The Maldives. The land of crystal-clear, varying shades of blue seas and endless blue skies, the Maldives is made up of over 1000 coral islands naturally arranged in a double chain of a total of 26 atolls, covering about 35,000 square miles. Found in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has basically two seasons: the rainy season and dry season. The rainy season lasts from June to August. The Maldives is home to 187 different species of coral that forms its famous coral reefs, and there is a wealth of sea life and marine ecosystems in the country.
Fish trading used to be the main source of income for the nation until this beautiful land was discovered by tourists around 1972. The Maldives is home to several beach villas, private islands (like the Velaa private island) and atolls, such as the Baa Atoll, the South Male Atoll, the North Male Atoll, and the Male Atoll. Now, the Maldives is known worldwide as a tourist attraction, with some of the best luxury resorts in the world, attracting people from all over the world, including South America, Sri Lanka, South Africa, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, and North America.
There are about 100 resorts in the Maldives, including the St Regis Maldives Vommuli resort, Soneva Kiri, and Park Hyatt, but it is difficult to find one that beats Soneva Jani in luxury and excellent service.
The Soneva chain of resorts opened its newest, and possibly best, resort yet in the Maldives in November 2016 and christened it Soneva Jani. The Soneva Jani resort covers five islands in the Noonu Atoll, and the largest of these islands boasts verdant tropical plants, and land crabs claim it as their territory. Specifically, Soneva Jani is located on the largest of the islands called Medhufaru, but it is mainly built over water, making Soneva Jani unique: its 24 villas are built over water and connected by wooden walkways. What is more, the Soneva Jani resort has for its guests a private lagoon that is 5.6 kilometres long, with clean white beaches and beautiful, clear water. Soneva Jani in the Maldives is a luxury resort that insists that you walk around barefoot, relax, and spend days on end in their luxuriously comfortable villas, with no other thought in mind than to be free.
It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, you do not need a visa to get into the Maldives. All you need is a valid international passport, evidence of travelling on from the country, and enough money to be self-sufficient during your stay in the country. Flights from India arrive at the Malé International Airport, which is on Hulhulé Island, next to the capital island of Malé.
Once at the airport, you have a few options of how to get to Soneva Jani. By seaplane transfer from the airport, you can get to the resort in 40 minutes, giving you enough time to take in the scenery that the Maldives has to offer. However, the seaplanes have strict operating times, from 7 am to 4:30 in the evening, and if you arrive any later than 3:30 at the airport in Malé, you won’t get a seaplane to take you to the resort. So, your second option would be to take a domestic plane to Soneva Fushi on Baa Atoll, spend the night, then go to Soneva Jani in the morning. A third option is to take a flight to Soneva Fushi, the older sister of Soneva Jani, which is on the Baa Atoll. Here, you can board the Soneva in Aqua. Soneva in Aqua is a stunning yacht that will take you on a half-day luxury cruise before you reach Soneva Jani.
Soneva Jani in the Maldives sets itself apart from other resorts in the country because of its attention to detail. After touching down in the Malé International Airport and confirming your seaplane flight to the resort, you are ushered into the Soneva Jani resort’s private lounge and served drinks, snacks, and the offer of a massage. As you wait for your flight, you are required to answer some questions via your iPad, such as:
- What fragrance would you like to be sprayed on your pillow: orange, lemongrass, peppermint, or lemongrass?
- What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?
- What is your favourite meal?
- What music would you like to be playing when you arrive at your villa?
Soneva Jani is all about your comfort, and this is one of the things that make the resort different and better than other resorts in the Maldives.
The seaplane lands in a cute little wooden dock in the middle of the water – this is Soneva Jani’s very own private airport – and a speedboat waits there to take you to the arrival port at the resort. Once you disembark, you are greeted with warm, welcoming smiles and fresh, sweet coconut water. The resort’s ‘no shoes’ policy means that they will request that you take off your shoes once you get there. The whole point of Soneva Jani is to give you a luxury laid-back experience.
Soneva Jani also provides you with your personal host, who will also be your chauffeur, tour guide, and concierge called Mr or Mrs Friday. They are usually native Maldivians, and the name Friday isn’t their real name, but a quirk that the Soneva Jani resort likes to indulge in. Mr or Mrs Friday will be your host and your guide throughout your stay at the resort.
Perfect for family holidays, the Soneva Jani Maldives resort has 24 overwater villas featuring one-bedroom villas to the four-bedroom villas. Only one villa is on land, and it is a four-bedroom villa: the rest are on stilts and quite a distance from the villa on land. Each villa comes with a private pool or swimming pools that face the lagoon, and there is a 2 bedroom villa that has a water retreat with slide. If your villa doesn’t have a slide, you can get one installed for you for INR14,120. Most of the villas come with a bedroom water reserve.
The master bedrooms all have retractable roofs, which give you starry views of the sky at night. Each villa comes with a pre-stocked pantry with air-conditioning, offering wine refrigerator, snacks, an espresso machine, and some drinks. At the foot of the bed in the master bedroom are some old-style suitcases that actually contain a TV. The TV is not hung up or displayed because of the resort’s ‘no news no shoes’ policy. The whole point of going to Soneva Jani resort is to get away from the world. These island villas or water villas also come with extra beds and an iPod dock.
The villas cost from INR211,800 to INR353,000 per night for the smaller ones and INR1,412,000 per night for the largest villa.
Eat at The Gathering
The Gathering is a three-storey open-air structure on land – Medhufaru Island – and it houses the only restaurant in the resort. It also contains the fitness centre, the spa, a tennis court, dining outlets, and the kids’ entertainment centre (yes, Soneva Jani has a kids club too!). The Gathering is where everyone in the resort meets and greets; otherwise, your villa guarantees you all the peace, quiet and privacy that you need.
Everyone goes to The Gathering for meals, from breakfast through to dinner, and there is something for everybody at The Gathering.
If you want fresh fruit and veggies or organic food, head on over to So Fresh. There you are sure to get salads, juices, and healthy smoothies as well.
So Imaginative serves wine dinners from an extraordinary wine cellar, and you can get to try your hand at wine tasting.
The Gathering also has an overwater observatory, where a maximum of four dining tables is connected to screens that link to the telescope. Enjoy a spectacular dining experience while looking at the wonder that is space.
Think it’s a bit hot and need to cool down? Go to So Cool for free ice-creams, cheese, and chocolate. You can also get some food to go, in case you get the munchies while in your villa.
The Gathering Bar has a relaxed atmosphere that serves a variety of beverages, including juices made of tropical fruit, cocktails, and champagne.
Breakfast room service is available at any time of the day, and while the Gathering Bar stays open till midnight, dinner is served only till 10.30 pm.
Zuhair’s Island on the hidden North Island offers lunch and dinner on a private beach where you eat chef-cooked meals using ingredients he has caught with his hands.
Experience Soneva Jani Resort
The resort has diving instructors who show you where the best dive centres are, and you get to see the coral reefs and their teeming marine life up close. You can take boat rides on a catamaran to spot dolphins and follow the resort’s resident marine biologist to seek out manta rays and sea turtles. There are kite-surfing and wind-surfing, and you get to paddle in a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard if you are interested.
Soneva Jani resort has the first ever over-water silent cinema in the Maldives and you can relax and watch movies in the evening. In respect to all the wildlife around, Cinema Paradiso is truly a silent cinema: all the guests are given Bluetooth headphones to enjoy their movie while leaving nature undisturbed.
The resort has a library and a boutique that sells swimwear and appropriate accessories, and there is a meditative labyrinth made of ficus hedge that you can just stroll through and think calming thoughts. In addition to all of this and the spa, the resort can also arrange picnics for you, Robinson Crusoe-style; cooking classes; picnics prepared by a private chef, and even more.
The resort is serious about its policy on being environmentally friendly: all waste is recycled, and the resort provides its own drinking water in glass bottles to minimize the use of plastic.
There is no best time to visit Soneva Jani: you can go during the Christmas/New Year period, or the Easter period, or from February to April. You can save money by visiting the resort during surfing season, which is March to October. Take note of the peak periods when you check your time of booking, and booking a round trip would be best. For the best luxury travel experience, get a travel guide or a travel expert to guide you through the process. Soneva Jani Resort in the Maldives is a luxury resort for those who really want to kick back and relax. Forget all about formality, dress codes, and even shoes. Travel to Soneva Jani for intelligent, slow-paced luxury and a wonderful vacation experience.