Today: Top 10 reasons to stay at the Maldives’ ultimate resort, Soneva Jani
The Maldives is my favorite destination on earth and I recommend to travel at least once in your lifetime to this phenomenal Indian Ocean archipelago. Tiny islands and atolls house some of the world’s most exclusive hotels and are composed of exquisite ribbons of powdery-soft white sand lapped by turquoise waters against a background of lush tropical vegetation. Last week, I published a top 10 list with the most amazing luxury hotels in the Maldives. Today, I focus on the number one hotel in my list, Soneva Jani, the revolutionary and world-famous resort of genius Maldives-based hotelier Sonu Shivdasani, the CEO of Soneva, which is my favorite luxury hotel brand in the world. Here’s my selection of 10 reasons why you should put Soneva Jani on top of your bucket list.
- Website: Soneva Jani
- Review: read my review of Soneva Jani here
- Rates: Contact me for the best rates (best rate,resort credit + two complimentary experiences)
Some resorts are so exclusive that they can only be reached by private plane. And so is Soneva Jani, which uses a fleet of private Twin Otter seaplanes, exclusively designed for Soneva to fly its guests from the airport to the resort. Prior to take off at Male airport, a private Soneva lounge – styled in Soneva’s signature rustic eco-chic design – awaits guests to relax and freshen up. Aboard the seaplane, 10 VIP seats upholstered in Soneva-purple Elmosoft leather and high technology equipment welcome passengers for a 40-minute panoramic voyage that will undoubtedly make a mark. Each guests receives an amenity kit, which includes refreshingly cold towels, a bottle of delicious fruit juice, noise-cancelling headphones, and a tablet.
Soneva Jani’s guests can gaze into the night sky at the twinkling jewel-like stars at the Maldives’ only overwater observatory. This popular experience has awed and amazed guests at other Soneva resorts, but the resort designers have made the observatory at Soneva Jani even better. A sophisticated telescope rises up through the floor of the observatory deck, offering enchanted views of the starry sky. The deck is surrounded by four dining tables, at which you can dine if you wish (the restaurant is called ‘So Starstruck’). The tables are equipped with screens linked to the view from the telescope, allowing you to dine with the stars.
Cinema Paradiso is the first overwater silent cinema in the Maldives. Guests are provided with Bluetooth headphones, leaving the surrounding nesting wildlife at peace. The resort has a twice weekly movie selection for both children and adults, with a focus on classic and inspirational movies. You can relax on the comfortable loungers under the stars, and snack on complimentary popcorn and ice creams. Private screenings can be arranged at extra charge. Overlooking Cinema Paradiso is Director’s Cut Restaurant, where Chef Nikki serves modern style sashimi, black cod and other Japanese favorites with a contemporary twist.
In constructing the fabulous resort, Soneva kept its environmental impact on the Maldives as low as possible. The pools use seawater with UV filtration and the villas have been built over the lagoon’s sandy floors, with no damage to any part of the reef. Furthermore, solar PV is a significant source of power generation at the resort, all waste-water is collected and treated on-site, and water is also produced on-site, including drinking water. Soneva’s “eco waste-to-wealth center” ensures that waste is recycled, while the resort’s extensive vegetable garden (pictured below) gives local produce for the restaurants.
You can easily combine a stay at Soneva Jani (which is all about an overwater experience) with a stay at its sister resort in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi (which offers more of a beach & island experience). Soneva Fushi is the Maldives’ original desert island hideaway, with vast luxury villas nestle amongst rich greenery in touching distance of a Biosphere UNESCO protected coral reef. Transfer between both resorts can be done by private speedboat and takes about one hour. For the ultimate experience, you should consider a transfer in Soneva in Aqua, a private ultra-luxe yacht that combines the charm of Soneva with the freedom to explore the untouched Maldivian atolls en route.
The menus at Soneva Jani are as extravagant as the resort itself. There are nine dining outlets, offering various destinations cuisines and private dining experiences, where the resort’s chefs trick your taste buds and mind with elaborate disguises. Highlights are the Crab Shack (voted the ‘world’s most romantic restaurant’ on CNN), Overseas by chef Mathias Dahlgren (serving plant-based and pescatarian dishes), and So Wild by Diana Von Cranach (a fully plant-based restaurant in the midst of Soneva Jani’s organic garden). Soneva has also gained a worldwide reputation for its wine collection and sommeliers, and at Soneva Jani, the wine is housed in a glass tower and the list contains around 50% organic and biodynamic wine. And for the cherry on top, Soneva Jani also has an ice cream and chocolate room, where you can choose from over 50 flavors of ice creams and handmade chocolates throughout the day and evening.
The resort’s new wellness center – Soneva Soul, located not far from Soneva Jani’s picturesque South Beach – sets a new standard in holistic wellness, combining ancient Ayurvedic techniques with cutting-edge therapies. It has been designed to harmonize with its breath-taking beachside setting and features two indoor therapy rooms and three open-air treatment pavilions with unmatched views of the spectacular natural surrounds. The wellness center includes a dedicated Ayurvedic Clinic as well as an indoor consultation room for visiting specialists. Alongside a cross-functional fitness area, an open-air yoga pavilion includes facilities for aerial yoga. The new complex also features a retail area, featuring sustainable apparel, wellness products and accessories.
When guests book a stay in any of Soneva Jani’s Chapter Two overwater or island villas, they get to experience Soneva Unlimited, an indulgent new offering that invites guests to enjoy every facet of Soneva Jani to their heart’s desire, all included in the price of the villa. Soneva Unlimited includes: dining at all bars, restaurants and in-villa dining; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at all bars and restaurants; visiting Michelin-starred chef dinners and experiences; wines from the Soneva Unlimited list; experiences, diving, and children’s experiences; and spa treatments. Also included under Soneva Unlimited is a dedicated Barefoot Butler, return shared seaplane transfers from Malé, daily laundry service, and daily replenishment of the in-villa minibar. The full Soneva Unlimited menu can be viewed here.
Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll. The highlight of the resort is its location within a 5.6 km (3,5 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. The lagoon is so huge that more than 7,000 Olympic swimming pools can fit inside it. It’s impossible to find words to describe the intensely mesmerizing blue of the lagoon’s waters. This fifty shades of blue strike the entire Maldivian archipelago and are present in the shallows of every atoll’s islands, but nowhere are they as blue and clear as at Soneva Jani. Four of the five islands in the lagoon remain entirely undeveloped, so there is always somewhere a place to play castaway.
The scale of Soneva Jani’s villas is extraordinary, with both one bedroom (catering to couples and families with young children) and multi-bedroom villas (catering to larger travel parties) available. The 51 overwater villas are located along two jetties, which are connected to Medhufaru island, curving over the blue water like a snake. Each villa has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. Inside, there’s a spacious master bedroom with a kids’ sleeping area, open-air bathroom, glass-encased kitchenette, study room, walk-in wardrobe, living area with sunken seats, and an upstairs seating lounge and a dining sala. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.