THE MALDIVES: LUXE LIFE
Claiming The Maldives’ first overwater observatory, with resident astronomer and 25 enormous pool villas — some with long slides dipping straight into the lagoon — Soneva Jani brings a heightened sense of luxury to a region awash with glamorous digs.
Sister property to the acclaimed Soneva Fushi with its “no news no shoes” approach to beach luxury and crew of Mr (and Ms) Friday butlers, Soneva Jani features The Maldives’ largest overwater structure, housing several dining outlets, a wine cellar, library and children’s den.
There is also a “silent cinema” featuring an overwater big screen where guests are provided with Bluetooth earphones so as not to disturb nesting birds.
The 24 stunning overwater villas and one island villa are strung along a large lagoon on the 61ha Medhufaru, part of an uninhabited five-island group in the Noonu Atoll, making it one of the lowest density resorts in the world.
Each overwater villa has a 13m pool; most have a retractable roof in the master bedroom for a spot of stargazing from bed and there are several areas of glass floor to observe the ocean below. With one, two, three and four-bedroom options, all villas feature a top-deck dining area and open-air bathroom directly accessible from the lagoon via a staircase, as well as a walk-in minibar with coffee machine and private wine cellar.
The light and airy interiors designed by Soneva co-founder Eva Shivdasani feature weathered timber, natural linen, recycled glass and River Red Gum shingle roof tiles.
A snaking jetty connects the farthest-flung villas with the main resort buildings; guests are provided with bikes or can jump a shuttle boat.
A 40-minute seaplane flight from Male then a 60-minute speedboat ride from Soneva Fushi, the resort also features a water sports and dive centre, day spa and tennis court. DON’T MISS: A spot of star gazing, either from the top deck of the Scooba Do 2 with dinner or from the observatory with its high-powered telescope.
DINING IN AND OUT: Under British culinary director and Iron Chef Thailand winner Kevin Fawkes, the resort’s various dining outlets are supplied by organic produce grown on a large farm established on the island a decade ago.
Expect local seafood and varied menus from mezze, pizzas and wagyu to black truffle risotto using mushrooms grown on the farm.
The So Imaginative experimental kitchen provides rarefied tasting menus while alfresco dining options include a Castaway Picnic on a deserted island.
Still peckish? Drop by Soneva’s famous gratis cheese, chocolate and ice cream room.
ASK THE CONCIERGE: Book a sunset cruise complete with champagne and canapes; the water around the resort is a popular crossing point for pods of dolphins.
CHECKING IN: From $US1870 ($2500) a night; soneva.com. ALSO TRY: Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles; Amanyara, Turks and Caicos.