TravelReview: Sustainable travel is on the menu at the Soneva Fushi eco-resort in the Maldives

Going inside Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort focused on sustainability and wellness on the Maldive’s Baa Atoll.
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Soneva Fushi Maldives 2

Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort focused on sustainable travel and wellness on the Maldive’s Baa Atoll, emphasizes barefoot, Robinson Crusoe-style living.

Their slow life philosophy and “no news, no shoes” ethos is accessible via a 30-minute seaplane ride from the capital of Male. However, the plane doesn’t actually arrive at the island’s jetty. This is for two reasons: to limit noise pollution for guests and preserve the sea life close to the island.

Upon arrival a friendly staffer collects your shoes and puts them into a cloth bag. You won’t see them again until the end of your stay, in keeping with the island’s main rule. They are serious about this “no shoes” thing.

Soneva Fushi Maldives
Each villa is nestled into the jungle, not visible from the beach. /Danielle Wilson Naqvi

Staff will already know all your likes and dislikes, as guests filled out an extensive form before arriving — everything from what kind of pillows are preferred and how they should smell to musical preferences.

All dietary requirements — including your favorite ice-cream — have already been considered, too.

The island, 1.5 kilometers by 400 meters, features a labyrinth of narrow paths winding through lush vegetation. Each villa is uber-private: with just a path leading into the foliage. There are 62 of these secluded villas on the island, each ranging from 1 to 6 bedrooms. The villas blend into the landscape with thatched roofs, large wood panel doors and timber staircas

The ground-floor bedroom has an adjacent shower and sunken bath in the garden, while beautiful vintage trunks at the end of the four-poster bed conceal a television — not that you’ll want to turn it on.

Unlike other resorts, Soneva Fushi doesn’t have any of the iconic over-water villas the Maldives is so famous for — so as to preserve the coral reef.

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Two-story villas at Soneva Fushi/Danielle Wilson Naqvi

The resort is focused on treading lightly on the earth: recycling waste materials and conserving water. Food is grown and sourced locally, while the island has one of the largest solar power plants in the Maldives.

All drinks are served in glass bottles. When empty bottles can’t be refilled, they are processed at the island’s very own glass recycling factory. There it is crushed, melted and used to create special items for the restaurants and villas. Also, fine particles of glass are mixed with cement and Styrofoam to make cement bricks for construction. And any plastic that is used is morphed into something new and useful via 3-D printer.

Soneva Fushi has also launched a fully sustainable surfing programme, for which they build eco-friendly surfboards made from waste.

Everything served on the island is organically grown, with a wide array of vegan free and dairy free options. Beef is not on any of the menus, due the sustainability issues, however it is served on request. Local coconuts are used to make oil for cooking and for use in the Six Senses Spa.

Ayurveda shots start the day at the Mihiree Mitha breakfast restaurant.

There is also a garden-to-table dining restaurant in a tree house and another featuring a plant-based menu of Asian fusion dishes using Nordic cooking methods.

Featured photo courtesy Danielle Wilson Naqvi

Danielle Wilson Naqvi has lived in Dubai for 25 years and has three children. A devoted globetrotter, Dani is the founder of Unique Family Travels, which curates holidays for families.

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