© Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines
(Arkivmaterial - Del av reportage publicerat i magasinet Amazing Editions)
If you wish to chill out in a five star environment and holiday in "Bare-Foot Luxury", then we can warmly recommend a visit here to the beautiful nature of the Maldives. You can spoil yourself under a clear blue sky and let the speciallytrained spa staff complete the experience.
There was never any doubt that the Maldives had its own special charm, and I had certainly imagined something out of the ordinary, but never a sight as spectacular as this as we flew towards the airport. Below us, the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean bathed in glorious sun. From up here we can clearly distinguish the depth of the coral reefs around the hundreds of oval lagoons. Most of them are so small that there are only perhaps ten square metres where they break through the surface, the rest being covered by the sparkling turquoise blue waters. Others are much bigger, and looking between the tight vegetation it is possible to catch a glimpse of the silhouettes of both the spectacular hotels and houses. But, as I sit here in sight of the gates to paradise, I am somewhat daunted by the task ahead. What shall I do to describe these fantastic moments? Which words shall I use to give the reader a fair and proper picture? I turn somewhat anxiously towards my camera equipment and really hope that the photographic material will be good enough to truly reflect this Garden of Eden.
Having passed customs and passport control, we have to find our way. Several representatives of the more well-known resorts wait here in the cool of the arrivals hall. No time is wasted and all newly-arrived guests are warmly greeted with a broad smile and good humour. Right here, upon arrival, Malé offers travellers the best possible service imaginable and everything is done to help and get the holiday off to a fine start. No sooner do we find and introduce ourselves to our friends from Soneva Fushi than the polite staff take care of our luggage and escort us further to a jetty outside the airport. We feel as if we are on our way, that we are leaving behind us the mentality of the city and everyday life, especially when the waiting ‘taxi’ is equipped with wings and pontoons. Unlike our more traditional hotel visits, where the taxi pulls up outside the lobby, today we will make our entrance via a fantastic blue lagoon.
During our 30-minutes in the air, on route to Kunfunadhoo Island, reality gradually fades away and I become more and more convinced that we are in the middle of a fairytale world. A world consisting of pastel colours and sparkling sunshine which offers stunning views and wonderful pictures, the like of which I have never experienced before. Back down again, with water under the pontoons, we see all the colours of a rainbow. I sit back in my seat, breathe a sigh of relief and turn to Iluta. “What a fantastic flight!” She nods in agreement. I can see from her admiring looks that we are both equally taken by the spectacular surroundings. “I will never forget this trip,” she says as she unfastens her seat belt.
Beside the small jetty, a boat waits to take us ashore. Mrs Rochelle Kilgariff, the general manager for Soneva Fushi gives us a wave as she stands waiting for us. Once on dry land, we are welcomed by the staff and offered refreshing drinks in the hot summer sun of the tropical monsoon climate.
The whole atmosphere surrounding this relaxed arrival feels more like a visit to an old friend than a stay in formal hotel surroundings. The phrase ‘barefoot luxury’ lies close at hand. The more I study the surroundings and the causal clothing worn by the staff, the more I understand how the term has developed and the ideas which actually lie behind the Six Senses’ red thread.
As we check in, we are issued with a bicycle each to use here on the island between the villas and the activities. Also, I am given a map which will help us find our way to our temporary accommodation here on Kunfunadhoo Island. The sand on the side road leading to our Crusoe Villa is newly-raked and untouched. Only the lonely silence makes me feel a little unsure. At the moment, it feels as if we are the only visitors on the entire island. I check the map a last time whilst parking our bikes against the house wall. A large clay pot filled with water has been placed neatly next to the wall by the entrance. We look at each other with puzzled expressions until we realize that this is ‘barefoot luxury’ playing tricks with us. A small set of furniture, made of sticks and twigs provided by Mother Nature, stand on the open space in front of the house. Two wooden sun beds have been placed a little further away towards the water under the tropical sunshine.
Before entering our villa, I meet an environment inspired by nature in combination with pastel-coloured textiles. To the left, towards the road, steps made of split logs lead up to the bedroom where a large double bed awaits, beautifully decorated with scented rose petals. To the right of me, on the writing desk, stands a bottle of champagne ingeniously served, together with a personal letter from Rochelle, where she once more warmly welcomes us to the Maldives and Soneva Fushi. The most fascinating design is to be found in the bathroom where half of the room’s walls are missing, giving a fantastic feeling of freedom hard to match.
After acquainting ourselves with the villa and the luggage has been delivered, we take a well-deserved pause in the evening sun down on our private beach. With a glass of champagne in my hand, I settle down and read the information about the Maldives and the many facilities offered by Soneva Fushi.
As I said at the beginning, I shall try to paint as correct picture as possible of the way of life here and give extensive information about Soneva Fushi. To begin with, this well-preserved paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean stretches like a string of pearls straight out from the south-west coast of India. The Maldives, an independent republic since 1965, consists of about 1,200 islands, which together cover an area of some 298 square kilometers. There are some 250,000 inhabitants of whom 50,000 live in the capital , Malé. The native language is Maldivian and the main religion is Islam. The island on which we are staying right now, Kunfunadhoo Island, is one of the bigger islands, and is about 1,400 metres long and about 400 metres wide. In addition to being our home for the time being, Kunfunadhoo Island is also the home of the resorts owners, Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Sonu started his career in the family business after extensive studies at Eton College and Oxford University. Earlier, he worked together with his brother until deciding in 1991 to wind down, and invest in Pavilion Resorts. Today he owns 100% of the business and runs the Six Senses chain which works only with four and five star hotels around the world. Eva has a Swedish background, and you probably remember her from the world of fashion where, as a top model in the 70s, she adorned the front covers of many of the fashion magazines the world over. She started her own brand of clothes in the 70s in Paris called LEVA. Today, she works with Sonu and develops the Six Senses concept. Among other things, Eva was responsible for the décor and design of Soneva Fushi during phase one and two of its construction.
Soneva Fushi, which for some time now has been Six Senses’ pride and joy, opened its doors to the public in October 1995. In April 1997, it was decided to further develop the complex with 20 more villas, a full-scale spa, and a bigger bar and restaurant. Today there are 62 luxurious accommodations in a number of different categories.
Suddenly I wake up as Iluta pulls my arm. “Wake up, we’re late!” she says and steps quickly on. Newly awakened and still groggy from my deep sleep, I stretch my arms in the air and look over at the turquoise blue water. “Come on”, she shouts, “We‘re having dinner with the others over at the Main Restaurant”. Somewhat reluctantly, I get up and return to the villa. I realize how fantastically lucky we are to have this opportunity to see and experience this very special place on earth. The Maldives are truly a well-preserved paradise. “Do you know what I’m looking forward too?” I call out while I rinse my feet on the veranda. “A trip to a desert island where we can picnic and dive on a coral reef.”
Coming back from the restaurant we walk hand in hand under a star-adorned night sky. All that can be heard is the palm trees whispering in the breeze and the water lapping against the beach. “This is real quality of life”, says Iluta and squeezes my hand hard. “Promise me that we will return here one day”.
Inspiring.se - © Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines