Soneva Fushi isn’t just one of the Maldives’ best luxury resorts where you can spend a few weeks on holiday but it’s a place that you go to have an experience; a wonderful, extremely satisfying, next-level-amazing and sometimes even surprising experience.
And with the Soneva commitment to being environmentally friendly, this luxury eco-resort is perfect for vegans.
Soneva Fushi is situated on the deserted island of Kunfunadhoo in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. In true castaway style, guests remove their shoes and walk barefoot in the sand whilst getting in touch with nature. The landscape is lush with giant twisting trees, creeping vines, palms and plants growing everywhere. It’s a perfect habitat for birds too, which can be heard squawking and rustling in the undergrowth. You’ll also see lizards, butterflies and even the occasional rabbit (we did say this place was sometimes surprising).
The overall feel of the resort is laid back, eco-chic luxury; there is a high level of attention to detail but staff manage to keep the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. Buildings are mainly open air structures, made from natural materials. The furniture completes the rustic feel and beautifully plush soft furnishings keep the luxury vibe alive.
Our ‘Family Villa Suite’ was a whitewashed natural beauty, giving us another of those surprising moments as we explored. We found cool upstairs open-air seating areas to relax in, our own swing seat and a separate kitchen with a top of the range coffee machine. There was a huge oversized day bed filled with cotton balls in the indoor-outdoor bathroom along with his and hers sinks, a sunken bathtub and one of the two showers was outdoors, surrounded by trees and sky.
Inside we had a separate dressing area with a cool Hollywood vanity mirror; billowing nets surrounded our comfortable four poster bed and the lounge area had sofas that would seat 10 people comfortably.
Open the doors to explore further outside to find a private pool and stretch of white sandy beach leading down to the Indian Ocean.
It was difficult to leave.
But leave we did, because Soneva Fushi had much more to discover than our own private luxury sanctuary. There were yoga and meditation classes at ‘Turtle Beach Yoga Champa’, which may well have one of the best views of any yoga studio, ever. There was a huge outdoor cinema, (‘Cinema Paradiso’ the first open-air cinema in the Maldives with the widest screen in the Indian Ocean) showing classic movies under the stars.
And talking of stars, Soneva Fushi has its very own observatory. You can spend time at ‘So Celestial’ gazing up into the heavens and wondering what else is out there.
For children, there is ‘The Den’, a whole separate area where children can have their own special adventures. The complex, which is the largest and most well equipped in the Maldives, has everything including a giant swimming pool, a music room, dressing up area and even an entire room full of Lego.
Soneva Fushi is certainly somewhere that families will love too.
There are ‘off-island’ adventres to be enjoyed too, with activities like snorkelling on the house reef or diving as well as dolphin watching where you can set sail to see these beautiful creatures whilst enjoying some excellent canapés and sparkling wine. The sunset dolphin cruise was a great chance to see Soneva’s philosophy towards the environment in action, there was thankfully no ‘chasing’ of dolphins for the pleasure of tourists on this ethically run trip.
But the way the dolphin excursion was managed wasn’t the only chance to see the respect for the environment that is key to the Soneva brand.
Throughout the resort, imaginative, clever and reassuring initiatives were in place.
Guests can observe the artists at ‘So Glasscycle’, Soneva’s glass and art studio, as they work alongside the intense heat of the furnaces and ‘upcycle’ glass into art, building materials and items for the rooms and restaurants.
You can even experience a luxury eco-friendly toilet, high up in the treetops at ‘Fresh in the Garden’ where you ‘flush’ with a sprinkling of coconut coir instead of wasting water and you can visit ‘Eco Centro’ to see the resort’s ‘Waste to Wealth’ area where you can see many examples of recycling in action.
And the vegan food? That was quite simply awesome.
The Vegan Food:
One of the noticeable things about the food offering at Soneva Fushi is the exceptional quality of everything on offer.
Natural, freshly made, premium ingredients and health are all firmly on the menu.
We loved being able to build our own dishes with the delicious and extensive array of salads, breads, nuts and seeds. The selection of oils, vinegars and even a range of speciality salts gave the chance to get really creative.
This style of eating turned our breakfasts and lunches into a mini food adventure.
Vegans will be spoilt for choice with the varied options in the cold room, and also the hot food offerings in ‘Mihiree Mithaa’ where breakfast and lunch buffets with live pizza and pasta cooking stations sitting alongside steaming clay pots of curry, rice and dahl await vegan guets.
And the excitement at being able to help yourself to an abundance of delectable items doesn’t end with traditional mealtimes.
At Soneva Fushi we got to feel like excited children with free reign in a sweet shop every time we popped into ‘So Hot, So Cool’, the resort’s complementary chocolate room and neighbouring ice cream parlour. We have to admit to daily visits to both, as we made it our mission to work our way through the huge selection of vegan sorbets and blissfully delicious dark chocolates.
There are a range of dining options at Soneva Fushi, all offering the opportunity to eat fresh, high quality, mouth watering food in the laid back luxury setting that can be found everywhere throughout the resort. We sampled Japanese inspired vegan treats at indoor-outdoor ‘By the Beach’ were the sounds of the sea make the perfect soundtrack to dinner. Starting with a platter of vegan sushi, we worked our way through 4 additional tasty courses before arriving at a perfect ‘Mixed berry soup with coconut sorbet’ for dessert.
At ‘So Down to Earth’, Soneva Fushi’s main restaurant, we were presented with dishes like ‘Mango gazpacho with almond toast’, ‘Tomato and avocado tartar with organic herbs salad’ and a ‘Dahl and spinach curry with traditional accompaniments’.
The curries at Soneva became a firm favourite during our stay with their soothing, healthy spices warming our souls every time we ate them. The traditional accompaniments included dishes like a fresh copyfai leaf salad laced with fresh coconut meat, giving us a chance to try some Maldivian specialities too.
We ate an unforgettable meal at ‘Fresh in the Garden’, Soneva’s tree top restaurant located in their organic garden. Ingredients were freshly picked from the garden and then used to prepare a creative and tantalising vegan tasting menu.
We made our way across the rope bridge, took our seats in the open air restaurant, surrounded by trees.
Then we watched as our food was prepared in the sunken kitchen which forms the restaurant heart. Dishes like ‘Almond resin’ left us absolutely speechless with delight, the combination of an almond nut cheese topped with raisins and pistachios being particularly moreish.
The vegan menu at ‘Fresh in the Garden’ took us on a wonderful journey of the senses with a little theatre and suspense and a few ‘wow’ moments adding to the experience too. Like the wonderfully fragrant ‘Papillote of vegetables’ which was unwrapped at our table to reveal delicious potato, asparagus, leeks and herbs; food you can’t help but fall in love with.
The Vegan Essentials:
Because this is Soneva Fushi, there weren’t just non-feather pillows, but a whole menu of vegan pillows to choose from. We were even invited to select our own pillow scent and also the scent in our naturally made vegan amenities.
Spa loving vegans will be pleased to hear that there is a Six Senses Spa at Soneva Fushi, it offers an amazing place to spend a few hours and unwind after a busy day in paradise.
There are a multitude of natural Ayurvedic treatments and products, as well as heavenly massages by the excellent onsite and visiting therapists. You can’t help relax as you walk on stepping stones across calming water to be greeted at reception. We enjoyed a couples massage, followed by time spent sipping warm tea in the upstairs relaxation area.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check-in to Soneva Fushi for a paradise island retreat where you can truly escape it all; wander barefoot around this private island resort where health, well being and sustainability are key and veganism is fully embraced.
This is a perfect place for families too with ‘The Den’ being the largest children’s area in the Maldives.
Enjoy delicious garden-to-plate meals made using fresh, organic vegetables and go wild in the complimentary chocolate and ice cream rooms.
Don’t forget to dine at at ‘Fresh in the Garden’ for a vegan meal to remember served in the tree tops where beauty surrounds.
We were guests of Soneva Fushi but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Telephone: +960 660-0304
Cost From: £1400 / $1855 per night (September 2016)