictive pastimes – moreover her friends in Sweden unaware of the time distance were shooting pictures of slime and other diversions to her in the middle of her night – so her initial joy and energy vanished and she slept on her sunbed rather than getting in the water to snorkel over the fairyland of colourful fish near our villa.

Until I noticed the switch, and after bedtime there was no more wifi to wake her up..

What a difference to her energy level…

Energy and harmony

The idealistic owners Sonu and Eva have done their best to make up for the shortfalls of the modern world. To give couples and families an earth time, and a harmony with nature. They have carried out a plethora of eco friendly measures like using sustainable wood and thatch in the villas, organic food, waste recycling – even turning old glass bottles into artwork and banning water in plastic bottles. So of course they have also resisted too much electronic interference.

While other kids clubs in the Maldives have laid on the computer games and electronic noticeboards, at the magnificent new den kids club, these are absent.

In their absence old-fashioned hands-on creativity is unleashed. A whole lego room, art room, dressing up room, and of course a little adrenaline with slides into the pool and hands on football game where other kids join the 11 year old in smashing goals with lots of High Fives to celebrate

It’s a nurturing place too, with dedicated staff.

 

” A wonderful kids club – I handed the baby over and a few seconds later she was asleep” said a film star we had met without realizing she was anything except a charming person and mother.

Only when the open air movie house put on one of her movies did we realize.

Which brings me to another point about Soneva Fushi and it’s earthiness.

Everyone dresses casually most of the time. At the cocktail party on the sandbank you may see some fancy finery – but almost everyone will be barefoot. If you really planned to wear your Gucci shoes your travel agent didn’t inform you properly. They will be charmingly whipped away from you and put in a bag on arrival – and though you get them back, like everyone else you will be walking barefoot and wriggling your toes in the sand, which is the stuff the island is made over.

 Getting back to earth

But though everyone kind of looks equal. they are not. There are some exceedingly wealthy people here, pleased to get back to earth, especially families.

After all the disappointments and broken promises of family life on the frontline of business, government or entertainment they need earth time with their families and other beloveds.

Not just two generations but three or four, there are some vast villas like resorts within resorts where intimacy is nurtured with near self sufficiency. Almost half of the villas have 3 or more bedrooms – up to 9 bedrooms.

All on the beach naturally….

Though our 11 year old had been enjoying our little pool in our family villa suite, she gave a sigh of envy when we looked over villa 15.

The slide from the upper floor into the lagoon pool was a source of wonder, so was the gym.. But then do was a banyan tree growing up in the middle of the house.

The jungle is as important in the Soneva Fushi experience as the beach, the villa pools, and the sea.

In conceiving a life at Soneva Fushi that would make up for the deficiency of the modern city experience, Sonu and Eva visualized just this. Kids cycling or walking around the jungle in perfect safety with a sense of wonder.

 

“Away from the nanny, the chauffeur or perhaps the security men,” said Sonu. “They can feel freedom and adventure”

 

For adults too the jungle creates an added dimension – back to remembering childhood perhaps, with a sense of mystery from winding paths – and a sketchy map that ensures you get lost a few times and slow down.

If you have tiny tots who can’t cycle themselves simply take over a large tricycle where the little one can be loaded. And wind through the jungle barefoot.

Soneva Fushi is a large island by Maldivian standards which makes the jungle experience exceptional. among the tropical leaves and lianes it is alive with little creatures like lizards, water hens, rabbits, and flying foxes that will spread their wings over the sky of your jungle bathroom at twilight. While coming from the beach into your jungle garden are hermit crabs. They will cooperatively drag their borrowed shells into a sand castle, to add to the thrill for the youngsters.

Other experiences the kids and grown up kids will never forget are the famous Soneva signatures of ice cream parlour open all day, Cinema Paradiso where you lie on loungers staring up at the stars munching popcorn as you wait for a movie to start.

Then there are the surprises, like a dinner arranged on the beach, or after a sunset cruise (where with normal luck you see dolphins popping out of the ocean)  you may get dropped on a pier where there is live music and canapes, and then walk along a beautifully lit path  to find more delicacies in a forest clearing.

 

 Magic’s bottomline

Behind all the magic lie two solid things. A commitment to the environment with waste management, water treatment etc., and true luxury hotel quality – with excellent food and beverage, well maintsined villas.  and effortless service. There are butlers for every villa who will help you with every possible problem that emerges – like falling off your bike (to name a true incident and bringing instant medical care to me).

A range of exceptional experiences are usually added on to feel you have touched all the elements the Msldives is known for (extra fee if you have not managed to get some added value).  A dolphin cruise. Snorkeling and picnic on a deserted island. Manta ray and whale shark swims within season (May to Sep).

But to tell the truth there is good snorkeling on the house reef – which is some 50 metres out, or  easily reached from the sunset bar. The lovely film star I wrote of above brought her family there on  my advice, including kids and grandmother.

Great for kids….

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Great also for grandmothers and grandfathers…great grandmothers and great grandfathers.

And of course, for honeymooner who want to get back to nature…


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