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Jungle bathroom in our villa on the beach

I wrote this in 2014 about my beloved Soneva Fushi – one of the five star resorts I had the privilege to enjoy in the Maldives. My later trip (July 2017) is among the posts.


Surrounded by turquoise sea, living coral and white sand, Soneva Fushi is the original Crusoe island hideaway. The villas are hidden amidst greenery and the island is a jungle with a labyrinth of paths. Water hens and lizards dart across them. Bicycles weave along them, passing gardeners collecting coconuts, and you in the thinnest of cottons, barefoot. Most probably lost on your way to the spa or your villa tucked away on its own private beach.


Getting lost is part of the plan. It encourages people to slow down, to forget their other lives…


Shoes are confiscated on arrival in playful fashion by your Friday – as your butler is named. Crusoe style and eco-sensitivity have been notable since inception of Soneva Fushi in 1995, named after owners Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva. Sonu was born in England to Indian parents and educated at Eton & Oxford. Eva is a Swedish fashion model turned designer also devoted to what they call SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences).


Catching Sonu Shivdasani at the cocktail party on the white sandbank lapped by brilliant aquamarine sea, we found him articulate and passionate on a certain subject:  luxury and children.


“What is luxury?” Sonu asked rhetorically. “It is something rare. For so many children who come to Soneva Fushi their life at home is caught between the nanny, the body guard, being driven to school…


But here they have the luxury of freedom and adventure. Here the children are not dumped at the kids club. We let the kids take the parents to the kids club, not the other way around. It is their place.”


The kids club, The Den, inspires activities all over the island. Pirate ships out of coconuts among other things…


“This is a natural paradise for the whole family. How life should really be, safe and free,” added a British mother Emily Hallett, barefoot in evening dress, her two children playing serenely among the cocktail-sipping adults.


“When we told the children they could cycle anywhere by themselves, anytime, no more waiting for mummy or daddy to finish their wine, their eyes sparkled.


“And the staff seem to genuinely love children. Our waitress at breakfast promised to take the kids snorkeling – and she did. For our long holiday I would not dare to change from Soneva Fushi as I am afraid we will be terribly disappointed.”


This is a place to discover real life again (not virtual reality). Time for watersports, picnics on a desert island, dolphin cruises, underwater discovery, even diving courses for children. Or tennis on a nice court surrounded by jungle.



For extended families, this is a great time for bonding the generations. Residence villas offer resorts within the resort, tucked away under the palms – with from 3 to 8 bedrooms. Your own spa is usually part of the deal with massage beds, gym and sauna or steam room. Plus your own kitchen, where you can instal your own chef.


Little families with one child may be satisfied with the original double storey Crusoe Villa but there are plenty of two and three bedroom villas. Some with pools, though all villas have their own beach.


The delightful Crusoe villa has a fairytale tower thatched with coconut fronds.  All villas have shaggy roofs.  The look is quaintly rustic and whimsical with crooked poles and garden bathrooms with sandy floors or water features. Modern amenities are there if you want them; including aircon in the bedroom


Bottles of water crowd over the minibar with old fashioned jam jar technology –  from the Soneva Fushi desalination plant. Some simple things are very sophisticated…


Almost everywhere you can dine with your toes in the sand – always with total freshness, choice and flavour. Lavish breakfast and lunch buffets. A la carte dinners and theme buffets. At Fresh in the Garden, one of four restaurants, you might choose to wear chic sandals, but just as well dine barefoot. This a la carte restaurant is reached by a swing bridge over the organic garden.


Next suggested stop from here is the Observatory nearby where a qualified astononomer teaches all – both adults and children the night skies over the Maldives.


Next night, inspired, you might choose to lie on a sunbed and study the glittering heavens while waiting for a 5 course Japanese degustation menu at On the Beach.

And while on the indulgent side, nights out on Fushi could take you to the open air movie house. With popcorn. Or to the chocolate room open all day till 10 pm, or the ice cream corner ever beckoning. But the evening must absolutely begin at the sunset bar Ba(a)bara.


Rarity is the ultimate luxury. Even in the choosing of wines, Shivdasani spends a lot of time seeking out choice labels – his latest find is a producer that bottles only 100 a year. So Soneva Fushi is also a great venue for couples.


Here you get delirious on pure beauty, dine privately on the beach in the moonlight, breakfast on the sandbank, picnic on a deserted island, hide away on your own beach, adore your private villa paradise, perhaps with a swing in the garden bathroom.


Fushi is freedom, romance and sophistication, found in the heart of pure simplicity, warm service and a light footprint on the “last paradise on earth”.


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