Soneva Fushi is one of the Maldives’ largest island resorts, and one of the most family-friendly. So much so, that it was recently shortlisted for Best Long-Haul Accommodation for Families in the Family Traveller Awards. Holly Tuppen was lucky enough to sample their Robinson Crusoe-style luxury with her two year old in tow.
Article published on Kodomo July 2015.
For people like me (not filthy rich), Soneva Fushi is a once in a lifetime experience. Sadly, my two year old won’t remember what was, probably, the most magical holiday he will ever go on. But that’s not to say it hasn’t had an impact – one month later and he still gets excited seeing sting rays and turtles whenever we go near open water and I’m convinced Blue Planet is watched with a little more intensity. For myself, it is still (and will be for a long while) my happy place when London seems unbearably hectic and life is filled with more chores than joy.
Whereas some Maldivian resorts are designed for a quick ‘fly and flop’ experience, often tied in with Sri Lanka or Dubai, Soneva Fushi is a destination in its own right. The island takes 45 minutes to circumnavigate by foot (many take only 10 mins) and having been an island resort for over 15 years, the vegetation is lush and dense. The owners, Sonu (who founded Six Senses) and his wife Eva, have been involved every step of the way and they have embedded a sustainable ethos throughout. Within an hour of us arriving at Soneva Fushi, shoes became obsolete and the barefoot luxury vibe was fully embraced.
My fear of ‘getting bored’ on a tiny tropical island was completely futile. Sunbathing is not my thing, but I could happily while away a couple of weeks at Soneva Fushi. I spent hours weaving around the island’s sand paths by bike past the giant banyan trees and dodging scuttling lizards beneath a canopy of greenery alive with birdsong. That was my favourite part of every day. Beyond the villas there’s plenty to explore – a house reef full of marine life, beaches for all occasions, an outdoor cinema, a garden growing everything you could imagine, an observatory, a fabulous kids club, a dive centre, a sensational spa, the yoga retreat and eco centre – the list goes on.
Our personal ‘Mr Friday’ worked out our interests and planned as much or as little action as we liked for each day we were there. A key component of said ‘action’ was obviously eating and drinking. With seven dining options throughout the island and much of the produce made or grown on site, food is a serious past time. A special mention should go to fresh sushi, the chocolate room, homemade sorbet, breakfast juices, Fresh in the Garden jungle-top feasts, sunset cocktails and the beachside BBQs. In between such delights, we lounged on our own private beach, snorkelled with a marine biologist, learned to free dive and enjoyed sunset dolphin cruises.
Often catering for families that lead busy, urban lives, Soneva Fushi’s ethos is very much embedded in traditional family values. This is a place for kids to be kids again and for adults to switch off and get involved as much as they like. The kids’ club, The Den, factors in ‘family time’ throughout the day and children are made to feel very welcome throughout the entire island. Childcare is top notch, even when kids are too young for The Den which, for those old enough, offers everything from music lessons to snorkelling trips.
Villas come in all shapes and sizes, each providing guests with their own slice of island paradise. Living in one of these villas was a complete break from the norm – simple but beautiful inside and out with huge open air bathrooms, sandy gardens and sea views. Our two-bed Soneva Fushi Villa Suite had every luxurious touch we could want, whilst also feeling simple and calming. It was also big enough not to have to worry about a restless toddler. The outdoor saltwater pool offered the perfect respite to the afternoon sun and our upstairs terrace was a little haven for evenings spent stargazing. If holidays are about luxuriating in a more simple existence filled with childlike excitement, then this place has hit the nail on the head.
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