Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO THE MALDIVES, part 3, Soneva Fushi





PARADISE BAREFOOT CONTINUED
Now we visit the little sister of Soneva Fushi: much loved Soneva Gili.

On Soneva Fushi all the villas are on the beach, hidden away in the jungle, but on Soneva Gili they are all on stilts over their own lagoon, so it is a completely different setting.

Another beautiful flight to get there. This time we followed the pilot’s example and left our shoes in the luggage. After a quick boat ride we arrived barefoot at Soneva Gili and checked into our Villa Suite on one of the jetties.

Like Fushi, they are all in local wood and natural materials, enormous villas with lots and lots of space and a large sitting area. Here you have an amazing lazy view of the underwater world. Your private deck has cargo nets where you can lie and look down at the marine life.



Soneva Gili does not have its house reef close to the villas, as experienced at Fushi, and the lagoon floor is mostly covered with sand. However this attracts some new and very beautiful creatures. Plenty of blacktip reef sharks are seen everywhere, from your villa, from the lunch restaurant and whilst snorkeling. Big stingrays and eagle rays are also found in abundance around this area as well as many different kinds of puffer fish. Here you never really need to snorkel, you can just lie in the cargo net and the fish will come to you.



Smaller than Fushi, this place is primarily about relaxation. You are more or less forced to relax and enjoy yourself. The fact that neither you nor the staff wear shoes brings you closer to everything – not just to nature but to the staff. The relationship you have with them becomes very natural and fluid. When you meet the general managers walking around, they too are in their light linen clothes, bare feet, and at least give the illusion of being utterly relaxed as well. It is an amazing feeling to sit casually dressed with your feet in the sand, eating gourmet food and having the choice from an extensive wine list with mostly organic wines.



The resort offers 45 overwater villas including 8 water residences, 7 Crusoe residences and the Private Reserve including two master suites and guest room. The Crusoe accommodations and private reserve are indeed very private as they stand alone in the Indian Ocean reached only by boat. Guests get private rowing boats but can also use the shuttle.



Other facilities include an overwater spa, freshwater pool, gym, tennis, PADI dive centre with a purpose built dive boat – a typical Maldivian Dhoni.

AIRPORT & TRANSPORTATION
Soneva Fushi is a scenic seaplane flight of around 35 minutes from Male’ International Airport. Soneva Gili is 20 minutes by speedboat.

FLASH BACK – QATAR TO MALE’
A perfect start. Qatar airways business class delivered us fresh and ready, with plenty of leg room, Lanson vintage champagne and good choices in food.





At Male’ airport the pampering continued. Whisked off to a private lounge we could order special CDs for our room and book spa treatments, refreshed by hibiscus iced tea. Then we were lead to a light propeller plane for a stunning scenic ride. 45 minutes and a couple of stops later…. The pilot stepped out of the plane barefoot…

See our last blog on Soneva Fushi…

IN A COCONUTSHELL
The Maldives is paradise on earth, and this is how you should spend your time in paradise: relaxed and calm, with your feet in soft, white sand…

The sand was whiter then we dreamed of, the ocean even more beautiful and full of life then we imagined and, what is more, during 10 nights at Fushi and Gili we have been more relaxed than for a very, very long time.




NOTE: In blog style, these are our own informal snapshots. For the hotel's own images see our Select Collection website.

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO THE MALDIVES, part 2, Soneva Fushi





PARADISE BAREFOOT:FUSHI.
The pilot steps out of the plane and whispers: You will love it here. She is barefoot: how appropriate for a trip in barefoot luxury. At the tiny floating Soneva Fushi International Airport, the first thing our Mr Friday does is collect our shoes: No news no shoes. “No shoes” makes your holiday start on the right foot – totally carefree. Jetlag pours off us in the soft sand amidst absolutely breathtaking beauty.

Our home is a villa suite with private pool, hidden in the jungle with a pathway leading down to the beach.





The villa is massive, almost 600 sqm with large saltwater pool and huge outdoor bathroom area. On the inside you have everything you need, from makeup mirrors, different sitting areas, espresso machine and lots and lots of space.

This is basically what Mr. Crusoe would have built if he had more time and a flair for luxury. All of the water is purified on site, no water flown in from Europe. Everything here is focused on balance and sustainability.






Our high expectations of beauty and space wildly exceeded, it is time for another high expectation, the food. So we took our bikes (all guests get bikes) to the main restaurant. Here, now and every lunch time we were pampered with sushi and sashimi, along with plates of mixed salmon, tuna, snapper and reef fish caught a few hours before.


Our favourite lunch





Beachside sand-in-toes dining


The resort has three restaurants. The rest of the food followed the same theme, as locally produced as possible (even mushrooms) – and absolutely wonderful, enjoyed in beautiful and casual settings.









The delicatessen room



Wicked desserts




There are 65 villas, each just a few steps from your own stretch of white sandy beach. A Six Senses Spa provides beauty and body treatments, steam rooms and sauna. Tennis junkies relax – there are tennis courts too. And for those who come for the underwater magic, a dive centre with latest high-tech diving equipment, offering PADI certification within a week. And naturally, there is snorkeling.

Soneva Fushi has a beautiful and very rich house reef: turtles, rays, triggerfish are quite common snorkeling sights. While diving, schools of eagle rays, moray eels, clown fish and other beautiful marine life are all around you in a fantastic abundance.

We snapped this image just off our beach.








And so a week went by in barefoot paradise. Our next stop will be Soneva Gili…


Note: In blog style these are our own spontatneous snapshots. For images by Soneva Fushi see our website.