For me, blue is the colour of luxury. Deep azures, soothing baby blues, sparkling sapphires and turquoises, comforting indigos—they remind me of an island getaway where all I have to contemplate is whether my first swim of the day should be in an infinity pool or the ocean. So like many others I had never associated the Maldives with healing and wellness but here I was at Soneva Fushi, giving my shot at it.
The heartland of good life
No shoes, no news.’ That’s the philosophy of Soneva Fushi – and, in fact, all Soneva properties. From the moment our seaplane drops us off on the powder-white sand, our shoes are off and returned to you at the end of your stay. From then on, we make our way (barefoot) around the island by bicycle, getting lost Robinson Crusoe-style.
I love how the environment is at the heart of everything Soneva does. All buildings are built, where possible, to fit in with the existing nature. You’ll find palm trees poking through the roofs and abundant wildlife – there are bunny rabbits everywhere. We loved tropical island living at its most chic and comfortable, which is Soneva Fushi.
Think vast living spaces and views towards the sunrise or sunset, a great pool, with the beach at our doorstep. We loved how details everywhere celebrate the location – so you’ll find portholes in villa floors so you can watch the sting-rays below and ladders which lower you down into the ocean from your terrace. Villas come with bikes so you can whisk around carefree and the widespread eco initiatives are ground-breaking and work towards educating communities with the main goal being to preserve the region.
A new wave of wellness
As a wellness junkie, I was impressed by ow Soneva Soul embeds pillars ranging from movement, sleep, yoga and meditation programmes; wellness and lifestyle products; a global network of acclaimed wellness specialists; and innovative, regenerative modalities and medical services and isn’t just a superficial wellness journey but a transformative one. Linked by raised walkways that wind among the trees, the three-level complex is designed in perfect harmony with its stunning setting on the eastern side of the island. Complementing the existing Over-water Spa at The Gathering, it includes open-air treatment rooms, consultation suites, therapeutic biomodulation rooms, a state-of-the-art gym and juice bar. A yoga pavilion and meditation platform sit high above the treeline, offering 360-degree views across the turquoise private lagoon.
Based upon outcomes that target guests’ specific needs, the treatment menu at each Soneva Soul unites traditional wellness philosophies, such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbalism and medicinal mushrooms, with cutting-edge treatment methodologies and therapeutic biomodulation, which will include heart rate variability testing, platelet-rich plasma (PRP therapy), nutrient IV therapy, cryotherapy, ozone therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Each Soneva Soul wellness journey can start at any point – whether an individual is looking to kick-start a healthier lifestyle, heal following an illness or injury, improve their physical or mental performance, or simply relax and indulge.
Unfortunately due to our short stay we did not have the opportunity to try these wellness therapies but particularly special was the 90 minutes full body reflexology session by wellness expert and world traveller Dr Alex Scrimgeour who took me through how he learnt the art in Vietnam by a guru and now helps a wide-range of people overcome pain and illness and achieve both physical and emotional well-being. He works both as an acupuncturist, as a massage therapist with a speciality in Dien Chan Facial Reflexology, and with mentoring in qigong, breath-work, and stress-management. Moreover he works from private clinics in East and West London and is regularly invited to many of the world’s leading spas and wellness centres. And for good reason, I was blown away by the one session with him that combined various massage techniques to release tension throughout the head, neck and face alongside the stimulation of reflex points and areas. The treatment had a powerful effect on many aspects of my body and mind, creating an optimum environment for rebalancing the nervous, hormonal, and circulatory systems and also held the potential for release of old mental-emotional patterns and conditioning.
Food for the soul
In terms of dining, the choice of dining here is almost overwhelming – with 12 different restaurants to choose from. You can zip-line your way to your main meal at Flying Sauces or taste inventive cuisine at Fresh in the Garden, where championing produce grown in the kitchen gardens (found underneath the tree-top restaurant) is the norm.
We love how award-winning Maldivian chef Sobah Abdullah is championing traditional Maldivian dishes and elevating them for a fine-dining clientele. At Out of the Blue, he fuses local ingredients within Vietnamese, Japanese and Indonesian-style dishes – from tuna with ponzu and guacamole to spicy lamb chops cooked on the robata grill.
It was at Mihiree Mithaa that I had the best Lamb Ravioli and an Indian meal beyond comprehension, from fried fish to biryani, everything tantalizing teasing my tastebuds. Particularly special are Soneva’s ubiquitous ice cream and chocolate rooms that are still etched in our memory as a favourite.
Our favorite aspect is the group’s Slow Life principles that have pioneered sustainable culinary initiatives in the resort’s kitchens, creating farm-to-table experiences and harnessing Soneva Jani’s abundant organic gardens to support the circular, ‘Waste to Wealth’ economy aligning perfectly with the new wellness concept. In Soneva Soul, the group has created a wellness brand that combines thousands of years of ancient healing with modern science and medicine to reconnect mind, body and soul. The impact of even two nights here is such that it’s impossible to stop smiling…
Note: The critic was invited by the hotel but all opinions are her own.
Where: Kunfunadhoo Island, Eydhafushi, Maldives
Pricing: The Soneva Soul experience starts from a minimum 3-night stay at Soneva Fushi or Soneva Jani starting from USD 3000/Rs 2,40,000.