From incredible experiences swimming with manta rays and sampling cutting-edge cuisine, to unwinding in a world-class spa and making memories that I'll cherish forever, I recently returned from an unforgettable luxury holiday to the Maldives. I stayed at the exceptional Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani a duo of luxury resorts from the Soneva brand that each promise stunning surroundings, luxury living and a genuine regard for the precious local environment.
Surrounded by the shimmering turquoise waters of the resort's private lagoon, Soneva Fushi embodies beachside living at its very finest. As my first experience staying at Soneva Fushi, I was blown away by the fantastic quality of service and the way the friendly staff made me feel completely at home during my stay in our beautiful thatched hideaway. It comes as no surprise that Soneva Fushi has an ultra-high rate of return guests, with 'no shoes, no news' motto which really encourages a casual atmosphere and immerses you in the experience.
As part of its sustainability initiative, Soneva Fushi operates the pioneering 'Eco-Centro' complex that aims to introduce creative new ways of waste management to end the hazardous open burning of waste. Here, they make compost, recycle aluminium cans and make them into door handles, use the coconut oil for the spa, and coconut shell is turned into charcoal for the pizza oven and beach barbecues. The resort recycles 90% of their solid waste which is amazing!
The way to my heart is through my stomach and I got to experience some amazing food in some of the resort's renowned dining spots. One of my favourites was the stunning 'Fresh in the Garden' restaurant, which is suspended over the large gardens and accessed via a rope bridge. The views were amazing, but the highlight (of course) was the food! I chose fresh burrata with watermelon gazpacho for my starter, followed by roasted pork belly with apple for my main - both were divine! After dinner, we visited the Observatory and spent some time with the resident astronomer learning all about the different constellations with one of the largest telescopes in the Maldives.
Not only does Soneva Fushi offer some incredible restaurants and dining experiences, but also complimentary, dedicated 24/7 chocolate, ice cream, and cheese rooms that are perfect for a quick bite to satisfy any craving. We spent so much time in here after dinner and in the afternoons picking out our favourites (mine was the handmade salted caramel truffles!) or having a quick snack on the huge variety of cheeses, cold meats, chocolates, and ice cream. What more could you ask for?
The array of experiences available at Soneva Fushi is truly extraordinary, with complimentary watersports, bespoke picnic adventures, and the soothing Six Senses Spa just the beginning! I jumped on a boat to Hanifaru Bay (a protected bay in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) where I was lucky enough to see majestic manta rays for the first time in my life! I swam with around 20 of them, as they were unbothered by our presence and swam right beneath the group - it really was the highlight of my trip!
I also had chance to scope out 'The Den' - easily one of the best kids' clubs in the Maldives with rooms dedicated to Lego, dressing up, painting, and a kitchen where the children can bake cookies and Maldivian snacks. 'The Den' is complimentary for all in-house guests and is open nine hours each day - the perfect place to drop kids if you need a bit of adult time!
Located amid the Medhufaru lagoon in the Noonu Atoll, Soneva Jani sets a new benchmark for overwater luxury living with maximum space, privacy, and unforgettable views. Perfect whether you're travelling as a couple, group or family, the overwater retreats here offer between one and four bedrooms, many of which include fun slides right into the turquoise waters. With a 'no shoes, no news' initiative, innovative dining concepts, holistic wellbeing experiences, and luxury accommodation, it's easy to fall into the relaxed atmosphere of the island. Due to a spate of bad luck with the weather, we had to cancel some of our more adventurous activities, but still got to enjoy everything else the island could offer us!
Along with the wealth of activities and marine based fun, Soneva Jani also offers some incredible dining destinations, each with a unique twist. One of the experiences I especially enjoyed was the Cinema Paradiso evening at Director's Cut, a combined experience of watching a film at the overwater silent theatre whilst enjoying the delicious Asian cuisine. The large cinema screen floats in the ocean and you can choose to enjoy the film with headphones as you enjoy your dinner, or you can watch silently and enjoy everyone's company at the table - we chose the latter and ate some of the best sushi I've ever had and delicious black cod (my absolute favourite dish).
Another favourite dining location of mine was the beachfront Crab Shack (voted CNN's most romantic restaurant!) that offers feet in the sand dining and an upstairs deck for watching the sunset. Located on the beach and overlooking the turquoise ocean, we enjoyed the most amazing Sri Lankan Mud Crab curry (complete with bibs as it was messy!) and incredible Mediterranean food with our feet in the perfectly soft, white sand.