Best of the Maldives: Marine Discovery Experience – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - submarine

For the ultimate undersea adventure Soneva Fushi has partnered with Nekton for a dive of a lifetime:

· “The highest bidder will travel to the Maldives and board Nekton’s manned submersible alongside Victor Vescovo, diving down to 3,000 meters below sea level where biodiversity peaks to visit an unexplored seamount in the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone.”

The experience also includes stays at some of the world’s most exclusive luxury resorts, including Soneva Fushi, the opportunity to conduct a live deep-sea broadcast, and the chance to help create the first maps of uncharted seamounts. The highest bidder (which starts at $125,000) will also receive a documentary film detailing the entire journey. For glimpse of the celebrity guide himself, Victor Vescovo, check out his TED talk below. [NOTE: I suspect that this experience will be postponed with the COVI19 lock-down]

Best of the Maldives: Poetry – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - poetry 1

Poetry Day today. Just the time to share some inspired creativity from fellow Maldives veteran, in fact someone who has accompanied me from the very beginning of my Maldives odyssey – our daughter Isley. She has become a proper writer of note penning plays that have been playing to sold out theatres in London and the UK for several years. She has been working on a special film project (stay tuned) set in the Maldives itself and was invited by Soneva Fushi as an artist in residence to support her venture (the story is set quite near the Soneva island) as well as to provide a number of presentations to guests during her stay. While there, the tropical paradise and the inspiring atmosphere of Soneva prompted some side compositions which I saved till today to share:

SONEVA FUSHI

An eco symphony
White sand, clear sea
Hot sun, cool breeze
Blue sky, green trees
And hosts like family
Who truly care personally, communally, and globally
Soneva Fushi
Luxury
Sustainably


TODAY I WAS A STARFISH

today i was a starfish
on the beach
akimbo
flat and still
as the tide came in
and washed my body
back to the sea
reclaimed me
as the animal i had forgotten to be
but when the light turned the water from glass to rock
i stood
now dressed in grit and salt
and was lost on land
back home
i tried again to be a starfish
i took off my shoes (leather)
which now felt sharp
lay down on pillows (full of feathers)
and with pain in my heart
remembered the sand
and thought:
what a grossly lucky animal i am


RAIN

it seems
the sky
is furious
but no
it is
in fact
delirious
with her unbridled love for us
so turbulent
so serious
that she pours out her feeling, fierce
and full
blanketing the island thus
to still the jungle to a hush
her tenderness so bounteous
that afterwards
the blossoms all peek out at us
wondrous
at a love
so luxurious
that to drown
would be glorious


‘THIS ONE’

I saw it happen before it happened
the jaunty angle of the bowl
the ice cream melting out
the four year old fingers
and then the tears
when it was all lost to the ground
her brother’s little “uhoh” would not suffice
nor did her mother’s reassurances
and how could they
of course there was another one coming
but the child mourned this one
she was right to
I just didn’t know why
at the time
but later
at the maker’s space
I snipped dirty plastic for hours
the tiny pieces needed for a new machine to transform old bottle caps into things of use
and beauty
and when my hands shook from gripping the tools
I felt like the wobbly child
and when a piece pinged away from me
I felt the shock of the child
and as I laughed with the dutch folks who’s scheme this was
I saw in them the child
because of course there’s another one coming
and another
and another
and another
which is why we must all make haste
to be more like the child
and sob more over waste

Soneva Fushi - poetry 2
Soneva recylcing

Best of the Maldives: Ice Cream of the Month – Soneva Fushi / Soneva Jani

Soneva Fushi - ice creams

Forget Book of the Month Club or Employee of the Month plaques, I want the Ice Cream of the Month subscription thank you. Just another ice cream extravagance at Soneva (both Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani) as Maldives Insider reported at its launch last year:

  • Soneva is developing 10 new and unique flavours at Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva Kiri, for a total of 30 flavours. These flavours are only available for the next 12 months, after which time they will change. This is in addition to the regular rotating roster of flavours at each resort. Guests at Soneva Fushi’s So Cool will get to sample new flavours such as: Soneva Bread Fruit and Maldivian Pine Nuts, Strawberry, Aged Balsamic and Green Olives, and Curry Leaves and Sweet Mango. While at Soneva Jani’s So Cool, Yuka with Garden Basil, Seaweed, and Caramelised Young Coconut join the classic ice creams and sorbets. Soneva will also be introducing one new flavour each month inspired by that month’s Festival of Colour theme.”

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Fusion – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - tastmakers

A fusion closer to the Maldivian home is Soneva Fushi’s “Tastemaker” who combines Laccadive flavours with a range of Asian flavours drawn from his travels in the region:

  • “Maldivian born and bred, Chef Sobah is considered one of the pioneers of his islands’ rich culinary heritage. As a child, his family’s main source of income was from fishing, and he would help his parents sun-dry and smoke the daily catch. Today, Chef Sobah draws upon the traditional techniques of Maldivian cooking in his Soneva Fushi restaurant, Sobah’s, the first restaurant in the Maldives to offer authentic Maldivian fare with a contemporary twist.”

I’ve added a tag for “Fusion” with this post as so many of the top properties are distinguishing their fare with the flai of inventive combination.

Best of the Maldives: Kosher Food – Soneva Fushi

KSoneva Fushi - kosher kitchen

The luxury Maldives properties pride themselves on catering to any guest’s whim or need including all sorts of dietary preferences despite being isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Some things can just be flown in, but others require more work on the ground. That is the case with truly kosher foods which are not just about avoiding certain prohibited food, but also about preparing the kosher items in a kosher way ideally removed from the preparation of other food which might taint it. Irufushi is the only resort I have found that offers kosher foods explicitly, but now Soneva Fushi has invested in a dedicated kosher prep kitchen to provide the tightest conformity to kosher requirements. Maldives Insider reports

  • “Soneva Fushi is the first luxury resort in the Maldives to have a dedicated kosher kitchen, which also doubles as an allergy kitchen. The kosher kitchen is a separate air conditioned kitchen where the resort’s specialty chefs will produce kosher meals. All the equipment is brand new, and will only be used for the said purpose. The resort carries kosher chicken, beef and sausages which are shipped directly from Holland by a kosher meat producer.”

Best of the Maldives: Eco-Video Series – Soneva Fushi

 

The Netflix series “Our Planet” is the latest in the David Attenborough wildlife adventures with an increasing emphasis on its fragility and need for preservation. Soneva Fushi introduces a slate of its own budding guides to the natural world of its own little plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with its Change-Maker series and the efforts they are undertaking to preserve this little corner of our planet…

  • “Films that highlight how we’re recognising and tackling some of the issues greater than ourselves; told by the Change-Makers of Soneva. These amazing individuals represent everything we stand for – recognising that it’s their role to be part of the positive change we want our planet to see. From Ellie Butler, Soneva Jani’s Marine Biologist tackling ocean plastic to Chef Kevin Fawkes, who creates dishes beyond our wildest imagination with ingredients from our organic garden.”

Best of the Maldives: Villa Tower – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - tower

To get as close to somewhere over the rainbow as possible (and other celestial sights), Soneva Fushi sets a new highwater, well high in the air, mark for an open vista platform. Recently completed its latest villa, the five-bedroom Villa 37. The 11 metre tall viewing tower, reached by a winding staircase encircles a dining table called the Moonlight Table at the summit. This viewing tower is now the tallest point on the island and the ideal spot to take in the panoramic views, sunrises, sunsets, dining experiences and stargazing.

Best of the Maldives: Bookseller – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - bookseller

When Soneva Fushi announced their recruitment for a “Barefoot Bookseller” it was one of those fantasy jobs right up there with “Professional Cuddler” and “Ben & Jerry’s Flavour Guru” as one of the best jobs on the planet. The lucky bibliomerchant is Aimée Johnston. Her bio reads…

  • She studied History and English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and was part of the University of Tokyo’s AIKOM programme. Since graduating she has worked in the publicity department of Penguin Random House Ireland, managing campaigns for Irish and international authors including Tara Westover, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Aoife Abbey and most recently, TwistedDoodles. She loves open water swimming, travelling and factor 50 sunscreen.”

Maldives Complete was able to catch up with Aimee for an interview about her life as a Laccadive lady of leisure literature…

  • What prompted Soneva Fushi to open a bookstore on their resort?
    Soneva has always been a great innovator in the field of luxury travel, always pre-empting the needs and desires of guests and always willing to test an unchartered terrain, like their very own bookshop! For a lot of people leading busy lives, the only time they can sit back, relax and read for pleasure is when they are on holidays, so how brilliant to have a carefully curated bookshop on the island.
  • Where are you from?
    I’m from Antrim in Ireland but I moved to Dublin for college and fell in love with the city. I had been living there for seven years before moving to the Maldives.
  • What is your previous experience with books?
    I adore reading and always have. I loved literature so much that I decided to study it in college and when I left, I knew I wanted to get a job in the publishing industry. I’ve been lucky enough to work in the publicity department of Penguin Random House Ireland for three years. It’s a brilliant job. You get to work with fantastically talented authors, promoting their writing as far and as wide as possible.
  • Do people come into browse or are they more looking for recommendations?
    Both! Sometimes people come in with a blank slate, willing to be inspired by what they see on our shelves. Other times people can be unsure about what to read and I love nothing more than chatting to them, establishing their reading tastes and interests and finding the perfect book for them. It’s an amazing feeling, to know someone is walking away with a book that they’ll love.
  • What is the most popular genre?
    It really varies. Soneva Fushi guests have such a wonderful range of interests that every visitor to the bookshop is different. Generally though, our non-fiction piques a lot of interest. Guests want to feel informed, whether that’s by Peter Frankopan’s The New Silk Roads or Rudie Kuiter’s Fishes of the Maldives. Often our visitors are thrilled to see such an impressive collection of books on wildlife and sea-life that speak to their immediate environment.
  • What are you doing more of than you expected on the island?
    I’m doing a lot more eating than I imagined! Our staff canteen is simply amazing, and our chefs are brilliant. They can whip up a mean omelette that’s worth waking up early for!
  • What are you doing less of than you expected on the island?
    I’ll admit that there is a little less sunbathing than I naively fantasized about! There is so much to do on the island that I find I’m a lot busier than I was expecting, trying to do as much as I possibly can. It has been a lot of fun.
  • What book are you reading now?
    I’ve just finished reading Not Working by Lisa Owens. It follows Claire Flannery just as she’s quit her job in the hope that by taking some time out she’ll figure out what the ‘perfect’ job for her really looks like. I loved it. It has all the heart and humour of Bridget Jones but so totally original in its story. Claire’s quest for her ‘dream’ job was the ‘will they won’t they’ romance I didn’t know I needed! Next up on my reading list is The Woman in the Window by controversial author A.J. Finn, which is our first reading choice in the Barefoot Book Club.

Soneva Fushi - bookseller 2