True to its philosophy of ‘no news, no shoes’, Soneva Fushi is a haven of barefoot luxury in the heart of the Indian Ocean. A hideaway where the whole family can kick off their flip flops, and enjoy the fantastic array of activities on offer for little ones, Mums, Dads and everyone in between. Chief Marketing Officer, Graham, discovers this family-friendly destination on an unforgettable vacation to the Maldives.
The one thing I regret about my honeymoon is not going to the Maldives. Not that our trip to South-East Asia was bad – on the contrary, it was amazing. Rather, my wife and I felt we’d missed our chance to be as romantic and indulgent as the Maldives deserve. We resolved, instead, to go for our 10th wedding anniversary. This was a fine idea except that, in the intervening 10 years, we had produced 3, travel-happy kids, now aged 9, 6 and 2. We toyed with asking Nanna and Grandpa to have them for a week so we could have the honeymoon-we-never-had, but that seemed a little cruel – the kids would never have forgiven us for leaving them behind. What’s more, as we were to discover, a resort as good – and as family-focussed – as Soneva Fushi really does need to be shared with your nearest and dearest. Here’s why:
Getting to Soneva Fushi requires taking a 30 minute seaplane from Male airport. For kids (and for first-timer Mums and Dads) this is an incredible experience; the thrill of the taking off and landing on water is a real adventure – and the views of the coral atolls below mesmerizing. That said, 30 minutes is enough and with Soneva Fushi, you are usually the first stop, avoiding multiple take-offs and landings and the inevitable cries of ‘are we nearly there yet?’
Your very own Friday
You are welcomed at Fushi by your very own ‘Friday’, your human Siri who answers any question you might have and looks after your every need, from unpacking to booking restaurants. Your kids will get to know your Friday well, to the point that they become a part of the extended family. Ours, Reiko, was a delight, always making time to chat and play with them. You’ll want to take yours home.
Fushi is a relatively big island so you need transport to get about, which comes in the form of push bikes. Each member of the family is assigned one (babies and toddlers go on the back) and one of your happiest memories, I assure you, will be whizzing round the paths on them. We particularly loved riding at night, feeling the warm air whoosh about us and losing our way in the atmospherically-lit jungle.
Technically, there’s one long continuous beach that rings the island but boy is a good one! All the accommodation is beach-front (we opted for a two bedroom family pool suite), so you hardly have to stray far to experience it either. There was untold joy in watching our kids run out of our villa to frolic in the sea – from the comfort of our plush loungers.
The Den is awesome. It’s basically everything kids would tell you they wanted if you asked them what they wanted in a play space. Swimming pool with waterslide. Check. Music room with drum kit. Check. Dressing up room. Check. Lego room. Check! Even so, it’s the staff that make the place and they really engaged with the kids, in Leo’s case sitting with him for hours building a Lego factory. As Rufus was under 4, we need to hire a babysitter to be with him – but it was well worth it judging from his happiness to go back each day.
The chocolate room
Need I say more, other than it’s complimentary and open-all-hours. Oh, and that actually, there’s an ice cream room next door?
One of the joys of a family trip to the Maldives is introducing your kids to snorkeling and Fushi is one of the best islands from which to do it. It is blessed with a fantastic house reef (not all Maldivian islands are as lucky), so there’s no need to get on a boat, you can simply take a dip off one of the jetties, or swim out from the beach. Our preferred spot was the sunset bar, where there are steps direct into the sea, allowing for safe and easy access. My daughter Genevieve was a bit nervous but just by standing here and putting her face in the water, she saw an incredible diversity of sea creatures, including parrotfish, angel fish and a Titan Triggerfish!
The night sky on Fushi is awesome – unlike anything you’ll see back at home. Best of all, there’s an observatory to view it from. The perfect after-dinner outing to spot Jupiter and the Great Bear with the resident astronomer makes for an evening to remember.
Taking to the water
Non-motorized water sports are free, and you are surrounded by some of the most enticing waters in the world, so Fushi is definitely the place to introduce the kids to kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. The lagoon is ideal for learning – calm and safe; and best of all, falling in is a pleasure!
Sunset drinks on the sandbar
This is one of the loveliest traditions at Soneva Fushi – and, for us, was timed perfectly on our last night. Drinks and canapés are set up on a beautiful sandbar that’s a few minutes boat ride from the island. Guests are invited to join the Manager and his team to enjoy a beautiful sunset in this unique location – you really do have to pinch yourself. Best of all, the staff from the Den are there to keep your kids busy building sandcastles whilst you take in that view with a glass of bubbles in your hand, toasting your very good decision to bring the whole family to Soneva Fushi.