Enriching body and mind

Enriching body and mind

Enriching body and mind



A mind-enriching blue glow on the beach at night.

Pioneers of sustainable barefoot luxury, Soneva resorts in the Maldives and Thailand combine personalised luxurious stays with programmes for positive change

There are many definitions of luxury. For Sonu Shivdasani OBE, the CEO and joint Creative Director of Soneva resorts in the Maldives and Thailand, “true luxury lies not in extravagance but in rarity”. It is for this reason that Soneva offers exceptional experiences seldom found anywhere else. They include stargazing in the resort observatory with the resident astronomer, snorkelling with a marine biologist, sailing to private castaway picnics on uninhabited islands and attending exclusive events with international authors, Michelin-starred chefs and Olympic athletes.

Another definition of luxury could be knowing you are making a positive difference to the world even as you relax and indulge. Soneva enables this through its pioneering conscious-travel approach and the work of the Soneva Foundation. Thanks to a 2 per cent environmental levy on all guest stays, the UK-registered foundation invests in a range of initiatives that help the resorts offset carbon emissions. The Soneva Foundation supports the resort’s own coral nursery and environmental and social initiatives around the world, including over 500 clean-water projects, supporting food security in Bangladesh and planting 5.2 million trees in Thailand, Mozambique, Nepal and the Philippines.

Soneva’s two Maldives resorts are remote yet accessible parcels of paradise, featuring beachfront villas with ocean views. Soneva Fushi also has eight one- and two-bedroom Water Reserves – residences built over the water, each with a pool deck and slide so guests can plunge straight into the crystal waters below. Culinary experiences include dining amid the treetops at the world’s first zipline fine-dining restaurant, and guests can enjoy bespoke wellness programmes, family entertainment and Barefoot Guardian butler service. On Soneva Jani, as well as beachfront villas are over-water residences, lush tropical gardens and natural wellness programmes, plus exceptional dining. Soneva Kiri is the resort in Thailand, and Soneva has announced an “ultra-luxury concept” – highly personalised in a remote tropical location.

With the Maldives on the frontline of climate change, sustainability is at the heart of Soneva. All Soneva resorts are carbon neutral. Plastic straws have been banned for almost 30 years and plastic bottles and branded water since 2008, with the money saved donated to international clean-water projects. One pioneering project involves coral conservation and restoration. It has led to the creation of AquaTerra, an education and research centre at Soneva Fushi featuring one of the world’s largest coral nurseries. The centre uses the latest technology to support the lab’s plans to produce 100,000 corals each year. The corals are grown then planted out onto local reefs, where they protect against coastal erosion and high waves, and provide homes for marine species. Guests can tour the facility, sponsor coral beds and see coral gardens on expert-led snorkelling adventures. “Our commitment to coral conservation reflects our belief in the interconnectedness of all living beings and ecosystems,” says Sonu.

“It’s a rarity to find pleasure while actively contributing to the environment,” he adds, “but we have blended seemingly opposing concepts, enabling them to coexist harmoniously. Every aspect of our offering is fresh, genuine and designed to evoke a profound emotional response. We want guests to leave our resorts rejuvenated, inspired and enriched. We want them to carry the spirit of Soneva with them and share their remarkable journey with others, as advocates of sustainable luxury and conscious travel.”