We interview Sonu Shivdasani, Founder of Soneva resorts, to discover the inspiration behind the resorts’ unique styles, ethos and experiences.
How would you describe the design and style of Soneva resorts?
Soneva distinguishes itself because we are about space, privacy and showing how sustainable materials can have a great aesthetic. For example, we avoid teak and favour bamboo and eucalyptus: both fast growing trees that we grow in plantations and that are just as beautiful as rarer materials. We believe in bringing out the beauty of nature and this sets us apart.
When guests arrive at one of our resorts, we take their shoes and put them in a bag. Having no shoes and no news is very healthy and grounding. It allows our guest to feel at home without the worries and obligations of their everyday lives. Open air cinemas, an observatory and outdoor showers are all things that urban dwellers, however wealthy they may be, are deprived of. Our bathrooms may not have marble or gold taps, but our guests can take a shower while gazing at a full moon.
Both Soneva Fushi and Kiri have some innovative dining options, what’s your favourite?
At the moment the team at Fresh in the Garden at Soneva Fushi are outstanding. The food is excellent. The star light and moon light tables are a favourite. They are large round tables up high without a roof. They are magical around full moon. The height affords a view across the island.
“The Laboratory” is a fun concept at Soneva Kiri. It takes place once or twice a week. There are 12 seats to dine around the circular table in Soneva Kiri’s Wine Cellar. (One has views of the sunset.) The evening consists of 6 dishes with 6 matching drinks. One has to guess what one is eating. For example, the Steak Tartare with a big egg yolk on top of it is not beef at all. It is actually a local watermelon with a mango coulis disguised to look as the egg yolk. The evening is full of surprises.
Soneva has a SLOW LIFE ethos, what does this mean?
Our mission is to uphold the principals of SLOW LIFE: Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness-Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences. Intelligent luxury is our guiding principal and we question and challenge what luxury is for the wealthy today. Our theory is that a new luxury is emerging based on what is now missing in everyday life: nature, sustainability and good health. This is why our resorts win so many awards and have been so successful.
How would you define luxury?
When 70% of the world’s population becomes urbanised, pollution, stress and box living will push people towards intelligent luxury because nature and new experiences will be what is rare. As people become more wise to these issues, thing will evolve. People will become more eco-sensitive and socially responsible as they realise the true impact of their resource-hungry lifestyles. They will come to crave the kind of luxury we offer. The future of luxury is about satisfying an increasingly sophisticated, and world-wise, wealthy client who is looking to express his individuality and will be looking for destinations with distinct personality and character.
Where is next on your travel bucket-list and why?
We are off to Siem Reap staying at the Anansara this weekend. We are looking forward to seeing the temples of Angkor. It is only 1 hour from Soneva Kiri with one of the Resorts’ two planes. We offer flights twice per week.
Discover more about Soneva Fushi and Soneva Kiri by calling one of our Consultants on 020 8682 5000 or visiting our website scottdunn.com