Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The hottest news from paradise is the opening of a new Soneva resort in the Maldives later this year. Select Collection has been there to see dream villas being built over an exquisite lagoon at Soneva Jani. 

But first Taina Weide-Miettinen starts off our Luxury Travel blog with a visit to Soneva Fushi, and inspects the yacht Soneva in Aqua. She decides after this triple experience where her next holiday MUST be…

Soneva Fushi – exceeding expectations

What does one expect when travelling to the Maldives? Sunshine, white beaches and turquoise sea with great opportunities to snorkel. People talk a lot about their experiences but no-one can really prepare you for this...

The Maldives exceed all your expectations.

We flew with Finnair from Helsinki to Bangkok (9h) and after a smooth 2,5 hour transit time, we continued by Bangkok Airways to Male (4,5h). Thus far pretty standard travelling. At Male airport, which is very tiny, we were welcomed by a Soneva Fushi representative. He took our luggage and lead us to Soneva Fushi's own airport lounge. We waited there for few minutes, checked in to the hotel, and our domestic flight to Baa Atoll was ready to board.

What a wonderful flight - someone could argue that it was hot and loud - but the views over the atolls were magnificent! We forgot how tired we were after travelling so many hours.

We landed on water, were dropped off at Soneva Fushi's international airport pontoon and then were picked up by their boat. Our butler, Ms. Friday, welcomed us and gave us shoebags …

Welcome to Soneva Fushi - no shoes no news - a barefoot paradise.

A paradise it is. Lazy days, so relaxed - normal daily routines and worries at home seemed so distant, as if they did not really exist. We had bicycles and rode around the island admiring the way everything is built, used and recycled, respecting nature.

Our villa (number 62) with beachside pool

Our villa pool and its two buildings

Both poolisde and beachside - a perfect place to be

Our villa was fantastic: two floors, bedroom and huge bathroom upstairs, living room and big terrace downstairs. Not to forget our own swimming pool and spacious yard. The turquoise sea was just few steps away. We had all we needed!

What to do in the Maldives? Well, you could easily spend a week doing nothing! Snorkelling is great, the water is crystal clear and there is plenty to see. For beginners and serious divers the Maldives offer fantastic opportunities. Other water sports like sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, sup boarding are also available. I must admit, we didn't try them all.

The food is excellent - you can have your own bbq-party at you villa, picnic lunch on a sandbank or eat at one of many restaurants offering Maldivian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Indian and Sri Lankan dishes using mainly ingredients grown at the island or caught by local fishermen - very fresh and organic. The chefs arrange cooking classes for groups or private sessions. Above this there is a chocolate room and ice cream room - all you can eat basis - and we did!  I recommend taking Half Board.

The night sky above Soneva Fushi is clear and full of stars. It is very interesting to go to their observatory and really study the stars. For me stars told me that I will come back to Maldives - yes indeed, I will!

The children's Den is great. It offers big variety of activities for children from 4 yrs and up and huge children's swimming pool!

Villa tips

#41 - 4 bedroom villa, is very spacious and nice with 3 master size bedrooms and the fourth for children (2 twin beds). Some masterbedroom sofas can be made beds for children so it can accommodate 6 adults + 2 children + further children in possible extra beds.

#11 - 6 bedroom villa, can be set up like a 9 bedroom villa if children are sleeping for example in the library as one additional bedroom. There is plenty of space and privacy since the rooms are divided between many buildings.

#54 - basic Crusoe villa with pool; is a very beautiful 1 bedroom villa for honeymooners and couples in general.

#62 - 3 bedroom villa; two buildings, one with one bedroom (2 adults) and the other bigger one with 2 bedrooms - one master and other for children with 2 twin beds), one little kid can sleep on the master bedroom sofa. Downstairs very nice dining area, own kitchen and big outside terrace with sofa.

#62 is where we stayed, and the villa pictures are of that villa.

My opinion

I enjoyed every moment at Soneva Fushi But next time I would like to stay right over the lagoon or floating over the ocean.  As follows…

Soneva in Aqua

This luxurious boat is a sublime way of exploring the Maldives and I would recommend combining Soneva Fushi with say two days at sea, sailing to Crusoe islands and stunning reefs in radiant turquoise lagoons.

The facts are:

  • There are 2 bedrooms – a master cabin for 2 adults (no possibility to add kids there) and another cabin for 2 adults and 1-2 smaller kids /or one teenager.  Not really suitable for small kids. 
  • The yacht has all luxury elements and services: captain, cook and therapist (massages etc) 
  • The guests sail to fantastic, unique and remote places - according to their wishes. 
  • In future guests may choose to stay some time at Soneva Jani, sail for a few nights on Soneva in Aqua, and spend the rest of their stay at Soneva Fushi. 
  • For those who love sailing the size is perfect.
  • For experienced divers, this offers the chance to dive in remote and very special places. 
  • For those who have enjoyed sailing in Greece, Croatia or the Caribbean - this is something new and for sure a different experience! 

Soneva Jani – a new villa paradise in the making

Tropical greenery and white beaches surrounded by a vast lagoon

I visited Soneva Jani, the first week of June. This is where I dream of staying when it is completely finished. One of  five islands in a spectacular and radiant turquoise lagoon (4.5 km wide) is being developed, and altogether there will be only 25 villas.  The other islands are uninhabited.

One overwater villa was ready and five nearing completion within a few weeks. The project manager told me that they are on time to open in October – they will open the central hub and villas located from the hub towards to the end of the pier.

Villas over the crystalline lagoon - under construction

One of the piers under construction

The central hub incuding restaurants and other facilities under construction

Current plans include only one beach villa … 24 overwater.. Maybe they will build more beach villas in future, and sell them to private owners.

Like Soneva Fushi, the island of Medhufaru is fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed with lush tropical greenery. At Soneva Jani ALL villas will have private pools, some villas featuring slides going from the top deck into the lagoon below. A spectacular feature will be the skylight roofs, that can open with with the press of a button to show the stunning tropical heavens.

Heavenly view from bed

Slide into the lagoon

Beautifully designed interiors are made from the highest quality sustainable materials.

I was impressed to see that they had temporarily set up a "factory" on the island to make all the attractive eco-friendly furniture.

Resort furniture under construction

In harmony with the beautiful environment, the villas have been built over the sandy floors of the lagoon, with no damage to any part of the reef.  Solar panels will be a major source of power generation at the resort, all waste-water will be collected and treated on-site, and drinking water will also be produced on-site.  Waste will be recycled, while the extensive vegetable garden will give local organic produce for the restaurants.

I am coming back!